Together at the End of the World

Tuesday, May 1st 12 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

The weight of his hand at the small of her back is warm and comforting to him.

The curve of her spine and the fabric of her shirt against his palm is tying him to the earth. In some way, everything feels more acute and clearer today; the borders and lines of his surroundings are much more crisp. When her body pulls away from his hand as she goes to sit into the backseat of the vehicle, he dips it into his coat pocket and slides his sunglasses into place over his eyes. Everything is so bright today.

She is sitting as far to the left of the backseat as she can, with her right knee crossed over left, looking out the window. She is – in an aimless sort of way – entirely unaware of the way she holds him to the planet; the way that she is his gravity center and he orbits around her. Sitting so much farther from her than he would hope to be, he allows himself to fill as much of the space between their bodies. His knees wide and his hand rests awkwardly against the hot, black leather of the seat. It reminds him of being sixteen and on his first date with a girl who’s name he barely remembers now; his hand palm up and open on the arm rest between them, an invitation to her to take it if she so desired. That girl then didn’t and he knows that this girl now won’t either.

The vibrations of the wheels on the hot asphalt are loud inside the cabin of the car and his head is hurting him. Using his right thumb and forefinger, he pushes beneath the nose of his sunglasses and pinches hard at the bridge where they sit and sighs hard.

“What’s wrong?” Her voice cuts through the silence between them in a way that grips at his chest.

He can only shake his head in the negative. “Nothing. Nothing, just a headache.” Everything is so bright today. And you. You make my brain vibrate.

That is enough for her and she turns back to the window so he turns to his. Resting his forehead against the sun-warmed glass he looks up into the clear, bright, easy blue of the summer sky – looking for the hazy orb of the moon sometimes present in the middle of the day. He finds it there, only not like an apparition or something viewed through a veil. What he sees is a ball of flame. It looks more like the sun than it does the moon. A red explosion appeared to be issuing from the upper left of the sphere. He would call it a solar flare if he didn’t know any better.

He stared with speechless awe for a moment – watching the moon flare like the great star – before turning to her. “Anne, do you see the moon right now?”

She moved next to him – her knee pressing against his – and leaned over his body, bracing herself by placing an open hand against the top of his leg. His senses drowned one another out, each one louder than the last, at the closeness of her to him. He leaned a fraction of a motion closer to her and inhaled quietly the smell of her hair.

“What about it?”

He had forgotten entirely for a beat why she was in his space and what had so startled him as to be able to use her name, let alone speak to her. After all this time they’ve known each other, he can’t imagine how she still manages to make him nervous just by being beside him. Returning his attention to the skies, he finds the moon in its normal mid-day state. Full and ghostly white; an entirely unassuming satellite, hanging as it would on any other day. She was still close against him as he shrugged.

“I don’t know. Weird. I could’ve sworn that it–”

As he went to finish his sentence and describe to her what he thought he’d seen, the mass began to crumble. At the lower right – in a diagonal line from where he’d seen the flare – it appeared to be imploding, sucking in on itself completely. As they watched out the window the moon began to break apart, massive chunks breaking away before being pulled back through a vacuum. The entire orb exploded into flame.

He heard her breathe, “This is it, isn’t it?”

He didn’t respond, only leaned his head back against the seat and continued to watch the fire in the sky. He knew all of the things people believed would happen if the moon was suddenly lost. The earth would fall off its axis, the crust would begin shifting and not stop, seasons would cease and the tides would fall. Despite his scientific mind knowing that this was all incredibly unlikely, he found that it was difficult to think rationally as he stared at the sky exploding. She had moved back to her place, however not as far away this time, and he reached for her hand. She took it, slipping her fingers effortlessly between his; her knuckles against his knuckles, her fingertips resting against the top of his hand. Squeezing, she held on so tightly.

Closing his eyes, he tried hard to focus on her finger bones squeezing against the bones of his. He tried not to focus on or realise the sucking feeling that was beginning to take over the car, the world, his body. It felt to him the sensation of falling in a dream; that suck at the back of his stomach. It was losing gravity and beginning to float and exist everywhere and nowhere all at once. And somehow, with all the lightness, it was pressure. It was pressure pushing hard against his head and chest, his lungs and eyes and his brain. Just pressure.

Her finger bones against his finger bones, he held tighter onto her hand and using the last breath in his lungs before it was forced away and his body exploded, he spoke. “I love you.” He hoped that she knew the width and depth of it. Using his last breath to tell her, instead of holding onto it as long as he was able, seemed an important thing. Her fingers squeezed tighter onto his for an instant and then everything blinked out. Was gone. It was like a breath, a sharp gasp. That was how the world ended for she and him, in fire and a gasp. Life and love and heartache, hurt and smiles and sex and tears and finger bones against finger bones vanished.

Everything was just so bright that day and she made his brain vibrate so.

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