The end of the world–or at least the parts of it she recognized–had come in the middle of the week. Which explained why she had spent the end of days in the gingham dress and white apron that came with her work uniform. Her knees were a skinned mess of still healing flesh, the dead skin along the edges of the wounds gray and pebbled together in parts. She’d been terrified of getting an infection, since she doubted there were any hospitals left intact and un-looted.
Now, while she wasn’t exactly thriving, she at least had a pair of pants that fit and her dress had been torn for rags. She’d been glad to see it gone. Even before the end of the world she’d thought it was hideous. But her boss had been going for a theme, and it wasn’t her fault he had no sense of taste; she’d simply worn the dress and tried to save enough tips to move on to another job.
That’s all she’d ever had: jobs. She’d never found the career that ignited her passions or the person that warmed her heart. She’d always been striving and straining, with success as some far-distant goal. It should have hurt more to have everything torn away, but instead it seemed almost expected. The end had happened, and she hadn’t even missed a beat in the endless shuffle-dance she used to pass through life’s disasters.
Homeless? She’d find a place. It wasn’t like everything was completely destroyed. There were hidey holes and hidden caches of supplies that their previous owners hadn’t even known they’d left behind. She’d spent the first days curled up in a cement pipe, burying her face in her arms as fire fell from the heavens and thunderous destruction had been the only sound. Housing didn’t seem such a problem after that.
Hungry? She’d endure until she found food. Then she’d save every extra bite she got, fighting off starvation as she’d always done. She knew how much she needed to eat to keep her body working and stave off the black eye spots and trembling fat-feeling hands. And for everything else, she crunched down children’s chewable vitamins every day and hoped she didn’t get scurvy. It seemed like a bad way to die.
And loneliness? She’d survive it. She knew better than to seek out strangers during a disaster situation. Some people had a hard time recognizing priorities, and she really didn’t want to end up stabbed or raped by someone she wouldn’t have given a second look in her old life. It didn’t seem worth the risk, not when she knew she could make it on her own.
There’d never been a time when she hadn’t had confidence in herself. It seemed as natural as a blue sky. Out of all the people she’d ever met, she was the person she depended on the most. How could she turn to others with trust when all she’d ever known was betrayal?
She’d slog her way through the end of the world. Striving, straining, and surviving the way she’d always done.
And wasn’t that a kick in the head: the realization that life before and after the apocalypse weren’t that different. Not for her. And probably not for a lot of poor people.
Sure, the destruction and subsequent mayhem had been eye-opening, but at the end of the day things were still somewhat the same. She still needed to eat, sleep, shit, and avoid all the assholes that would stop her from doing any of those things.
So life was pretty much the way it had always been. Just with a lot less people around.