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Let us die laughing.
Ella stared incredulously at the familiar parcel of wrinkled paper in her hand, shivering slightly. She had seen it before, the same stained edges and barely legible writing. Weeks before, it had been an amusing occurrence, wafted up through the roadside drain on her way to school. Four days later, it was a coincidence, as she stumbled across the wadded paper while emptying the garbage. Today, however, it was unnerving. The mysterious scribe seemed more urgent in his message, the paper more abused and tattered than previously. Quite frankly, when she found it taped to the bathroom mirror it had practically been screaming her name, begging her to read it: “Ella. After the green flash appears with the sunset. This world will no longer be. Prepare yourself and others close to you.”
Somehow she had known this was coming all along. When Ella was born with her twin sister, her mother took them to be examined by a “spiritual chief” from a clan of “Mayan legacies” that she had found in an ad in the newspaper. The group claimed to grant people special spirituality and good luck. Untrue to their word, however, they had turned her mother away saying she was a terrible omen. They said Ella and her sister would bring the fall of the earth. The ridiculous prediction had sent her mother storming out of the building, her precious infants tucked in each arm.
Standing in front of the mirror, Ella wanted to carelessly toss the note over her shoulder and forget about the situation, writing it off as a practical joke that some cruel person was playing on her. However, Ella found herself compelled to believe the writer, and to listen to his message of forewarning. Stumbling into the kitchen, she rummaged around for her favorite comfort food of graham crackers and milk. A tired voice sounded from the couch in the next room, “Ella,” her sister called, “if you’re looking for the grahams, they’re in my room by the dresser.”
Ella grabbed the box from it’s hiding place. “Uh thanks, Sunny,” she said sarcastically as she pulled out the last half of a crumbled graham, “way to save some for me.” She sighed at the silent reply from her twin sister.
Ella had never been close to her sister, never taken the time to make an effort. The 2 minute age difference was hardly an excuse for the distance between them, but Ella seemed to accept that they would never quite understand each other. Sunny was painfully shy, and appeared to enjoy just about nothing she ever did. At about the age of five, Ella stopped trying to include her in games of Barbies and Polly Pockets, and soon gave up trying to speak with her all together. The two siblings rarely fought, and never saw much of each other, despite the fact that they had lived under the same roof for fifteen years. If the world really did end, Ella thought, she wasn’t sure Sunny would even notice.
Finishing the last bite of her snack, Ella looked in the seemingly empty box and was surprised to find a paper folded at the bottom. She pulled it out and read, “Sunny. This sun not will shine much longer. Prepare yourself and others close to you. The world will no longer be.” Ella’s internal organs momentarily stopped functioning as she digested the words on the page. So Sunny knows, she thought slowly, and maybe it really would end.
Ella pressed her hands to her temples, got up, and walked out the front door of the apartment into the crisp fall air. She walked down the sidewalk, head spinning. People everywhere were going about their daily routines. Serious men in stiff pinstripe suits chattered in undertones to their bluetooth business calls, while families rolled their strollers of children lazily across the intersection. Everywhere, people were living a typical day, unaware of the fate that lay ahead of them. Unfinished matters and heavy burdens hung above people like rainclouds, ready to burst into a drenching downpour of regret. Ella wondered what people would do if they had only one day to live, and if maybe solutions would come more easily to them in a case of emergency.
She looked back to a day several years ago, when she had stood on the same street corner, watching the waves of people come and go just as they were now. A young man had stood on the other side of the street, his ragged clothing matching his nervously shaking hands. The sad ensemble had been tied together with the hot tears that filled his wild eyes and splashed down his cheeks- one after another. Rain poured down his face, as he lifted his hands to the sky and stepped out into the awaiting traffic. In less than seconds, it was over for him. Ella had been left in shock, still standing on the opposite side of the perilous road, staring at the sight before her.
That man had died in fear, drenched in his own sadness. He had never succeeded in lifting the burden off his shoulders, before he decided to let it all fall apart.
Ella wondered if everyone died in tears like the man on the street, or if perhaps it was possible for people to fly away happily from their lives.
Lifting her head up from her thoughts, Ella grasped a flower from a sidewalk tree and plucked it from it’s branch. She walked through the crowds of ignorant people, and found the place where the sad man had stood before his last step. Carefully, she set the powder-pink flower on the ground, a memory of beauty for him to never see.
Ella stood quickly then, and let her feet carry her back to the stony apartment, her mind floating high above the top of her dark hair. With only a few hours left, Ella prepared herself to fix the one thing that was holding her back from happiness. Ella opened the door and stepped inside onto the cool tile floor. Sunny sat on the couch, unmoved since Ella had left. Ella moved towards her sister, following an invisible thread that pulled her forward. “Sunny,” she began, “Hey. I’m Ella. I like rainy days, graham crackers and milk, and watching the sunrise from the roof. And I’ve also got a twin. A sister who I’ve never truly understood, and never tried know until now.” A single tear dropped clumsily from her eye onto her open palm, “but I love her. Even if she doesn’t know it. And I want to start over.”
“Hi Ella,” she took my shaking hand and carefully looked up, “I’m Sunny. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” Sunny’s expression showed Ella the forgiveness she had been looking for all along. Slowly, the two sisters began to talk. It was a novel concept to both of them, as they shared stories and cautiously began to open up to each other. Slowly at first, but gradually picking up pace, hands ticked in methodical circles past the numbers on the clock that sat above them as they spoke. Fifteen years of love, regret, and laughter came pouring out into the air for them to experience together. Ella was surprised that Sunny had a lot more personality than she had ever known, and as they began to bond with each other, the impending doom of the end of the world seemed to fade away.
At last, as the sun began to lower past the tree line from the window, the reunited sisters climbed up the narrow stairwell to the roof of their building. They sat on the cool grey stone, sipping strawberry milk and giggling childishly at themselves as they dunked graham cracker bits into their glasses. They almost forgot the reason they were watching for the green flash at the sunset, because for once, they didn’t care. If they were to die, they would die happy. They would die laughing. And as the last rays of sun disappeared below the horizon, all that could be heard was the sound of two sisters, laughing together as they awaited the end.