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Response to prompt "survival guide" by Olivia Shuman

For any historians trying to figure this out:


We talked in English class sometimes about a pressure cooker society—where the bounds of society are so strict that people turn to crime, to sex, to drugs. Anything forbidden is the most wanted. It seems we can never quite make the connection, though. No one will say it. It is as though a pressure cooker society is some foreign thing.


Nothing new happened. Nothing went wrong, per se. I guess sometimes time just runs out. We just didn’t have any more sand in the hourglass.

We want there to be an answer sometimes. We want to know the weather on the day Mount Vesuvius erupted.

But sometimes ash coats a city, coats a person and their eyes, and that’s all that can be said.

Cinders still encrust my eyelashes.





Survival guide:

  1. Don’t bother.

  2. I hate to be like that, but there’s a certain cynicism people have about this whole thing, and I can’t say I mind it.

  3. Agree that it could be worse.

  4. It could get worse later. We don’t seem to mind, mostly.

  5. Adopt neutrality.

  6. It’s easier.

  7. Give up your religion. It will be difficult. It was difficult. But god would have saved us by now.

  8. Stop capitalizing “god”.

  9. This would have bothered my grandfather, but he is long gone.

  10. Thank god. (And old age.)

  11. Take on an air of confidence so people assume you know what you’re talking about. The confidence could be real, if you want. It doesn’t really matter for our purposes.

  12. Sometimes “apocalypse” doesn’t look like a sci-fi book. Sometimes it looks kind of the same your whole life until it doesn’t.

  13. Then it doesn’t.

  14. Keep the list short.

  15. You want people to read it.

  16. Right?

  17. God, maybe edit this part out later.

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