by n dru
Two lovers enjoy a sunset, but hell is coming.
|The 8th of June
It was the 8th of June: three days after the bombs rained down on Moscow. Eddie Dorchester had lain awake in his bed for the past ten minutes - watching his wife sleep silently. Her soft red lips parted slightly, her chest rising and falling in a steady relaxing beat, her dark brown hair catching the sunlight coming in from the room’s only window. ‘Best not to wake her, let her dream of a simpler time.’ Eddie thought to himself, he wished he could climb back into bed and join her…but today was the 8th of June, Dianne’s birthday. Apocalypse or no apocalypse, he would make darn sure his wife’s special day would not be outshone by this tragedy. So at last, somewhat reluctantly, he made his way out of the room and closed the door softly behind him, then headed down the sunlit staircase and into the kitchen.
Fifteen minutes later it was ready. Bacon piled high on a plate was placed on the serving-tray, alongside the burnt toast and orange juice. Eddie took a quick look at his watch: 10:15am - still plenty of time. Picking up the tray, he headed back upstairs to his sleeping wife. He wondered whether he should wake her or let her sleep. ‘Let her sleep’ his heart had told him…but 'Bollocks to that’ his head had replied. Eddie hurled a pillow in her direction, hitting her flat in the face - sleeping-angel image completely destroyed, serenity removed, moment lost - Dianne awoke with a shock, snarling and throwing the pillow back in his direction. He laughed and shook her gently, nodding toward the serving-tray at the end of the bed. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and a smile of realisation took over her face that he had made her breakfast. Bacon on toast, cooked to within an inch of becoming charcoal, her favourite.
She hugged him tight and kissed his forehead, he smiled and gestured for her to eat-up. ‘What? You thought I’d have forgotten your special day?’ She grabbed his hand and smiled, staring into his loving eyes. ‘Happy birthday, baby’. As he sat and watched her eat, a tear formed in his concealed left eye. She had not spoken a single word since Red, their daughter, had died two summers ago. She blamed herself, which of course was absurd as it was the drunk driver in the black Mitsubishi’s fault, not hers. The bastard.
Eddie and Dianne left their home for the last time at mid-day, June 8th. They never bothered to lock the door, they had seen the newspapers scattered along the floor headlined: ‘The end is nigh! Russia launches nuclear weapons on course for the USA!’ So why bother? The pair had each other, nothing else mattered. They crossed the empty suburban streets and entered the park, where it was quieter now, a lot quieter. The hustle and bustle of the large crowd of people trying to escape into Mexico could not be heard from deep within the deserted park, and the lovers walked idly for a while, until Dianne sat near an old oak tree on top of the hill overlooking the lake. ‘Ok then birthday-girl, I guess we‘re setting down here then? It’s not as appealing as that country pub where we spent most of last winter, but it’ll do, I suppose.’ Eddie winked at her, she smiled back.
They sat silently under the shade of the oak tree, enjoying each other’s company and every now and then throwing a few slices of bread into the lake for the five-or-so ducks to enjoy. The sky grew darker and the air cooled, the sun was now setting, and only an orange cone of light reflected off of some distant cloud remained on the lake. The ducks had left the water now, nowhere to be seen. Eddie glanced at his watch - 8:57pm, ‘Three more minutes’.
Dianne stood, and pointed upwards. The night sky was littered with smoke-streams and burning objects which created the illusion of a natural meteor shower. But they weren’t meteors, and this wasn’t nature - they were missiles; sent by men to destroy this idyllic scene. Eddie shook his head and stood, holding the woman who had been the love of his life since he had first set eyes on her when he was 17. He continued shaking his head and cringed; ‘Fools. Those stupid, stupid fools. They think that this is the answer? A handful of people in a handful of nations deciding the fate of billions of lives? That is not what we're on this Earth to do.’ He held her tight, and through tear-filled eyes he managed to thank her for making his life worth living, and for standing by him for the 30 years they had been together.
Dianne shook her head, and brushed away the tears in her lover’s eyes. ‘None of that now, baby. You’re supposed to be brave! Why do I always have to be the strong knight and you the wet-eyed maiden?’ She smiled at him. Eddie was so shocked at hearing her speak, he had almost forgotten what it was like to feel the warmth which blanketed him from her voice. For a moment, Eddie thought he had imagined it. Until she spoke again; ‘We'll be with her soon.’ Eddie kissed her lips, and through that kiss he re-lived all the previous kisses he had shared with her, from teenagers to parents, he remembered them all. She kissed his lips in return, but hell had arrived.