If the World Ends

If the World Ends
By Jennifer Todhunter
Adam is my person if the world ends and I am his. We decide this around the campfire, our respective families fast asleep. My husband is better with the twins, so he is the one in the tent, the one who tucked them into their tiny sleeping bags. He is the one they’ll call out for, anyway.

Adam and I drink cinnamon whiskey, watch the Perseid shower slouched in our beach chairs, ask what if that was an asteroid, what if that was a missile, what if, what if, what if.

“You’re a strong swimmer,” Adam says after a quiet moment. “You swam all the way to the island today.”

It felt like I could swim forever, cutting through the ocean. From underneath the surface, the sky was a distorted blue band. What if it came crashing down, I thought. What if it fell like a blanket and smothered us all. There’d be no more fighting to feed the babies, no more displaying my inadequate breasts, no more choking on the anger lodged in my chest.

What if it came crashing down, I thought. What if it fell like a blanket and smothered us all.

“What if the world floods?” Adam asks, taking another shot of whiskey. “Could you save us?”

“I don’t know,” I say, wondering how far I could swim. If it would be far enough to get away from my misery. So much effort went into conceiving the twins, so much planning into their arrival. I can’t even look at them now.

The fire dances, the embers snap and pop. I imagine a crush of water engulfing our campground, the hiss when the flames extinguish, the ashy smell of smoke. I think about my husband, our baby girl and boy. How quiet life would be. How still.

“What if I can’t get over them?” I ask. “What if I can’t move on?”

Adam sticks his hand on my thigh. It’s not somewhere his hand should be, but I welcome it. My husband hasn’t touched me in months. He hasn’t kissed me or run his mouth over my hips like he used to. His lips have been a thin slit for so long, I can’t remember the last time he said something to me, let alone something nice.

“I would help you,” Adam says. “I’m your person, so I would help you.”

His hand is cool through my jeans, cool on my face when I kneel in front of him, when I pull down his fly. What I need is a person right now.

Adam doesn’t say anything more to me, just looks at the sky, and I wonder what if he saw a plane plummeting down, what if he saw it plunge into the ocean. What would the silence sound like after the crash.

The whiskey burns my throat. I think about it running into my breasts, merging with the milk that sits thick and stagnant. I imagine the end; how dark it would look, how cold it would feel. I imagine grieving everyone except for Adam, who would be there beside me, devastated, too. We would have this moment around the campfire, we would have a few shooting stars, but I’m not convinced it would be enough to get us through. I imagine an asteroid, a missile, a flood, and I think what if, what if, what if. What if I hang on for one more day.

Photo credit: Trevor Bexon

About the author

Jennifer Todhunter

Jennifer Todhunter's stories have appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Necessary Fiction, CHEAP POP, and elsewhere. She is the managing editor of Pidgeonholes. Find her at www.foxbane.ca or @JenTod_.