Can’t Stay, Can’t Leave


I captured an outdoor table at our favorite local coffee shop as my girlfriend went inside to get the coffee. It was a pleasant midmorning, and casual strollers who got up before noon were enjoying the coolness of the morning.
Jill was inside getting the coffee.
There was a distant booming noise, as if thunder were rolling across the ground.
The air went white, and the temperature searing; my table flipped over and into me as a massive gout of firs shot down the avenue. Tumbling out of control down the street, seemingly no more heavier than a piece of paper litter, a blast of wind picked me up and threw me further, and the white of the sky grew brighter until it suddenly went black.
Death is a mercy.
I don’t know why I’m still alive; that shouldn’t be.
There are places where the rubble still smolders.
The radiation is patiently nibbling at my flesh, pulling bits of scraps like a jackal sneaking up on the panther’s kill.
I want to die. I need to die.
I’ve seen myself, and Jill wouldn’t have me now, if she was still alive.
Jill…Still, I feel her arm around my waist, see her hair shining in the sun, and the smile in her eyes as she laughs at another one of my dumb jokes. It’s either sincere, or she’s a good actress, but I love that she makes the effort if she is acting.
I’m going to miss her laughter.  I start to cry.
I’m all alone here. 
Just for the hell of it, I reach out to touch her…

The shards went everywhere, hit everything.
People died from the places they went, and no matter how I try, I can’t look away from the carnage.
Eddie’s gone, but so is the chair where he was sitting.
The rest of the people are piles of bloody ashes in the street, up and down the block.
Arcs of hot light are streaking the air, so I stay low, looking for survivors, for first responders, for anything, but nothing is moving.
No one is coming.
I know I’m in shock, but I don’t scream, I just focus on trying to find Eddie, knowing it’s stupid to try, but there’s nothing else to do now.
There’s certainly nowhere to go.
I don’t even know what the hell went wrong, but it went wrong fast.


I don’t know why I’m still alive; that shouldn’t be.
The air shimmered in front of me, in the shape of a hand.
Jill, you’re hallucinating; don’t be stupid.
But just for the hell of it, since no one’s watching, I reach my hand up, and invisible fingers grasp mine.
Hands touch without meeting, and I don’t know what he sees wherever he is, but we stay like that because I can’t go to him, and he can’t come to me.
I’m going to miss his stupid jokes. I start to cry.
In the distance, I hear the first of many sirens start to wail.

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