"So, the world's ending."
His false calmness only amplified his terror, it seemed.
"Yeah, I heard", I replied.
A few birds chirped in the distance and the wind blew softly. Stray leaves danced past us every few seconds or so. The sky was a pale blue, decorated with a few wisps of cloud scattered about. Sitting on the steps in front of the high school, this really didn't appear at all like the scene of an impending apocalypse.
"Do you know when?" he asked, already knowing the answer. This was only the topic of discussion left available to us because, with the threat of death only a few short weeks away, there was nothing left to talk about.
I took a deep breath. "November 13th. That's when the scientists predicted it will be."
A long pause followed.
"I should go home, it's getting late", he sighed.
I glanced upward to find that the sun was still upholding a strong reign on the skies... what a liar. He got up, lifted the backpack over his shoulder, and walked away, back to his house on the west side of town. I whispered an unheard goodbye and continued doing what I'd been doing for the past hour: staring at the pavement. I honestly didn't know what to think about all of this... the sudden reality of death, the fact that there was nothing any one of us could do about it; it was much too overbearing. So, I didn't think at all. I simply stared at the concrete below my feet, and waited. I waited for something, anything at all, that would make me feel alive again. I waited for something to spontaneously enter my life that would revive the vibrancy that I once had for this world.
If I wanted something interesting to happen to me, I apparently had to make it happen. Even in the face of death I wasn't allowed to be lazy. Half an hour after my friend departed, I too stood up from the chipped concrete steps. The streets were barren and cold. Not even the litter of the modern people made an appearance on my walk towards home. Not a sign of a single empty pop can, or even a bag of chips being tossed by the wind. I was alone on this walk, accompanied only by the rough, hard pavement beneath my steps and the lingering thought of doom on my mind.
At home, all was quiet except for the reporter on channel 2. My family (two parents and a younger brother) was huddled around the flat-screen, listening intently as the well-dressed woman in her mid-thirties read off details of everything we needed to know about our inevitable deaths in two weeks time.
I greeted them, but said nothing more. I didn't want to know the precautions necessary in order to ensure the best chance of survival... I just wanted emptiness, clear thoughts.
Upstairs in my grey-walled bedroom, I put my schoolwork down and made myself comfortable on the twin-sized bed. With the blinds closed, the only light source was the illuminated four inch phone I held in my hand. I called one of the few people I trusted entirely. "Hey", I half-whispered.
"Hola", she greeted in reply.
"Aside from preparing for the apocalypse? Not too much. How are you?"
Rain's casual tone, unlike my classmate from earlier, was completely sincere. She was almost unfazed that we were all going to die... and quite soon, at that. "I really don't know how I feel right now, to be honest. I think my stomach is going to just... wilt and die", I stupidly replied. I was never much for good word choice.
On the other end of the line, a slight giggling could be heard. "You know, you're thinking of this as two weeks left to live, Kyle. That's a terrible way of looking at it", she scolded. "How about... how about seeing it as two weeks to just be able to do whatever the hell you want?"
The knot in my stomach wasn't unraveled, but it certainly loosened. "Whatever the hell I want... like what?" I muttered confusedly into the phone.
"Oh, I don't know. What's something you've always wanted to do?"
"No clue. What are you doing these next two weeks, Rain?"
"Tell off everyone I've ever disliked, confess to that certain someone that I love them, buy a ton of expensive junk; you know, things like that", she listed out loud.
An interesting idea rapidly birthed inside of my fragile, unstable little mind.
"Quick question, do you think I could get to the other side of the country in two weeks?" I inquired.
"Probably, if you wanted it bad enough", Rain answered, "One problem though: you don't drive."
"I'll take a train, or hitchhike or something."
"I'm not advising against it or anything Kyle, but I honestly don't think you could pull it off. You're far too cautious, too safe... you've never tried anything even remotely close to something like this; you've never even skipped class. And furthermore... is she really worth it?"
My heart skipped a beat. "I hope so", I whispered.