Lenox Grayson was the winner of my flash fiction contest back in June. Her entry, which you're about to read, was amazing. I hope you enjoy!
The sunshine tasted sour. It would be the last thing I ever felt against my skin, the dying light of a star. My wife stood beside me, her hands clasped against her mouth while fat tears rolled down her cheeks. Our neighbors were gathered on their front lawns, suspended in a moment of sheer, unbridled terror. Our two kids were playing with the dog, too innocent to understand. No one could bring themselves to explain that we had minutes left. Maybe seconds. Time is strange when the world is ending. Where was God now?
The sky was too bright. My son was tugging on my pant leg. I couldn’t look down. I couldn’t face those big brown eyes. The life that was never to come. My hand reached out and I scratched the top of his head, unable to move. I didn’t want to be afraid. I didn’t want my last seconds on this rock hurtling through space to be one of inescapable dread. Our neighbors were shocked. The Wilson’s, right across the street, were tossing suitcases in their blue minivan. What were they thinking? You cannot outrun this.
This was our destiny all along. To die like the dinosaurs. Wiped out until nothing remains but dust. In one minute or a few seconds, today will be gone. Tomorrow will be nothing more than a dream. It was terrifying to think about. Everything I did in my life, all the places I’ve been, the music I’ve heard, the people I met, will become ash. My wife began praying. To what god, I couldn’t tell. Not that it mattered anyway. The burning was inescapable. A hot searing pain against my skin.
I gritted my teeth and continued to stare up at the star that had given our planet life for millions of years. Perhaps staring at it would help, one last stubborn battle against what cannot be fought. And I watched as it began to explode. I could hear sounds, the cries of anguish, the pleas of my wife. None of it mattered. The strange part was it all was for nothing. We had seconds left. I gathered my sons in my arms, pulling them hard against my chest.
My wife bent down, and I wrapped my thick arms around her as well. I was the protector. I would keep them safe. Our dog was confused. I could feel her damp nose grazing my knee. She thought it was a game.
There was a strange unity in those last moments. As the sun began to explode. There were no races, no genders, no social classes. We were together in those final moments. Humans, breathing the last bit of air we had. Humans dying, as we were brought into this world, together.
It’s so bright now. All I can see is white. I heard someone calling out into the merciless heavens. He’s declaring he loves all of us. And I find myself loving them too. Strangers. For we are all going to die now, and perhaps all that's left was love. No more hate. No more pain.
There’s a great roaring sound. I can feel my skin begin to melt. I can still feel my family in my arms. There’s too much to be said. Too little time. The world is ending and there’s nothing I can do. All I can do is feel my love for what remained.
“Kids,” My voice is grating. “Close your eyes.”
Follow Lenox on Instagram: @the_lost_narnian