The Last Day
Amrita. Age 14. Menlo Park, California

This was it. The last day on Earth.

The words echoed ominously in Annabelle’s mind. Annabelle watched her baby brother playing in the corner and it occurred to her that he would never live to be two. She would never live to be thirteen. Annabelle felt an irresistible rage bubbling inside of her. Her father had passed away a year earlier, and she was still reeling from the shock. Annabelle had never confided in anybody about her father’s death because she didn’t forgive him for leaving her family.

She knew that he didn’t want to die, but she couldn’t help feeling angry that her father had left right when she needed him most.

Annabelle’s mother appeared in the doorway.

“Your father would be proud. You’ve been so strong. Strong enough for all of us.”

Annabelle turned around, resisting her mother’s embrace. She couldn’t admit to her mother that the reason she was able to stay strong was because she hadn’t allowed herself to grieve and had instead used her anger for strength.

Her mind flashed back to the newscast on television announcing the meteor’s incoming path.

How pathetic that a television broadcast had been their death notice! They all deserved more than this.

Annabelle needed somebody to blame for what was happening. She needed to believe that the world was ending for a reason.

But everybody knows nature has a strange way of working, and Annabelle knew she had to accept what was happening. In less than twelve hours, Earth would be nothing.

* * * * * * * * * *

Mr. Bartley sat in his rocking chair. The chair had been in his family for years. His wife and children would relax there and read.

Now it was just Mr. Bartley sitting in the chair. He had watched his children grow up and move away, and he had been there for his wife as she uttered her last words.

A picture on the windowsill got Mr. Bartley’s eye. It had been taken years ago on a family trip in Barcelona. Mr. Bartley smiled bitterly, reminiscing about a time that now seemed so far away.

Perhaps it was because he was fortunate enough to live longer than most of the townspeople, but Mr. Bartley felt ready to die. Or maybe it was because he understood that there was no escaping the inevitable.

* * * * * * * * * *

A single teardrop slid down Javier’s cheek. Until this moment, he hadn’t allowed himself to cry. He knew he had to be strong, if not for Liz then for his unborn baby. It pained Javier to think that he would never get to hold his son. He wouldn’t be there for his first steps or his first laugh. Javier had only just found love and for the first time in his life, his future appeared bright with possibility.

How was it that a hunk of rock could change everything? Javier dug his fingernails into his palm furiously.

Maybe he would make it out alive. Maybe the meteor would miss Earth and everyone would be okay. Maybe it would change path and hit somewhere else.

Javier felt a hand on his shoulder and whirled around. His wife, Liz, offered him a cup of coffee. Javier wiped his eye and downed the frothy drink. It occurred to him that this would be the last cup of coffee he would ever drink.

All of a sudden the walls seemed to close in around him, and Javier felt trapped.

“Come on.”

Liz hesitated. “Javier, I don’t know. They told us to stay inside.”

“Come on! What’s the worst that could happen?”

Javier carefully led Liz through the woods, knocking away thorny branches along the way.

Javier stopped. They had reached his special spot, a wooded area that overlooked a small waterfall. Javier had discovered the secluded area one day when he was chopping trees. It was a place that was his own, and he often went there to sit and think. Javier and Liz climbed onto the rocks. For a long time, neither of them said anything. The two just sat there, relishing the musical sound of the water trickling over the rocks.

Eventually, Javier held Liz’s hand and the two began the trek home.

* * * * * * * * * *

That evening, a bell rang out across the valley. Everybody gathered their most valued possessions and huddled in the town square.

The ground rumbled violently and the townspeople held on to each other. A bonfire was lit and people started throwing their belongings in the fire.

A feeling of impending doom hung over everyone.

Annabelle flung the picture of her father into the fire. It was the last one taken of him before his death, and Annabelle knew that her father would have been proud.

“I forgive you.” Annabelle smiled sadly and a kind of peace came over her for she knew that soon she would join her father and somehow, that made everything better.

As Mr. Bartley watched the flames consume his wedding ring, he had no regrets. The ring was his way of realizing that he was happy to have loved and lost, rather than to not have loved at all. And in that moment, Mr. Bartley realized that he was going to be okay.

Javier held a pacifier in his hand. He understood that what was happening couldn’t be controlled. He didn’t know if they were all pawns in a game, or subjects in a deadly experiment, but Javier knew that he had done his best.

Although it was unfair that Javier would never get to see his son, he couldn’t do anything but accept the truth. As Javier dropped the pacifier in the fire, he felt stronger than ever.

Across the town square, a revelation was happening. Rivals shook hands and mothers hugged daughters. It seemed that everybody was getting one last chance to leave Earth in peace.

In that moment, nothing really seemed to matter. The sky turned black for the last time and a dark cloud descended upon the valley.

Everyone joined hands in a big circle.

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