It’s IndieInk Writing Challenge time again. This one comes from Zoey Jane, who issued a doozy of a prompt, which was:
You know that an asteroid – The asteroid – is coming for Earth. It’s been verified by all of the scientists and reported, first on Twitter, and then on reputable news networks (none of them Fox or CNN News, don’t worry). Unfortunately, Bruce Willis is absorbed in jazz and Ben Affleck is (not surprisingly) crying like a little girl while Jennifer Garner pointlessly packs the family up for a trip to the park. She’s a hands-on mom, you see. So Earth is screwed.
“You’ve got more than 12, but less than 24 hours until it wipes out everything. What happens in them?
I don’t remember the day everyone left. Someone tapped my knee, took my hand and patted it over a bag of bread, some apples, and a few bars I assume were granola. After that, vacuum emptiness, different and the same as what filled me every moment of every day. And although I was decidedly, nakedly alone — and preferred it that way, I noted the absence of touch, of taste, of reverberation thrumming in my chest, giving me indication that someone somewhere was walking by or talking or living. So I continued to sit, thinking dully that soon I’d have the freezing tray put in my lap, or the tiny pills tucked into my mouth, or the careless hands rubbing sponges over my numb face, my arms, whatever was left of my body.
I still sit here.
I’m thinking this, only thinking it. I no longer hear or see or care. “Can I see some ID please?” I clearly remember saying it. Last words I ever spoke. Then: nothing. And here I was. Still nothing.
I had two little girls once. After I lost the ability to be a person, they left me, along with their father. Behind my eyes, I still see the downy fluff of their hair, the tootsie roll toes, the needing look that said I mattered.
I had two little girls once.
And a husband.
And a life.
“Can I see some ID please?”
I was a doctor. It was my job to heal and soothe and resuscitate. A kitten. Just a kitten limping in from the road. A broken leg, maybe? A burred paw? I don’t know. I’ll never know. The owner followed behind. “Can I see some ID please?” There was a blast, wasn’t there? Some kind of explosion.
I wonder about the kitten.
I beckon to silly, easier memories. The way cream softened my coffee, the first summer jump in a blue pool, pounding rain on asphalt. Chasing after ice cream trucks, double piercing my ears with a needle sanitized by fire, a once-attended frat party. I turn away more consequential images. My children, my children…
It’s no use, it’s no use.
We lay in a covers-tossed bed, the four of us. Entangled in each other. I burrow my nose in my girls’ hair, lock feet with my husband. There is nothing better than this. Nothing better. There is nothing.
I hadn’t eaten for awhile. Days? Maybe hours. I imagine the wrapper from the granola bar crinkling, making that plastic cellophane sound. I open it best I can. I throw it down.
There is no water.
I don’t think I sleep. Every second feels like sleep, but not in the best sense of the word. I sit here. Just sit here.
I don’t suppose I miss anyone.
I see the kitten. The children. The feet. The red space behind my eyes. The explosion.
And that’s how it makes its presence known. A memory of fire. Of knowing it was coming before it did. The sense that I’m not alone. The reverberation remember? But it’s not a person walking down the hall, or music, or words spoken. It’s deep, thick, bass, pounding. Like a train rolling down railroad ties, a concert gathering steam as notes swell from speakers deliciously assaulting your heart, a plane far off in the distance but flying fast. Something’s coming, something’s coming.
There is nothing.