A woman is rushing to her parents house as her world ends around all around her.
She ran from her house as fast as her high heels could take her. She thought about the tooth fairy, and the Keds she grabbed on her way out. There was no time to put the more sensible shoes on. Not yet. "They’re fighting back," she thought, sprinting from Olive Street onto Main. "They’re fighting back." An alarm started to whir; a hollow sound that switched to that of a robotic voice telling anyone listening to find shelter. They had 13 minutes. The President was supposed to speak at any moment, but time was running out. Her feet started to hurt, a pain stabbing into her heel, up to her calves with every step she took, slowing her progress. She was running in a nightmare. Her parent’s house was three blocks away, but she didn’t feel like she was getting any closer no matter how fast she tried to run.
“Only a few more blocks,” she sputtered, sweat breaking out under her cap. “Only. A. Few…” Every breath was a labor to her. A man in an expensive suit sailed passed her mumbling about a new world war. He ran away in no particular direction when she finally stopped and grabbed her chest. The sun was out, but her body felt like ice.
The thrumming waves of the alarm snaked into her head, emptying her out. She was paralyzed, and could only see Mr. Weatherly standing in front of his corner store, staring at the clear, blue sky. He was wearing a white apron and tightly gripped a broom, the handle close to his chest. She went to him.
“Boy died in the Pacific, you know,” he said. She nodded, he didn’t look at her. “Wife went a few months after. Broken heart.” A smile started on his face and his eyes glassed over. “I miss them so damn much.”
She crossed the street to get away. Her body shook so much that she twisted her ankle, landing on the hot pavement with a thud that rattled her. She stayed in the middle of the road and changed her painful shoes. She then unpinned her white cap with the cross on it, and pitched the whole lot to the gutter.
Eleven year old Delilah Peterson rushed from her front yard to help her up. “You okay Miss?” She asked while getting the woman to her feet and to the sidewalk. When they made it, a flashy car came crashing down the pavement where the woman was just sitting, swerving all the while.
A teenage couple were screaming and laughing with the windows down. “It’s the end of the world!” The boyfriend yelled with a bottle in one hand, the wheel in the other. His pony-tailed girlfriend whooped it up, a cigarette dangling from her pink lips.
The woman thanked Delilah, and started to walk a little faster. Her vision began to blur, but she couldn’t stop. She thought about a lost tooth when she saw a little boy holding a red, white, and blue shield dancing in his minuscule front yard. His mother was trying to get him inside, but he was adamant: “Don’t worry, Mommy! The heroes will save us. They always do!”
She was jogging again, and the house was nearly a block away. She was running out of time. The tears finally left her eyes, and she could see the sidewalk in front of her. She was so close. She ran faster.
A young wife with a growing belly cried in her husband’s arms on the steps leading up to their porch. She ran past them.
A congregation prayed in the road next to abandoned cars with gaping doors. They all held hands as a car radio wailed out a hymn to anyone who could hear. Every one of them sang along. Her heart was beating out of her chest.
Through an open window she heard the voice of their commander and chief telling the nation that the war was no longer cold. She raced to the end of the block and made it to the house.
She tried to open the door and knocked, but no one answered.
She fumbled for the key in her white apron, and went in.
She called their names and rushed to the living room.
They weren’t there. She went upstairs.
She went through every room.
And up to the attic. They weren’t there.
She ran to the basement. Her last resort.
They were huddled around a radio.
Their eyes were closed.
Except for his.
He looked up and smiled.
His two front teeth were missing.
He got up to greet her.
“Mommy!” She fell to her knees and held him to her chest.
“The war is no longer…” President Eisenhower was cut off as the atom bomb fell to their town, landing on Mr. Weatherly’s store where he waited for his son.
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