From Issue 15: Uncertainties

Carla McGill

I know that there is a hundred percent certainty that it will happen. Death. With new advances in science, is there the slightest chance? No. It’s nice to know that there is reliability in the universe—that something is one hundred percent. Other things are more uncertain. Marriage, for instance. In America, there is a forty-six percent chance that a first marriage will end in divorce, and that changes all the time. The percent rate goes up for second marriages, making it more advantageous to stay in the first marriage. In Orange County, California, thirty-three people each day apply for a divorce. Newport Beach, just down the road, has the highest divorce rate in Orange County. I have heard that divorced people are more prone to getting terminal diseases, but I have not confirmed it.

The outlook for getting cancer isn’t certain. Though for a woman, death from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer can be lowered by thirty percent if she follows nutritional guidelines (fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats). Combine that with the fact that a female over the age of twelve has a two percent chance of being murdered, and you realize you can’t go by nutrition alone. It depends on where you live.

I happen to live in Santa Monica, which means that I am one of the nineteen percent here on Social Security. About twenty percent of us have heart attacks and about fourteen percent are divorced. We have a seven percent chance of being robbed, which I was, and I rent an apartment in the section of the city that has the highest number of robberies—close to twenty-two percent. As for car thefts, the highest percentage is over on the other side of town, where more than one-third of cars are stolen each year.

As far as losing children, I know that among parents who lose a child the divorce rate can be as high as eighty percent. I checked on the Internet, and more than 52,000 children die each year in the United States. If each one has both parents that makes more than 100,000. Children who die in car accidents—close to sixty percent. Children who died in car accidents back in 1980, not as many, about forty percent.

Many uncertainties remain. For example, how many of them had had a peanut butter and honey sandwich that morning? How many were wearing a green and orange striped pullover? How many just turned four years old? How many were named Corey or had Star Wars wallpaper or curly, caramel-colored hair? And how many of their mothers are now standing on their small balcony in a semi-decent neighborhood in Santa Monica, California, having their morning coffee; and, of those mothers, how many drink black coffee and how many remember what the weather was that day in 1980, when they decided to take a drive, just to get out and do something, just to go see the beach, perhaps make a sandcastle?

 

Carla McGill earned her doctorate in English from the University of California, Riverside. Her work has been published in The Atlanta Review, Shark Reef, Common Ground Review, Vending Machine Press, The Penmen Review, Cloudbank, The Alembic, Burningword, Broad River Review, and StreetLight. She lives in Southern California with her husband.