I was sitting on my porch smoking a cigar when the world ended.
Not my world, but yours.
Mine began later.
I didn’t smoke often – only a small Punch or Onyx and nothing more than ten dollars – as celebration.
What was I celebrating that night? I think it was night. It is when I remember. Moonless and bright with stars. Was it a tragedy or an accomplishment? That has been lost in the fog.
Things had already been falling apart, you understand, by the end. I watched more lights wink out every night – when the fog was not blanketing the strait and town below me.
There were fewer ships, too, and then they stopped altogether. The bridge – nearby and visible if I held the rail and leaned out and stretched to look East – was noisier for a little while and then it became as quiet as everything else but my mind only seemed to grow louder.
Go, she said.
Leave me and go, she urged day and night, wake and dream.
She was not there, of course. She had been gone for years and I should have left too. So when the end did come – the finale – the really real where there ain’t no comin’ back – I took what I needed and left.
I did not just abandon things. I made the bed. Swept the floor – the electricity had been out for a week and spotty before that so the vacuum cleaner was gone the way of the dodo – and closed curtains and locked windows.
I was not coming back. I knew that, and I have never even considered it since.
But it was not right for Her if I did not leave things tidy.
~ ~ ~
As he began walking toward the edge of town, habit and social convention keeping him to the sidewalk, despite the lack of traffic or any other pedestrians, his mind turned inward.
“Well, I finally have done it,” he said allowed without realizing it. “I’m finally going to keep to my promise. You know, the one I made – is it eleven years now? – on the night before our wedding.”
His wife, who he was musing allowed to, did not answer. Several blocks behind him, the fire he had started in his home was quickly consuming her body and would soon spread to the condominium next door. It would eventually consume nearly a quarter of the town and return his wife and thirty-seven others to ash.