“We interrupt your current programming to bring you dire news. After years of speculation, NASA has confirmed that we the world will come to an end. There is a meteor that has been heading to Earth for the past month. NASA has been working diligently trying to divert the meteor from planet earth with scenarios similar to those from the movie Armageddon. NASA has failed to prevent the meteor from reaching Earth on December 21st, 2012, a rather ironic date. It will coincide with a Solar Eclipse that will be visible to the Eastern Hemisphere at 7am. President Obama will have a press conference later today as to how the government will handle the last day of life on Earth. With us we have NASA scientist John Matthews explaining to us what exactly will occur when the meteor hits Earth. Now, I understand that this meteor will create an environment similar to the post-Dinosaur Age, is that –“
Shelly turned off her television and sank into the white linen couch in her basement, her feet up on the wooded chest coffee table, her hands crossed and hugging a pillow. She didn’t flinch or say anything for about five minutes until her brother Cody came running downstairs. He almost tripped over his plaid pajama pants as he ran to the couch and jumped into Shelly’s lap.
“Sister, did you hear the news? A meteor is going to kill everybody! I don’t wanna die, I’m ten years old!” He began to cry and Shelly’s eyes filled with tears, she put one arm around his wait and cradled with head with the other. She ran her fingers through his brown curly locks of hair.
“Everything will be okay, don’t worry.” Her eyes trying to fix their sight on something in the room, but there was nothing to grasp, all she did was hug Cody tighter and tighter.
“I’m really scared. And dad isn’t even home. Is he gonna come home in time? Mom is upstairs calling people. Shelly, what is going to happen to everyone?”
Shelly’s mouth tried to say something, but no words came out.
“Shelly?” he lifted his head from her chest and stared straight into her.
“I don’t know Cody. Let’s go upstairs and see what my mom has to say.
They walked upstairs slowly, their arms sluggishly hanging and swaying beside their heavy legs. Their mom was upstairs on the phone, tapping her fingers furiously on the table in a typing motion, her bare feet bouncing up and down, balancing on her big toes. Her eyes looked even greener as they swelled up with tears, they looked up at her children standing next to the island. She had been cooking when the news interrupted her.
The pasta water was still boiling on the stove – smells of onion, peppers, garlic, and pancetta filled the kitchen. The sun was already beginning to set over the East coast, and a few burnt orange rays came in through the French doors. The Hudson River was quiet around them as the fear began to set in. Laura’s attention remained on the phone trying to talk to somebody that could tell her something about her husband when President Obama came on the television screen. Laura hung up the phone and Cody climbed in her lap as they watched the news. Shelly stood behind her mom placing her hands on her shoulders, her face was still and quiet.
Shelly stared at the TV, she tried to pay attention but kept dazing off thinking about her last days on earth. She has just turned 18; she was excited about going to college. Just a few weeks ago she had sent her applications to NYU and Columbia, 12 years of her life wasted in school when she could have been traveling the world, meeting new people. And then her mind strolled back to reality and she listened trying to find out if her father would be coming home.
“I have been pulling back all of our troops from around the world and they will all be home within the next few hours so that they can spend the last few days with their families, as we all should,” said Obama holding on to his wife’s hand, as she held on to her daughters.
“Did you hear that, your daddy is coming home soon. Everything will be okay. Now,” she said taking a deep breath and wiping her tears off her cheeks, “how about I finish making dinner, then we’ll go into my room and watch movies all day?” she gave her kids a small grin.
“Mom, what is going to happen?” said Cody.
“Your dad will be coming soon, baby, that’s what’s going to happen. How about I finish dinner and we eat it in my room?” she smiled at them, lighting up Cody’s face.
“Really? But we aren’t allowed to eat anywhere but at the dining table?”
“Yes, baby, really. I’ll make an exception. And how about we watch some movies in my room, and have some ice cream for dessert?”
“Yay!” Cody ran out of the kitchen into the living. He played with his Lego’s while Laura and Shelly finished dinner.
“Mom, do you really think we are all gonna die?”
This was the first time her eyes watered while she chopped an onion. She put the knife down, “I don’t know, I hope not, but I think we need to try to enjoy these last few days. Your dad will come soon and all of us can be together.”
“Is this what you felt like when you had cancer? Not knowing whether you were going to make it or not?” Shelly continued to peel garlic cloves by cutting off the ends and smashing them, loosing the dry, flaky peel.
“No, this feels worse,” Laura flinched as Shelly pounded another clove, “we do not need that much garlic.”
“We are all going to die, and that’s all you can say?”
“What do you want me to say Shelly? You want keep pounding garlic, go for it. Here,” she said handing her the meat cleaver meant for the pork chops, “just smash it all up, why don’t you?”
Shelly took the meat cleaver and smashed the garlic over and over until her arm got tired. Cody heard the banging and headed into the kitchen, his mouth opened and stared at his sister. A piece of garlic flew up and landed on Shelly’s nose.
“Eww,” said Cody pointing at Shelly.
“Shut up!” Shelly took the piece of garlic and threw it at Cody, he jumped to the side almost stepping on his mom’s foot.
“Ha-ha! You missed.”
Shelly took another piece of garlic and threw it at Cody, but it landed on her mom instead. She took a piece of onion and threw it at Shelly, then threw another at Cody. Cody, refusing to be left out of the emerging food fight, grabbed a handful of chopped onion and threw it at her mom, just as Shelly was about to grab some onion herself, when the phone rang.
“Shelly, clean up. Cody, help her.” Laura hustled over to the phone.
Shelly watched as her mother’s eyes lit up with happiness. Cody was sweeping the floor as Shelly put the chopped vegetables into the hot sautéing pan. The sizzling crack of the oil reminded Shelly of the fireworks from the last 4th of July, she would never get to do that again. No more family barbeques, no more summers at the beach, no more of everything.
“Kids, you dad is already here. He will be here in a few hours. Let’s finish dinner so it can be ready when he gets here.”
“How is this possible? How come they are all here so soon?” said Shelly as she made sure the food didn’t burn.
“You dad said that all of the government officials knew about this since NASA first discovered the meteor is heading to Earth. He wasn’t allowed to tell us, he didn’t want to scare us or anybody. He hoped NASA would be able to fix things.”
“Does he think there is any chance of anyone surviving this thing? They said it might be like when the meteor hit Earth and the dinosaurs were here, some survived. Not everything died.”
“Oooh, dinosaurs!” said Cody.
“Cody, why don’t you go upstairs and change your shirt, you probably smell like onion, too.”
“Stop asking me these questions in front of your brother.”
“He’s ten, he’s not stupid, he is going to die too, you know.”
“And you think I don’t know? Shelly, I am scared for all of us. If I could die for you,” she began to sob, “for you to survive, I would.”
“So there is no chance of survival?”
“Your dad said that nuclear plants and weapons are the problem. All sorts of explosions can occur when the meteor gets here. Even if we don’t die from the meteor we can die from the nuclear explosions or the radiation.”
“So this is really it?”
“Yes,” said Laura walking over to hug her daughter.
“That Facebook group was right, I wasted my whole life in school.”
Laura managed to crack a smile at her daughter. She grabbed her cheeks, “I love you, Shelly. I really love you so much.”
“I love you, too mom.” The two were sniffing when Cody came back.
“Are you okay?”
“Come here you creepmouse.”
“Shelly, don’t call your brother that.”
“It’s okay mom, I know she loves me,” and he stuck his tongue at his sister, “Ahh.”
“Okay kids, dinner is taken forever and we don’t have much time. You dad will be here soon. Let’s put on some music. Shelly, can you DJ please.”
They finished up dinner and set up the table. It was a simple meal. Some penne tossed in the vegetables topped with the pancetta, a nice salad with Shelly’s white wine and mustard dressing, and some Pillsbury biscuits. Cody was going to make ice cream sundaes when his dad got home. They all sat down on the table and waited for their father to come. Shelly excused herself to go to the bathroom, but she went downstairs to the basement instead. She turned on the TV to see what was happening in the rest of the world. Chaos and peace were all taking place simultaneously. Israel and Palestine had announced peace. Israeli and Palestinian soldiers, along with all soldiers around the world had become civilians again and went home to their families, but even in a moment like these others decided it was the perfect moment to blow themselves up, to make one last statement. Bombings and mass suicides were taking place all over the world. Some people could not handle the idea of dying while burning up – could she? She hadn’t thought about that yet. She had thought about not being alive anymore, but she hadn’t thought of her actual death yet. How would it happen? Would a huge chunk of celestial matter hurl into their home? Would it be instant or slow? And then she saw all of the images of people amassing at the Vatican, and at the Taj Mahal, at all of these holy sites ready to face their death and their savior. Her family wasn’t really Catholic, Easter Sunday was the only time they ever went to church, and she just liked it because she got to dress up. What is going to happen to them when they die? What is going to happen to everyone?
“Shelly?” Where are you, your dad is home.”
She turned off the TV and headed upstairs. Her dad was there in his Army uniform, Cody clinging to him like a monkey. Shelly ran up to him and hugged him from behind.
“Shelly, I’ve missed you too, but you are really holding me very tight,” Andrew put Cody down and hugged Shelly.
“Daddy, I’m scared,” Shelly felt safe in her Dad’s arms. She held him for as long as she could, until her mom called them to the dinner table.
“Okay guys, let’s all sit down and have dinner.”
“Our last dinner,” mumbled Shelly.
Laura gave her a sneer then looked at Cody and smiled. “How about we say grace. Andrew?”
“OK… dear lord, thank you for allowing me to be back here with my family and for allowing us to be here together eating this great meal prepared by all of them. Amen.”
“Amen,” they all repeated.
“Let’s eat!” said Cody.
They all began to dig in, as they were enjoying their meal Cody spoke out, “What is going to happen to us when we die?”
Andrew, Laura, and Shelley all looked at each other.
“Well, Cody, we are all going to go to Heaven and be with your grandma and grandpa,” said Laura, taking a long sip from her glass of wine.
“So they’re gonna be there waiting for us?”
“Yes, and we’ll all be there together.”
“Can I go make ice cream sundaes?”
“Yes, honey, go ahead.”
Shelley just finished her meal, and the glass of wine her mother had allowed her and went to her parents’ room. She went just slid under the blankets and began to cry. She didn’t want to think about it. She just want it to be over.
A few minutes later Cody came into the room and hugged her.
“Don’t cry, Shelley. We are going to heaven with grandma and grandpa and everything will okay.”
Shelley hugged her brother tightly.
“Cody, you know I love you, right?” he nodded, “I mean, even though I call you a creep mouse and ugly, you know I love you?”
“Yea, sis, I know. I love you too.”
Their parents came in and got into the bed next to them. Cody got up and put on the Toy Story DVD on. They all cuddled together and watched their favorite movie. They slowly began to doze off and they all fell asleep. Shelley woke up when she saw a bright flash, she walked over to the window and look the eclipse, and small balls of fire falling from the sky. She stood there quietly thinking about everyone out there, the junkie getting his last fix, lovers sharing one last fuck, parents hugging their children, others putting them to sleep. She turned back and looked at her parents, her mother hugging Cody tightly, he was still asleep. Her dad motioned to her to go to him, she climbed back into the warm bed and laid in her father’s arms. She closed her eyes and prayed that she would be able to open them again.
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