In the pre-apocalypse, my sister finds herself driving her car across the country alone with the tornadoes and I can hear the wind from here. She is fine, but I am—helpless—adding roads to her map and water-bodies, sometimes towers which hide wizards, and portals in which we all come undone, those are for later, mostly, after the world ends. You are not helping she says. Your roads are lined with brambles and monsters are crawling from the lakes. Can you do anything that is not a fairy tale? I only meant to help and she says, she knows, but we both know that I’m not the girl who expects the easy happy ending. The skies are getting darker, I say, and we both know what will happen if you aren’t here by nightfall. I hear her car hit a rainstorm with the slow-climbing melody of drops crashing and the wash of wheels on a wet road. Don’t tell me that you’ve set loose the vampires. I haven’t, I confess, but I’ve reached the edge of the map. I don’t tell her that I’ve left a portal there, just in case she needs it. It is quiet as her car moves from Indiana into nothing, then she says, It’s green here; I’m still ten hours from home.
(Editors’ Note: “Map-Making” is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, 42B.)
© 2021 Kristian Macaron