The world is going to end today. It’s all over the news. At 10am today a rogue asteroid, employed by an interstellar taskforce devoted to wiping out useless civilizations is on its way to us. What ever does not get wiped out by the initial impact will die anyway, either wiped out by the zombifying virus living on the surface of the asteroid or destroyed when the earth is knocked out of orbit and eventually spirals into the sun. I don’t really mind though. The florist is offering a discount on roses.
I guess it doesn’t really matter if I feed the parking meter or not, but I’m scared I won’t die after all and getting my car towed would be a bitch. I walk around the dints and scratches and feel slightly ashamed that the history books are not going to remember me. Then I remember all the history books will be wiped out as well, which makes me smile a little.
I stand at your door, the sexual organs of dying plants in one hand, trying to think of just the right words to say. I begin to knock and although I still don’t know what strange linguistic symbols are going to best express the pain I’m feeling, I know you are a heavy sleeper so I have more time.
A minute later the wooden barrier between me and your world swings open and there you are, towel wrapped around you, medusa hair raised in defense against the new day, recently cracked open crust of tears and makeup around the eyes, in a haze of stale booze and cigarettes. You couldn’t look more beautiful to me.
You smile and I understand. Who couldn’t resisted such a charming opener delivered with impeccable timing. You motion to the flowers. “What did you do wrong this time?”
“I’m not sure to be honest, but when I woke up this morning my jaw was aching, and this imprint right here looks like the ring I gave you last holidays” I lift my chin for you to examine the indentation underneath. The smile grows in recognition of good work as you step back and let me through the door. I drop the flowers in a bin just inside the entryway, which smells of natural potpourri giving away the time that we have been together. I follow you into the kitchen, forgetting to duck at the low entryway for the fifteenth time this month, distracted as always by the hypnotic movement of your body.
“You know that stuff will kill you right?” Witticism at eight in the morning. A specialty of mine.
“True, who knows when or where we really are going to die though right?”
I feel like I need to correct you, but if you don’t know, all the better. If we are together at the end of existence, it will not be out of fear of the unknown or pity on my lonely soul, but because I have earned the right to be made happy by your presence. Instead I simply watch your morning routine, a ballet I have come to love for its simplicity and its ability to intensely provoke all of ones senses.
The kettle boils as hot toast melts real butter; freshly squeezed orange juice is poured into a large glass of ice as you hum some unknown tune that makes me think of women washing clothes in a stream long before the existence of Westinghouse. You glide out of the room, dropping your towel along the way. I bravely ignore my erection as I walk over and pour two coffees into large mugs, cream in each and two sugars in mine. I silently show appreciation to the greater life forms for taking away my fear of diabetes.
I turn back to the doorway, elixir of life in hand, as you walk back in, pulling down over your lithe body a floral dress that contains too many yellows and oranges to be considered fashionable into the grey society of the day.
“So what are our plans for the day?” Even the most boring of statements of questions flow from your lips like musical epiphanies to my ears.
“I thought we might head across to the coast, have a picnic while the world ends. I kind of like the idea of just once sitting in the sun without smelling of sunscreen.” My voice sounds more like a thirteen year old boy in front of a fashion model, but my charming humor lets me get away with it. I lean against the bench because I know you will like the idea. You smile and my legs go weak. The bench is not enough and as I knock my head again the handle of the cupboard on my quick visit to the floor I find myself happy that I’m not making a fool of myself for the last day of earth. My world goes black.
“Sounds perfect” I hear your voice a thousand miles away, “Let me get my bag and I’ll meet you at the car” Light seeps in from the cracks as time passes. I open my eyes and my first thought is “I’m going to need to repaint her ceiling”. My second is, “Wait, I don’t have to. I thought the Apocalypse was supposed to be a bad thing?” I get up slowly and note that on my fall I was able to not only put my coffee down gently on the bench, but that I even managed to use a coaster. I take a mouthful of sweet energy and pour the rest down the drain. After two attempts I manage to walk through the kitchen door and to the front of the house. You are there in the car, having put its top down, waiting with the patience of a saint. Saint Abigail, the patron saint of fashionable handbags and unearthly optimism. I turn to lock the front door and it occurs to me that we shall never be back here. After years of being programmed by Hollywood that looters would be everywhere I become determined to leave the door unlocked, to save damage to its fine wood carvings. It would be a shame for the small pieces of beauty in this world to be destroyed before the rest of us are wiped out.
We drive through modern suburbia and the streets are quieter than usual. All the children have been locked away in shelters with their parents, who in the spirit of false hope have ensured that their children’s last experiences will be arguing over who is cheating who in Monopoly. My fingers flick over the dials of the radio, looking for anything but news, and find one DJ who still has retained his sense of humor has put REM on. Followed by The Beatles. I get the feeling I will be looking forward to The Doors next.
“You missed the turn” You put your hand on my thigh and I hope you remove it again so I can regain my regular heartbeat.
“I just needed to see something” The quickest way to the coast was to avoid the city, but we still had time.
Dark rainless clouds are forming overhead as we enter the city and the surreality of it hits me harder than if you clocked me over the head with a dali statue of an elephant with really long legs. There were the “usual” hippies proclaiming their happiness at the greater beings decision, perhaps a few more preachers on corners, but generally people seemed to be going about their business as if nothing was to happen. Denial, I thought to myself, not just a river in Egypt. It occurred to me that sharing this brilliant piece of humor with the angel beside me would be a good idea, until I turn to you and realize that you are handling it the same way as them.
Perhaps I was the one in the wrong. Why should we make such a big deal about it? If a lonely middle aged man dies in a car crash, the universe survives. If tens of thousands of natives are wiped from a country in a bloody rebellion, the stars still appear that night. The millions who are born and die each year do not affect the movement of the galaxies, so perhaps I am putting too much importance on the end of this little planet.
Then again, I’m on this little planet, so I guess I can be a little pissed.
The city begins to fade behind us and soon we are cruising along a winding road, Land on one side, ocean on the other. We haven’t said a word to each other for ages, but there is no awkwardness, just peace in the moment.
We pull into a small park on a hill overlooking the beach below. I took you here on our first date. I got so burnt that day, by the night I was a glowing lobster. You twisted your ankle trying to get down the overgrown path to the water. Even now, at the end, I wonder if our relationship would have survived so long if it were not for the spectacular failure of that first time and the joy it brought us both to see that we still wanted to be together.
I take a blanket from the boot of my care and you sit down on it. At first I do no join you, happy to watch your eyes as you gaze into the horizon and know that, whatever happens next, I would not want it to change if it meant losing this perfect moment. I sit beside you, legs spread out on the ground, and put my arm around your shoulders.
“I love you” It’s the first time I have said it to you. You do not stiffen, but you do not reply either. I do not expect one. The importance was not in the reciprocation but in the expressing of it, the open declaration of the joy you bring me.
My watch beeps as it hits ten. What happens next does not matter.