I have the worst timing. Ever.
What am I supposed to do? A romantic sunset followed by a candle-lit dinner? We have no candles, and no sun anymore. But I guess I should have tried to do it before she lost her other hand. It’s hard to be romantic when you’re both covered in blood and she’s cradling the newly-cauterized stump of her right hand with the metal fingers of her left, trying not to cry.
That’s my Melina, determined to go through the end of the world with spotless mascara.
Me, I’ve been crying since, well, it feels like years. No, I didn’t cry when the apoptosis reactor started. I’m not a scientist or anything; I didn’t know what it would set off. But my cousin was on the first planet wiped out, and—yeah. I never seem to run out of tears.
Melina, though, Melina’s made me laugh through everything. She can make the most obscene gestures with the hydraulics in her left hand and—well, I could go on for years about all the things Melina can do. I think we only have about ten minutes left.
Maybe I should have just let her bleed out. It would’ve been gentler than waiting for the reactor to suck us in. It’s just, the med kit was right there and I couldn’t …
Well, I can’t wait either, terrible timing or no.
“I love you,” I say.
If she hears me, she doesn’t react. Which is fine; I mean, she’s in more pain than I can imagine and worse is coming and she doesn’t need me saying stupid things.
I keep going.
“I know that doesn’t mean much. I mean, it’s not like we can grow old together or anything and really it’s just all kind of pointless but I wanted you to know. That I love you. That you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. That—”
The rest of my words are drowned out as the far wall of the safe-house disintegrates into hefty chunks of concrete. The pieces vanish into nothing as they fall. Which is fine. Stupid thing to say, that all of this is worth it, because otherwise I wouldn’t have met you. The room around us is starting to shake, bits of the walls and furniture breaking off.
Melina reaches out and closes her hand around mine, hard and smooth and warm as living flesh. I start crying again. The table next to us shakes violently and vanishes. And then the big slab of broken sheeting that had cut off Melina’s right hand blinks away. She looks up at me and I wrap my arms tight around her. Her eyes are smeared with black. I’m still crying. She leans up and I lean in and we kiss as the ceiling shakes and vanishes. Most of the floor goes next, and then the nearest wall.
And then us.
—Caitlin Levine writes science fiction and fantasy from the American Southwest. She believes that words have the power to make the world a better place.