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Charlie

“So they say the end is near, Charlie.”
“No, it’s not.”

The two stood not quite facing each other, their eyes wandering like foam in the surf, looking anywhere, anywhere but at the other person. He had his hands jammed into the bottom of his pockets. She clasped a set of books to her chest. A moan was heard in the distance.
“You can’t just deny things, you know. You can’t just pretend the world isn’t crumbling all around you.” she said. Her fingers turned white gripping the books.
“If the world’s ending, shouldn’t I spend it my way?”
“You just contradicted yourself.”
He was silent. A breeze rolled past on the air, tickling the hairs on their arms. When nothing was said, she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
“Well, say something.”
Charlie looked toward the horizon. It was jagged, like broken glass, ruined by a cityscape.
“It’s hideous.” he said.
“You say that about everything. Really.”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“You shaved the side of your head.” she mentioned, taking a step forward. Her tiny foot made a sound. He flinched.
“So?”
“I never noticed that.” She took her step back and looked away. Three leaves rolled past her feet. Silence.
The sky grew darker. He brought a hand to the side of his head, feeling the tiny bristles beneath his fingertips. The rest of his hair fluttered about his jawline. He favored asymmetry, just as the universe did.
“It’s been a while.” she said in that manner of hers.
Charlie stared. Her immaculate bob was not so immaculate anymore. The breeze certainly was picking up; he meant to say something to her. “So it has.”
“You’re different.”
“So it goes.”
“Don’t you know I hate Vonnegut? Stop that.”
Charlie’s eyes rolled in their sockets. “If only I knew who that was.”
“You wouldn’t.”
“Humor me.”
Her eyes drifted back toward him. “All I’m saying is if you weren’t so busy vandalizing, then…”
Rain began to drip from the sky. A few drops landed on her cheeks, staining them black. She wiped the residue away with a self-conscious hand.
“All I’m saying is-”
“You’ve said enough.” Charlie told her.
“Fine.” she said. She hugged the books to her chest. “But when you die tonight, I hope you know that-”
“Jesus, enough with this end of the world business. You know it’s a joke.”
“You’re insulting my intelligence.”
“I’m only returning the favor.”
Her jaw tightened. Inside of her shoes, her toes curled. “I shouldn’t have bothered stopping you. I only wanted to-”
“I know.”
“Good.”

She walked away.




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