Right Before the Falling of the Bombs
Jan and Marcus decided that because it was already announced the bombs were
going to fall, and because there was nothing anyone could do about it, they would play cards. They played Rummy at the dining room table, first two out of three, and then three out of five. Jan won both.
“Do you want to play again?” Marcus said.
They only had fifteen minutes until the bombs were going to fall. Jan shook her head.
“I can’t,” she said.
“Do you want to sit outside?”
“Can we go to bed?” she said.
They went to bed. They lay, fully clothed, beside each other. Marcus put his hand
on Jan’s stomach.
“Don’t cry, Jan,” he said. “We’re all together.”
“I just wish it wasn’t going to be like this.”
“You know what? I can’t think of a better way for it to be.”
They talked for a few minutes about the future they wanted to have, the future they’d planned on before everything went wrong in rooms they’d never been inside, between people they’d never know.
“I love you,” Marcus said.
“I love you,” said Jan.
In the final seconds Marcus and Jan held each other. Then they closed their eyes. Then bombs fell and the world went white, setting all that they’d ever loved aflame, overtaken by ravages of fire.
She splits the food between two plates: two slices of meat loaf, two spoons of mashed potatoes, two heaps of peas. She puts the plates on the table with two sets of silverware.
It’s five past eleven. He’ll be tired and scared. She wants to be tender, lay her head on his chest, feel his arm around her shoulder. She wants to care for him, make sure he eats, but if he’s angry he won’t let her. She’ll have nothing to do with all her tenderness or her care.
She sits at the table. She hasn’t eaten all day. She’s been too anxious to eat. Now it’s almost over she’s starved. She eats a bite of mashed potatoes then puts the fork down. She places her hands in her lap. She watches the door. She wants to eat with him when he comes home. The meal will be a surprise.
He said he’d wear a plain black hoodie. He said he’d have the gun (a black handgun she only glanced at when he showed it to her) in the clerk’s face, and he’d be cool – collected – when he demanded the money.
After he had the money, he said, he’d stash the car at a friend’s house – someone she doesn’t know. He’d head home. He’d ditch the sweatshirt and the gun along the way. He’d walk, not run. He said three hundred dollars at least. He said he’d be home by eleven.
It’s ten past eleven. Steam rises off his plate. She realizes her leg is shaking. When her leg shakes it rattles the table. Once he slammed his hand on the table at a restaurant to make her stop. The people at the next booth quit talking to look at them.
She stands and pours two glasses of water. The water is so clean she wants to drink it right away.
She watches the door. Her hands are clasped so tight they begin to sting. It’s twelve minutes past eleven. The door knob will turn soon. His dark-haired head will appear. He’ll smile, relieved to see her, if he’s not angry, or scared. He’ll come to her and be safe.
“Eleven” was previously published in Ginger Piglet, January 2015.
Sam Anderson-Ramos has published work in The Austin Chronicle, where he is a regular contributor, The Chicago Tribune Printers Row Journal, Hobart, Pindeldyboz and others. His essay, “On Leaving Dove Springs,” was listed as a notable in Best American Essays 2015. He has been a Lecturer in art and writing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is currently a Lecturer in writing at St Edward’s University in Austin.