by Eric J. Krause
We stared out at the horizon, none of us saying anything. I had no idea what the other two were thinking, but I couldn't get my old high school crush out of my head. Funny since it'd been over twenty years ago now, and I had a great life, a great family. But with the impending doom coming, she's who my mind chose to flash to first.
Debbie Clark. We'd been in senior year Language Arts together. The memories that laid dormant for a couple of decades poured into my consciousness. We talked each day before class, and sometimes during. We'd crack each other up like old chums and shared gossip that had been life-altering at the time, but now would probably sound mind-numbingly stupid. Why didn't I ever ask her out? That answer wouldn't come, no matter how much of the past I let back in. Where was she at this moment? I hoped surrounded by loved ones like I was.
I rubbed Cindy's shoulders and sighed. She smiled up at me, dried tear tracks traced down her cheeks. Our attention went back to the horizon. The sun would be setting in a few hours, but we wouldn't be around to see it. I envied those in other time zones, those that got their final sunset. I always counted it as the best part of the day.
My first date with Cindy included the most beautiful sunset in recorded history. Maybe I'm a bit biased because that moment also featured our first kiss. We stood on the end of the Newport Beach pier and embraced as we watched the sea swallow up the sun, all framed with an orange and pink sky. We were one of many couples enjoying the moment, but all that existed for me was her. She later admitted the feeling was more than mutual.
I ran my fingers through Tabby's hair. She didn't look back, no doubt to spare Dad from seeing her cry. It was unfathomable I wouldn't get to see her grow up. She had such a kind heart and a sharp mind that she would have made me proud. As I focused back on the horizon, a flock of birds passed. I'm sure Tabby noticed. She always loved birds.
Ducks swam in a pond in the small park down the street from our first house. Cindy and I loved to push Tabby in her stroller down there. She'd sit and squeal in delight as she watched the ducks frolic and float. As she got older, she fed them stale bread crusts, an act which started her habit of eating crustless sandwiches. In the past year, I'd lost count of the number of injured birds or abandoned chicks that she brought home to care for. Cindy and I thought we'd need to put a foot down, but Tabby never asked for help. She nursed most back to health, and even when she lost a patient, she took it in stride. It was sad, but part of nature. We wondered if she'd be a veterinarian.
Of course, that was all before scientists discovered the interstellar comet heading right for Earth.
The light dimmed, and the air grew thick. This was it, and we had front row seats. Tabby buried her head into Cindy, and I engulfed them both in a bear hug. I felt their sobs and joined in with my own, but I couldn't hear anything over the unearthly rumblings, the thunder on hyperdrive. I tried to watch the huge rock enter the atmosphere, but it burned too bright.
I focused on the horizon and concentrated on the two angels in my arms.