Nuclear Winter

A short love story? I’m not sure. I did enjoy writing this piece. As always, this has not been edited so it’s filled with mistakes. You have been warned.

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Waving crashing on the road leading to the nearest town, tiny stars glimmering in the darkness of the night sky; mother was right – this was truly the best time to mend a broken heart. The leaves on the apple tree, rustling as a gentle breeze caressed its silky texture; slightly undulating grass blades bowing before the breeze, glistering underneath the sandy shores of the aether. Sliding his hands out of his pocket, he struck the ground with his pocket knife; holding his breath, he let out a long sigh. A light haze sprang forth from his mouth; his mind wandered into the past as it materialized into a voice. “Hope, Hope, Hope” it whispered. A warmth touched his shoulder as he turned around. Nothing. It was a warmth long gone.

Sirens off shore, echoing in the distance; he tried to listen to its warning. It sang of an impending danger, it sang of an uncertain future but most of all… it sang of a long forgotten past. As a small firecracker set off, his instincts sprang forth. Turning around, grabbing a hold of his knife, he saw her: dressed in a striped, long, flowing dress, she grabbed a hold of her sun hat. He could barely distinguish her face amidst the darkness but it was that scent. It was the way she moved. It was the way she held her bag. It was her intoxicating spirit that called to him.

She stopped a few steps away from him, taking off her hat. A powerful wind threw her off balance as he sprang towards her, holding her side. She looked up at his face, gazing at his eyes; he smiled back as his flustered face tried not to waver.

“Do you always hold on so gently?” She asked, grabbing her long dark hair as it covered her face. Holding it with one hand, her lips formed a smile, “I remembered you were the clumsy one.”

Holding on to her, he grabbed her hands, helping her to her feet. “You didn’t stay long enough to find out, Hope.”

Hope turned away, looking at the road as it snaked its way along the sea. Waves crashing on the road, agitated, scared; something had intimidated Poseidon. She remembered almost as it was yesterday: she was standing in this same spot, holding her weight against its rough surface. It was cold, no, it was freezing. She couldn’t feel her finger tips or her legs. Her breath raising through the echoes of a feast. Firecrackers and booze; it all clouded her judgment. Hope couldn’t remember what words came out of her mouth but she knew what they meant.

“It was my fault… all of it,” she held the tips of her fingers, it wasn’t cold. “Francis, it was entirely my fault,” tears fell down her cheeks, “it’s funny how I’m still crying at he same old spot.”

Francis looked down at the road, the same road he traversed twelve years ago. He was young and fooling; madly in love with a young woman as foolish as he was. He walked that cold road, barefooted, as waves crashed and water splashed before him. Feet wet, pants soaked; he trembled from cold’s frigid embrace. A cigarette in his right hand, it’s fire had long since been dozed by the salty spray. He remembered being so disheartened, so ashamed of himself. How he begged and cried but not even God listened. Words that still echo in his head – don’t chase that which you can never obtain.

“You seemed pretty happy at that time.” He said. “I guess love’s never really been a solution to anything.”

“The next day, you left without saying goodbye.” Hope replied.

“I didn’t have anyone to say goodbye to.”

“You had me.”

“I had nobody.”

“I waited for you here, I asked you to stay.”

“I asked you to come with me, that’s why I never came.”

Francis remembered looking out his window and seeing her standing beneath the same tree, crying. He knew it was for the best. He knew Hope was a pillar that would soon collapse upon him. Smiling, Hope looked at the carving on the tree’s bark, caressing the shape and the initials inscribed within it. Francis knew he’d only have one last chance.

“Francis, isn’t th-” Hope’s lips made full contact with Francis’ cold lips. As cold became consumed by the warmth, she held him in her arms, slowly sliding the tips of her fingers along his back as he caressed her sides down to her buttocks. Her eyes reflected the stars in the darkness of oblivion as she became hypnotized by a bright light. Looking back, Francis gazed at the horizon as it light up in a spectacular golden hue. Several bright spheres of light slowly falling down the earth, farther away from the mainland.

“What do you think that is?” She whispered.

“Not a clue.” Francis replied.

The sirens sounded in the distance, as he finally understood why they rang. Bright red flares rose from the mainland as sirens soon invaded the silence of the night. The surrounding towns and cities contaminating the night with their desperate plea for help. Flare rose from even closer settlements. The siren from their hometown shattered the remaining silence as flares rose from the town hall.

“What’s going on?” Hope held on tightly to Francis’ arm, “Is something the matter?” She looked up at Francis’ face, he had grown pale as the bright red light illuminated his face.

Large explosions were heard on the distance as a bright flash engulfed the nearby city. A bright dust cloud came rushing over the water as the sea receded. Throwing Hope into the ground, he kissed her forehead one last time as the light consumed them both.

*****

“And then what happened?” A small child’s voice whispered into her old ears, “Did they survive?”

“That is a story for another night, okay?” She replied.

“But, if the nukes fell sixty years ago, then… they must be old right now.”

A young woman walked into the room, holding a small pillow. “Honey, go to sleep. Your grandmother’s tired, she needs her medicine.”

“Okay…” The little girl muttered.

“I’ll continue tomorrow, okay?” Her grandmother reassured her. “After all, not even fire could keep this strong body down.”

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