Posted on: August 19, 2014
My pulse quickens. I want to shake her, rouse her from her peaceful slumber and find out for sure that her sleepy declaration wasn’t just some sort of auditory illusion or a figment of my overeager imagination. I want to wake her and find out that for once, maybe, just maybe, my love is not unrequited, that she didn’t turn to me out of loneliness, or even worse, out of desperation.
I long for her to open her eyes, those sparkling sapphires that bewitched me and reeled me in from across the crowded room. I want to hear her laugh, a sound so honest, so pure, that it renders me powerless, and to hear the melodic singsong of her voice. And more than anything I desperately yearn to hear the other sounds, the low guttural moans she made as I traced the contours of her body with my tongue, or the hushed whispers she used when she begged, “Fuck me. Fuck me like there’s no tomorrow.”
And I want her to wake because we had a vow, a promise to not waste the precious few hours we have together with something as humdrum as sleep.
But I can’t do it. I can’t bring myself to shatter her tranquility. Instead I slip my arm out from under her and slide in a pillow as a surrogate for her to nuzzle against.
I turn on the TV and scan the channels, but nothing is on, and I don’t mean in a how-can-you-watch-this-shit reality TV kind of way. Nothing but test patterns and white snow flash upon the screen. Where the hell are Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw when you need them? They would have kept it going. These new journalists don’t have any heart. Sure, they’ll put their posterior on the line for posterity’s sake, but when the end is nigh and there is no hope for fame or fortune, they cut and run like everybody else.
At least the power is still on. Somewhere out there, someone still has a little pride left and isn’t shirking away from their duty. Or maybe not—who knows, in this digital age it’s probably just some computer running it all, a computer that can’t comprehend the utter destruction that an asteroid with the innocuous name of XC17LR3 (or “Jesus” as my born-again uncle calls it) is going to unleash on good old planet Earth in T minus two hours; give or take fifteen minutes.
I pull on some shorts, slide open the glass door and step out onto the balcony to get a breath of fresh air. I scan the heavens for any sign of the approaching asteroid, but see nothing but clear, blue sky.
I didn’t believe it at first. Nobody did. The first reports came across as crazy conspiracy theories. In this day and age, internet rumors of a doomsday asteroid don’t make many folks bat so much as an eye. It wasn’t until the European Space Agency made an official announcement that people started paying attention. Even then, some scoffed at the notion. I guess it takes a little while to wrap your head around the fact that everything, from Nebuchadnezzar to Nirvana, Shakespeare to the Shawshank Redemption, all of it, the entirety of human existence, will be gone in a mere three days.
The first day was pure unadulterated chaos. Half of the population of the Earth didn’t have to wait for the asteroid. A few countries, sworn enemies from time immemorial, decided that the impending apocalypse was a good enough reason to go ahead and do a little smiting of their foes. And the suicides—apparently a lot of people decided they would rather go out on their own terms. Those that survived the first twenty four hours divided into three camps; those that huddled with their families, those that flocked to a church, and those that went full tilt boogie, running amok and raging all night at the end-of-the-world parties that were springing up everywhere.
I met her at the Church of the Resurrection. I had wandered in, not out of any sense of belief, but because it turns out I wasn’t cut out for unabashed hedonism, and I needed a respite from the chaos. The building was packed with parishioners, arms linked together, swaying back and forth and singing hymns. Off to the side was a group of people milling around a table full of food. I spotted my uncle snacking on a sandwich and started toward him, until she caught my eye.
She was manning the punch bowl, looking uncomfortable and out of place. She looked in my direction. Those eyes, my god, those eyes were incredible. She flashed a demure smile and quickly looked away. The nausea that had been churning my gut since I accepted the reality of my imminent death gave way to a new queasiness; a fluttering that I hadn’t experienced since I was thirteen. I knew that it was now or never. Literally.
Her arms snake around my waist and I let out a shout in surprise. She draws me in close, kissing my neck and nibbling on my earlobe.
“I’m so sorry I fell asleep,” she says in that low, seductive whisper. “I won’t let it happen again.”
I turn around to face her. I try to smile but my mouth won’t let me.
“How long was I asleep?” she asks, the playfulness gone from her voice.
“About two hours.”
She buries her face into my chest.
“I love you,” she says, and I know she means it.
“I love you too.”
We turn and look at the sky, still calm and perfectly blue, together.
Written by: Ben Cook
Photograph by: Hannah Chertock
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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