“I thought you were on a diet?” the bakery clerk asked him. They hadn’t seen him for a while because of it.
“I buy biscuits.” He spoke, his crisp language almost sharper than usual. “Because eating healthy doesn’t seem to matter when the world is ending.”
They stared at him, almost forgetting to bag up the biscuits. The part of them destroyed by retail work remembered soon enough to continue the motions mechanically. “Oh? What’s wrong?”
“The world is ending.”
The man, in his suit and tie, had never appeared the type for hyperbole. Therefore, when he said the world was ending, they almost believed him.
He went to the same coffee shop every morning. He always ordered the same thing, a wet cappuccino, despite the fact that his wife told him just to get a dry latte because that was the same thing. It wasn’t, he was certain, so he never did change.
This meant when the world literally ended on the one day he failed to get his cappuccino, he couldn’t help but feel like it was his fault.
“News reports: all over the world children are refusing to grow up.”
He stared at the screen, then at his coworker as they stood on the tram. “That’s ridiculous. Why bother to report on such a thing.”
His coworker appeared to be taking it a bit more seriously. “It’s not that they are refusing. Not only. My… my niece hasn’t changed in over a year. We thought she was just slow in her physical growth, but…”
He decided to ignore this, because obviously his coworker was being crazy. He moved on to work, where the entire office was going crazy because of the news. And here he was, without his cappuccino. He felt its absence in his hands.
Well, there were worse things to happen, he tried to tell himself. But it seemed unfair that children could make this change and the rest of them couldn’t.
A dark and stormy night dimmed in comparison to what it was at that very moment.
“I can’t see.”
“Well you’re standing on my foot.”
Hastily, he shifted his foot off of theirs. “Why is it so dark?”
“When the sun’s blocked on the other side of the planet, where would the light come from?”
No moon, no stars. His mind scrambled to understand, wiping his hair blackened by soot away from his eyes with the back of his hand. “Now what?”
To give them credit, they never sounded annoyed by his questions. “Keep warm. Nothing more we can do.”
That was always the worst thing to hear. Nothing he could do. The fire gave them warmth, but it was still dark.