I sat in the yard, ten hours after it happened, watching as the neighbor kids played on the streets. The oldest of the group must have been around eleven. She was the one they’d run to when there was an argument, or a scraped knee. It amazed me how quickly children could find some semblance of normality to cling to in a moment of crisis. Just the night before I had been like that; a child, but when I woke up that morning I was one of the oldest men alive.
And I felt old. I felt tired. Bitter. The once joyful sound of laughter now grated in my ears as a painful reminder of a whole life that used to be ahead of me. Of all the time I had been stripped of overnight. With it, had gone my childish ability to adapt, my carelessness, my dreams. All I had to look forward to was one lousy week.
That evening I sat in the kitchen and drank my first beer. I didn’t like it, but had another anyway, and then another. I finished an entire six-pack, then the scotch mom kept hidden for occasional dinner guests, finally the fancy wine dad had bought for their twentieth anniversary. I don’t remember much of what happened next, only the fleeting thought of taking dad’s car for a spin; like I always begged him to let me do. I had the keys in my hand when I woke up on the front porch, but couldn’t do much more than crawl back into the house and clutch my pillow. I would never drink again.
It was night again when I finally felt well enough to move. I made myself a peanut butter jelly sandwich for dinner, then went over to Dad’s nightstand; where he kept his gun. I stared at the barrel and asked myself if it was a better or worse way to go. The safety was on. I decided to go to sleep instead.
I went out in the sun again the next day. I sat in the yard, but there were no children laughing this time. I spotted the eleven year old from the other day sitting on the doorstep across the street from mine, watching the empty street. Her eyes eventually met mine and she looked at me with silent understanding; the understanding of someone who had aged decades in only a few days. I suddenly felt terrible for never caring to learn her name before.
The girl stared at me for quite a while. When I was beginning to feel a bit uneasy she stood up and walked over. She approached me slowly, as if I was a baby deer or some other small, easily started, creature. When she reached me she opened a smile, leaned forward, patted me on the shoulder and said “tag; you’re it!”
As I watched her run off, expecting me to play along, I sat there and asked myself; “Is this is a better or worse way to go?”
Written in response to entry number 10 of MrEnter’s “42 Writing Prompts” on deviantArt.
You are 17 years old. Everyone above the age of 18 has disappeared in an instant. One second they were here, the next, gone.
I didn’t exactly follow the prompt to the letter, I think, because it says ‘everyone above the age of 18‘, and I went from the principle that everyone 18 and above disappeared. And it’s a week before the char’s 18th birthday. I didn’t think of the details while writing I just went with what popped in my head without much of care for whether it made sense.
Writing for the sake of writing is something I need to do more often, despite my constant bitching about writing useless scenes all the time. 😛