This story is by Cecilia Baker and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Throughout his life, Malcolm Ramsey had always been on the hunt to find the universe’s most tightest embrace.
He didn’t want to just die. Life was too extravagant for it to just end in a stack of paperwork and a wooden box. Every night he prayed to a God that frowned down upon him with such disappointment his judging eyes became etched in the gray mountains near his home. Even though it took fifty years, the cosmos finally answered his pleas and showered a gift he couldn’t imagine.
Malcolm peered through his binoculars to see his destiny bounding toward him in a fiery ball of hope and rock. The inky blackness of the Colorado sky created an elegant canvas for Earth to shatter upon. From where he stood, he could see the small expanse of his hometown glittering with yellow light. The perfect color for the perfect painting.
His wife’s cries pounded through the screen door of their home, and he lowered his binoculars to rub his head. His infatuation with death had always bothered her, but he thought that her feelings were rather selfish. How could she ruin such a happy time for him?
A hot feeling bubbled in his stomach, and his throat clenched. His chance to be hand in hand with the galaxies was finally here, and he wasn’t going to let her destroy such a perfect ending.
He kicked at the wooden siding of the house before throwing open the screen door in a rage. His wife was sitting on the couch watching the live countdown on the television with gleaming eyes like the sun. There was black hair glued to her face with salty tears, and her dimples created deep craters on her milky skin.
“Would you shut it, Mary?” His voice was sharp, but her eyes didn’t shift from the television. He felt like he was talking to a black hole.
She hiccuped as Malcolm marched over to her. He gripped his hands on her cheeks and forcefully twisted her head to meet his. Her eyes darted toward him, and they crinkled at the corners. “Stop crying. This is supposed to be a happy time.”
She took a breath and exhaled deeply. He smelled whiskey as she answered solemnly, “How am I supposed to be happy when the world is about to end?”
He let go of her head to grab at his graying hair. “Do you know where you came from?” Mary opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off by a low rumble from outside. Malcolm’s heart skipped a beat. “You came from the stars! Don’t you understand? We’re being sent back to where we belong. We’ll be stardust again!” His heart swelled at the thought as Mary stared at him with a face like the moon.
He glanced at the television where a large seven blinked furiously, and he ran out to the porch. The hair on his arms and the back of his neck stood up as he winced at bright light. The air was hot and sticky, and the black sky was replaced with a flame-colored orange that he had only seen in nightmares. He waved a giddy smile toward the burning rock that flashed such an enormous amount of arrogance that Earth began to crack under its weight. What Malcolm didn’t realize was that sometimes the best things can hurt in the most atrocious way.