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End of the World
It is the end of the world. It was reported approximately two days ago that the world would end in exactly five days. It would all be due to a plummeting asteroid.
We were told the deplorable news Monday morning over Laneville High's intercom system. The shaky principal's voice came over the system telling us that there is news of a fatal asteroid that would hit the earth on Friday, and would not leave people to see Saturday. He then proceeded to tell us that if you would like to pick up your diploma you could do so in the office.
I remember that day more clearly then any other memory present in my mind. It is not that it was only two days ago or that it was the day I was told I was going to die. No, the reason I remember it so well is because of the reactions.
Chaos. That is what the intercom message should have brought to the school and it did. Some people began to cry and a few stoner boys that sat in the back of my class got up to leave and mumbled something about not dying sober. Some girls ran through the halls trying to find the boys they had crushed on through out the year, but were to nervous to do anything about before. Some cheerleader hugged the chess team captain and told him she admired his intelligence. Some Goth girls went into the bathroom and removed their heavily applied black eyeliner. Some jock boys ran down the halls unwinding rolls of toilet paper that fall on the floor behind them. Some honor roll students threw their textbooks away in the nearest trash can and commented on saving a few to burn for later. Some Health teacher lit a cigarette and walked down the hall high-fiveing a few of the jocks. Some girl dumped her boyfriend claiming she loves his best friend more. And I went to find my friends.
My closest friends were not that hard to find. I had found them easily wandering down the hall trying to find someone else. They were doing what everyone else was doing, looking for someone. The bizarre part about everyone's reaction was that no one was rushing off campus. Everyone was too scared to leave one of the last normal things there was in their lives. Eventually though you have to leave.
I had parted with my friends that day underneath the arch of knowledge in front of my school. We all promised to call after we went home to see our families. Some of us rushed home and others took the longest roads and slowest speed dreading reaching home. Dreading what they would find.
The memory of walking through my front door that day will forever be imbedded in my mind. I had hardly appeared in the doorway when I saw my mother. She was sitting on our black leather couch, remote control in hand, watching the news. Her cheeks were stained with mascara black tears. Her eyes were emotionless as she turned to look at me. Her expression said everything. She was numb with disbelief.
I remember falling apart right at that moment. It was something about seeing my mother completely without hope that made me reach my breaking point. It was then that I let myself realize the extent of my problems. It was then that I realized it was all truly happening.
You always wish for something to happen so that you would not have to go to school. Well that has finally happened. After Monday I never went back.
After given the date of your death you would think that most people would fly to Europe or somewhere they had always desired to go. Some did go on their dream vacations, booking them mere minutes after they heard the news. Most did not leave the country or their town. Most stayed.
My mother had barely spoken since that day. She mostly has just sat in the very same spot in front of the TV, unsure if she should move. At first I tried to talk to her. On Monday, the day we heard the news, I had gone to her side and hugged her. I kept saying over and over that we would be okay. She sat motionless and did not say anything.
"I'm leaving," I said as I turned the doorknob and shoved the door open.
I walked through not even waiting for a response. I knew she heard me. Her lack of response did not bother me since it was not the first time.
I had made plans with one of my friends that day. We were planning to walk through town and just soak up the atmosphere. We just wanted to enjoy our last few days.
“Hey.” I said as I approached my friend that sat on a small bench outside a gas station that was a few blocks from my house.
“How is your mom?” they asked as they stood from the bench.
It could have been any day by how we were acting.
“One of my neighbors left on a trip yesterday to Tokyo,” commented my friend as we started to walk down the sidewalk.
“That is cool which one?” I asked distracted by looking around.
I could not help but to notice the dire state the town seemed to be in. Gone were the days of bustling shoppers rushing home and busy workers rushing to their jobs. Cars were even less frequent on the road. People that were out only seemed to be out just to wander around and give them something to do.
“The family that lives in the red brick house with a white door was the ones that went.”
I looked through the window of a small little bookstore as we passed. Perhaps once or twice were the only times I had been in there. I found myself squinting to see if I could catch a glimpse of life. There at the counter appeared a woman with graying hair and a mind full of memories. She was leaned over her counter and would occasionally flicker her glance around the store as if each corner held a different memory that she was fonder of then the last. Her gaze found mine and I quickly looked away embarrassed that I was caught peeking at something so intimate.
“Did you know them?”
“I never was really close with any of my neighbors,” shrugged my friend.
We passed a clothing store that was dark from the lack of light. It used to be a bridal shop. There still stood one mannequin in the very middle of the store draped in a startling white dress. It was off the shoulders and had a train that was twice the mannequin’s height. The dress was extraordinary and captured my attention for the majority of the time, but that was not the feature I would always remember. Black veil that precariously covered only one eye and left the other completely exposed that emphasized the haunting blank look in the mannequin’s eyes; this is what haunted me.
“Yeah, me either. The only one I knew was the kid that mowed my lawn every now in then.”
“I just do not seem to have enough time to go out and get to know them.”
The medium sized independently owned grocery store was what we passed next. Even with our certain demise approaching people were still out buying food. The owner stood at a cash register ringing up people all alone as the line piled up with impatient people. All of his employees had quit within seconds that they heard the news.
“Did you get your diploma?” questioned my friend.
LIQUOR HERE was lit up brightly in the window of the store I passed next. Underneath the bright neon shine was a little paper sign scrawled out with a common black pen that read: ID NOT REQUIRED. I peered closer into the store and saw a boy no older then fourteen handing a brown bottle containing an unknown liquid. A balding man gave a heavy sigh as he took the bottle and scanned the barcode. There was a postcard of the Eifel Tower hanging above the cash register it read clearly: YOU CAN FULFILL YOUR DREAMS. He took the crumpled twenty from the young teen and gave one more longing glance at the small postcard before he put the money in the cash register.
“I went and picked one up. There was no point not to,” I shrugged and continued down the street as if nothing happened.
“My dad pressured me to get mine. When I brought it home mom stuck it in a frame and hung it up,” my friend shook its head. “
The next store was one I will never forget till the day I leave this world. Electronics had never once interested me before, but I found myself peering into that stores window that day. There flashing on the display T.V.s were words I would never forget: Asteroid Scare Over.
My friend and I did not stop to say goodbye both of us were headed to the same place just in different locations. Neither of us had to tell the other what we already knew. I ran with the greatest speed I will ever have in my life.
Opening my front door and finding the scene that played before me was very much like the first day this whole ordeal commenced. I found my mother sitting on our black leather couch, remote control in hand, watching the news. Her cheeks were stained with mascara black tears. Her eyes were different. The cold, emotionless eyes I had grown accustomed to were gone. What replaced the coldness was hope. Her eyes red from tears and lack of sleep were full of hope that I thought she would perish without.
“Hey,” I said quietly as I shut the door.
“We are saved,” my mother uttered as if she did not believe it herself.
It was in a flash of a few seconds that I found myself in my mother’s arms. Her once cold bare arms had found the strength to be warm again. I found myself feeling safe in her embrace.
“We are going to live,” she muttered one last time to convince herself.
That asteroid could have come. It could have launched itself upon this world and ended each and every life. The asteroid could have blown us all to smithereens. It would not have mattered. It was the possibility of death that caused us to change not the actual act of death. That asteroid could have some, but that is not what took our hope and our dreams away. Possibility of death is what caused our aguish. It caused us to evaluate our lives and realize just what they were missing. That asteroid caused the whole world to lose every single ounce of hope at the same time, but gave it back and made each person realize what they truly wanted out of life. It does not matter that the asteroid did not come down upon our world and kill us all. It still changed the world.