At twelve years old, Cathy decided that, when it came right down to it, she’d rather be too hot than too cold. It was a life choice, and she stuck by it right through that summer’s will wilting three week heat wave. Even passing out from heat stroke in grade 10 didn’t change her mind. She’d made a commitment, and she wasn’t going to be like everyone else and throw it away. When she was 15, she made three more major life decisions; she was going to get married on a boat, she would never like olives, and she was going to be an accountant. She committed to believing in God at 17. And at 18, she found the man she wanted on that boat deck beside her.
Then, at 22 years old, Cathy failed her CA exam for the third time. Two weeks later she found out her fiancé was cheating on her. Nightmares started waking her up every morning. Not the being-chased-by-a-giant-iguana or the naked-on-the-jumbotron kind, but real end-of-the-world-fiery-death nightmares. Her doctor told her it was stress. Her therapist told her it was unresolved divorced parents issues, but she knew it couldn’t be that simple.
She went to her pastor one night after gospel.
“End of the world, eh?” he said, bringing his face uncomfortably close to Cathy’s. “Have you heard of global warming? People are just catching on, but what they don’t know is there’s nothing they can do about it.”
“Sure there is.” Cathy pulled her head back a few inches. “Haven’t you heard David Suzuki?”
Her pastor sighed, and looked to the heavens for inspiration on how to put the truth as gently as possible.
“Catherine, just be thankful you’re saved, global warming is the first stage of Armageddon. Not even praying can stop it.” He put his hand on her arm and squeezed maybe a second longer than he should have. “Now, let me give you a ride home. We can talk about it more in the car.”
When she climbed out of his SUV in front of her apartment building, she knew she never wanted to ride anywhere with the man again, even if it was shotgun at the rapture. She locked her door behind her and went straight to the fridge. Her roommate always kept a jar of olives beside the shared mustard. Cathy unscrewed the lid and reached in with her fingers. This was the final test. She met the fat green olive’s pimento eye without flinching. Brined dribbled over her hand and down her wrist. She hesitated, but only for a second, before popping it whole into her mouth. She closed her eyes and bit down. Salty, juicy – Cathy got the most horrible shock – it was delicious!
The olive jar dropped and shattered on the tile floor. Even her palate had betrayed her. Cathy staggered back and collapsed into a kitchen chair. It was the end of the world…