This is How The World Ends

The Unlikeables
11 min readDec 2, 2020

Realizing I needed glasses was just the beginning…

Photo of Stanley, Idaho by Carly Kimmel, 2020.

First my eyes start to go. It takes a while for me to notice. But once I do, I accept this fact with the good natured cynicism that I have used to usher in other signs of my impending mortality; the gray hairs and drooping eyelids, the way my body aches for the first third of every day. I purchase glasses, not the fancy kind but a cheap pair of magnifiers from a rotating stand at the end of the cracker aisle in my local grocery. Voila! Problem solved. I only need the glasses for reading. It is inconvenient but manageable. There is a part of me that relishes them, perceives the same hint of excitement that I had as a teenager getting braces; the sense that I have arrived at an important stage of my own evolution. Wearing glasses makes me feel as if I know something, as if my eyes have read enough to warrant being tired. Despite the fact that the glasses are a physical manifestation of my weakness, I feel smarter because of them.

There are rumors of a virus making its way through Asia. Every morning I wake and reach for the glasses so that I can read the news. There are no known cases in the US but still, I carry Lysol wipes with me. Everyone I know reacts to my fear in the same way: they think I am crazy. They scoff and laugh and some act worried about my mental acuity as they watch me wipe down tables before sitting in public places. I wake at night with my heart racing. My in-laws are planning a cruise in March. I beg them to cancel and they smirk and wave their hands dismissively. Online, I see pictures of overflow hospitals being erected in China — the walls made of plastic sheeting, the doctors coming and going in hazmat suits. The images are pixelated; dead bodies piling up in dirt pits that are visible by satellite. “It will never happen like that here,” a girlfriend tells me during lunch one day. I keep carrying Lysol. Just in case.

Soon, my fears are realized. The virus spreads. The schools shut down and our children are sent home with garbage bags full of texts and workbooks. I have already stocked my pantry with canned foods and toilet paper. My husband gets word that his job has been suspended. Late at night we go over our finances and determine we have savings enough to comfortably see us through a few months. We tell ourselves that we will be fine. There is no way…

The Unlikeables

Carly Kimmel is a writer, director, and producer living in Los Angeles with her husband, Jonathan, and their two kids.