BaxterMature

           Good luck, bad luck.

           I had finally found more people, one of them an actual living breathing woman with hair like fire, eyes as blue as the sky, and a body made for marathons! And she had to walk into my life with guy on her arm, a skinny pain-in-the-ass who seemed to think I was some kind of psychopath.

          I get it, he just met me, he wanted to protect the girl- but he was just as rude as every American I'd met before, not bothering to give me a chance, just assuming I was bad news. The only wrong I intended to do him was steal his girl if at all possible, and could you blame me? If another didn't show up soon, I was going to go nuts. Being alone is very wearing.

          What might help me is having an actual friend, but he was more interested in being an ass.

          I was just frustrated. Tomorrow would be better.

         I told her the fish was amazing and thanked them for dinner.

         "What do you want to watch?" she asked. Genevieve. Beautiful name.

          "I am up for anything, really," I said. "What do you have?"

          She laughed, a sound like bells, or, well, shit, I don't know how to describe what it's like to hear a woman's voice after being alone for so long. Every sound she uttered was like Mozart brought to life. He was composing in my ear and I loved it.

          "We have everything," she explained. We followed her to the living room and she opened the entertainment centre up, showing row after row of movies, then she opened a drawer, dragging a huge case out and plopping it on the coffee table. "Guest gets to choose!"

          I pulled out Merlin, season one from the BBC. "Is this alright?"

          "Yes, but if we start this series together, I can't watch the last episode with you guys."

           "Why? Is it bad?"

          "She wouldn't know," her friend, Everett, said, leaning up. "She never watches the last episode of any series. It makes it final, and she likes rewatching stuff too much to let it end."

          Oh how cute, he knew her so well. Great. "So how long have you two been together?" I asked as she inserted the DVD into the player.

          "About seven years," he said at the same time she replied "About 8 months."

          She frowned at him. "He means we've known each other for about seven years. He found me a little over a year ago and we've been involved for about eight months."

          "Details," he muttered, settling into the couch opposite me. She started the show and sat in the middle between us, but the equal distance was short lived. About five minutes in he snaked an arm around her, pulling her against him. We watched two episodes before I'd had enough of the tension and thanked them, excising myself til tomorrow. She made me promise to come back for lunch and I agreed.

          They both saw me to the door. She was openly disappointed that my departure came so early, and I took that false hope home with me, carrying it with me in my dreams.

          I heard the rooster Genevieve had warned me about. I pried my eyes open and headed down to my kitchen to make coffee. I sat at the table in a stupor while I drank. Once I'd finished one cup, I headed back upstairs to get dressed and take care of the gardens I'd planted. Genevieve waved to me from her kitchen window as I crossed the street. I smiled and waved back, but she gestured for me to come over.

          "I know you probably have to get to work, so I made you something you can carry." She handed me a sandwich on thick homemade bread, thickly layered with chicken, ham, and bacon.

          "Thanks," I said, surprised. She also handed me a water bottle.

          "Orange juice from those frozen canisters. Work hard! I hope you planted some tomatoes!" She waved me off cheerily and I walked to the end of the block, starting on the furthest plot.

          There wasn't a terrible amount of upkeep involved yet, just some weeding and watering. I had hoses hooked up at all the houses to make the watering easier. I finished at their yard before lunch, so I headed back to my house to clean up. I toyed with the idea of wearing a suit, but my brain was misfiring due to hormones, so I dismissed it and settled on a button up and a nice pair of jeans. I even shaved, it was crazy.

          At noon, I headed over. Genevieve opened the door before I could even knock. My jaw almost dropped at the sight of her in a white dress, the skirt flaring out around her toned porcelain legs. "Oh good! I told Ev to dress nice too- we can have a fancy lunch!"

          I followed her inside, trying not to focus on the way she moved when she walked. I made it to the table without staring by doing advanced algebra in my head, which was lucky because Everett was already sitting there, also in a button-up and jeans, and eyeing me.

          "Hey," he said, nodding. I guess I'd passed some sort of test?

          Genevieve confirmed this. "We would like to thank you for not killing us in our sleep. I would also like to give you this." She handed me a ring. "It's the one ring. We found a box of about fifty in a collector's house- it's real gold. Not that things like that matter anymore. If that doesn't fit, let me know. I want to give one to every person we find, as a symbol of unity for the last of us."

          I closed my hand around it, sadness enveloping the room for a moment. "I just wish we knew," I muttered finally.

          "We all do," she said, turning to set the table.

          We ate well and actually laughed and joked. I couldn't believe how much I craved simple conversation. Even Everett was warming up quickly, asking about my hometown and if I'd ever traveled. "I used to go to South Korea every summer to stay with my grandparents and help them out. That's actually where I learned everything I know about gardening. Other than that, and running around the continent searching for others, I haven't really been anywhere."

           "Me neither," Genevieve said. "Everett's been a bunch of places, but before now I'd only ever been to a few states."

          "Do you guys want to play cards?" he asked, standing up. "I'll clean up if you want to go get them, Genevieve."

          She bounced out of the kitchen and I stood to help him clear the table.

          "I'm sorry if I was rude yesterday," he said.

          "Don't worry about it man, I underst-"

          "But let me be clear," he continued, cutting me off. "Genevieve is as good as my wife. We can all be good friends here, and believe me when I say I know how difficult it is to be without a companion, but she is not for you, and that's all I'm going to say on the matter."

           "Alright, I get it," I said, piling the dishes in the sink. He washed and I dried while Genevieve puttered around the living room, setting it up for game time.

           We walked in to see the couch cushions on the floor, surrounding the coffee table which had a pile of board games on one side, a deck of cards in the middle, and three glasses of lemonade on the other end.

           "I said cards, 'Vieve," Everett said, amused but not surprised. I was beginning to understand them a little bit. She was obviously in tune with her inner child. No wonder he felt like he had to protect her.

           "I know but then I saw Uno, and then I saw Scategories, and then I saw Clue- I love Clue, you know, and it's just not the same with two players-" she paused. "Um, so- what first?"

          "I'm just happy to be here," I said honestly. "Why don't you guys decide?"

          We spent the rest of the day enjoying each other's company. I even helped make dinner. Expired tortilla chips actually make great nachos. By the end of the night, the only remaining source of tension was an inner source: my desire for the last woman on earth.

          If you thought about it, it would be prudent for her to bear both our children, for the sake of the human race. What struck me as odd was the fact that they didn't seem at all interested in having children together. If I'd found her when he did instead, she'd be about to have our firstborn. A boy. Her eyes.

          Give me a break, I was lonely, and a little nuts from thinking I was the last man on earth for over a year.

The End

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