I was only able to grab one thing from my apartment before it’s swallowed up by a starving hole in the ground. Of course as soon as my boyfriend and I are on the brink of everything we talked about during college, the world is crashing and burning. I had dreams we would get married, have kids, and grow old together. But now, I am going to die with this dream.
All of the buildings around me are crumbling down like gray and brown confetti. This isn’t a celebration though- it’s the end of the world. The buildings smell like burning flesh, and the smoke swirling around them look like little tornadoes. All I can hear is screams, crying, and thunder. I grab my book of poems and rush out the large hole in the side of my apartment.
I began writing when I was twelve. The book is ten years old, but my name- Rose- still glimmers on the peeling black cover in its gold glitter marker like a brand new car.
I shove my journal into my shirt to keep it safe, then I run into Golden Gate Park with the others. Our world is left behind to die.
“Rose! Over here,” my boyfriend Julius yells gripping onto a branch at the top of a tree.
I quickly ran over dodging lifeless bodies, holes in the ground, and large branches. I reach my hand out to join my handsome knight in ripped up pants, a dirty tee-shirt, and a gash on his face. The ground beneath the tree with my true love on it opened up.
“Julius!” I scream as he tries to hang on for dear life.
“Rose!” He screams staring down into the black hole’s eyes.
“Just jump off, and try to land in the dirt over here!” I scream, holding my hands out to catch him.
“Rose!” He screams, as he slips, terror and sorrow fill his eyes.
“Julius!” I scream, reaching my hand out again, as he is devoured by the earth like the rest of my memories and favorite things at my apartment.
I am alone now. My soulmate, my family, my everything for the past six years is gone.
The number of survivors dwindled. People were swallowed whole, plucked from the earth by the calloused hands of thunder, or simply found ways they could willingly leave the world. My life now feels empty with Julius’s existence stolen from me, but I cannot die. I want to feel complete when I leave the earth.
There’s only thirty of us left, in just San Francisco at least. We are being led by some hippie-looking fellow with long wild hair tied up in a bun with a piece of twine with a leaf stuck to it.
“This looks like a safe place to stop. We can stop here,” our leader Angelo says, in a deep and solemn voice.
The thirty of us that were left collapsed to the ground mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
“This looks like a great place to die,” a chubby middle-aged man with a tattered toupee laughs. I don’t get how that thing managed to stay on his head with all of the chaos surrounding us.
“We are not dying,” Angelo says calmly.
The word slithered through my body giving me chills. I don’t want to think about my death any time soon. I don’t know the probability of us surviving whatever this is going on with the world, but I hope to outlive this.
“Do you see the shit that’s been happening? Shit’s falling from the sky, shit’s coming out of the ground! This is the apocalypse; we are all going to die,” the man yells.
“I hear someone,” I say nervous as I hear leaves crunching to the right of our group.
“It’s more survivors I’m sure,” Angelo says.
The mysterious wanderer pulls the branches apart and reveals himself-it is a gorilla.
The adults are frightened, yet the kids are all cooing like we are at a zoo.
I do not get how the animals seemed to survive this apocalypse. Whatever this is that is going on, it is targeting only humans. We must have really did something to upset the Earth.
“Beautiful creature, we come in peace,” Angelo smiles, bowing down to the large, hairy, animal.
The animal begins to scream and swing his arms, then six more monkeys retrieve from the dark trees. Angelo stood there shivering, silent, and small.
“We lost our homes and need a place to stay,” I chime in over Angelo’s silence.
“Y-yes, we can share land. W-we can co-exist p-peacefully,” Angelo gulps.
“You destroyed your jungle, next you’ll destroy ours,” the gorilla says in a deep and booming voice, shocking everyone with its ability to speak our language.
The gorilla speaking sent chills through my body. Have gorillas always known how to speak, or is it party of this earthly genocide? Maybe they were given special skills by nature to help kill us all. I imagine nature and all of the animals are working together to wipe out humanity, eradicate us like we are a disease to the earth.
“We have nowhere else to go,” I say hopelessly.
“This. Means. War,” the gorilla says, slamming his large fist down before disappearing into the ominous forest.
“What does this mean?” A young boy with a face full of freckles frowns.
“I think it means war, and I think it means we’re all going to die,” I say staring into the dark trees the gorilla disappeared into. I made the little boy cry. I almost cried myself, but I gulp back the burning tears stabbing at my eyeballs and stay strong.
“I’m a pacifist,” Angelo says.
“Then I’m the new leader. My name is Jupiter,” Jupiter says, raising up, placing his fists on his hips. He looks like a corny, lanky, superhero with toffee skin, short curly brown hair, and glasses.
His name is Jupiter, but his eyes remind me of Uranus; they are a beautiful hue of blue.
“I second your position as leader,” I say, fiddling with the corner of my journal.
“Fine,” Angelo pouts flopping down on a tree stump.
“So, what should we do?” I say.
“These gorillas want war; we will go to war. We must prepare,” Jupiter says balling up his fists. “we break into groups and go find things we can make weapons out of. Children stay here, and we need a few women to stay and look out for them.”
Jupiter reminds me of my boyfriend, well now deceased boyfriend, standing up there in that band tee-shirt. Julius and I used to love going to concerts. It’s actually how we met.
I had an extra ticket to see my favorite band, The Still Rocks, after my friend got sick. He ended up buying the ticket from me, and we clicked when we met to do the trade and ended up going to the show together.
That was six years ago. We had been together for six years, ever since we were freshmen in college at Columbia and went to that concert together.
Julius was a music major; I was a writing major. After college, he had found a job at a recording studio, and I had found one at a newspaper website. We were building our life together, slowly but surely. But that heinous black hole had to take him away from me.
The scene keeps playing in my head. The way his sad eyes looked at me as he was falling, the way his scratched up hand reached out in desperation for me, the way my name echoed out from the hole as he screamed for me, the way the tree snapped and ripped a huge hole in his shirt. But, I can’t dwell on the past. He is gone, and I must force myself to move on. Drowning in my emotions will get me killed.
“You with the purple hoodie,” Jupiter’s voice shouted bringing me back to the present.
“Yeah? Sorry, I was just-”
“You’re in my group,” he says cutting me off.
Everyone had paired off and went different directions in the woods to gather materials.
“Sorry. I was just-”
“It’s okay. Let’s just go,” he laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“The look on your face. You look so stunned. What were you thinking about?”
“None of your business.”
Then we pass the tree where I lost Julius. The hole is now closed up, but it looks like it got stitched up.
On the ground is a piece of his shirt, and a ring box. I can still smell the scent of his cologne mixed with the earth and wind on the piece of shirt. This was his favorite shirt, a Still Rocks shirt he found in the dorm lost and found, and now all that remains of it is a tiny rectangle with just one letter, “R”.
I begin to think about his tragic end again, and tears start to spill all over the piece of shirt.
Who knew the earth could be so vicious? Julius didn’t deserve to die that way. The ground opened up, then the tree dumped him into the mysterious world beneath the surface like a piece of trash.
I slip the last piece of Julius into my journal like a bookmark, then I open up the ring box.
It is a beautiful engagement ring in the shape of a heart. The band has the word “forever” engraved into it. He was going to propose to me. This was his one item he grabbed, how sweet!
I slip the two carat ring on my finger, and stick my hand out, and stare at the girl in the reflection of the ring with short black hair to her shoulders, sad brown eyes, plump dry lips, and mocha skin.
“What are you doing with that ring?” Jupiter shouts, storming over with his hands full of wood.
“I found it by my boyfriend’s shirt. He was going to propose,” I smile, staring at my reflection in the glimmering ring one more time.
“I bought it last week and was going to propose to my girlfriend, but this apocalypse killed her before I got the chance to do it, so I threw the ring out of anger. I didn’t expect any lunatics to take it and claim it as their own.”
“This is from my boyfriend. I swear,” I say confused.
“Take the ring off,” Jupiter demands throwing the logs on the ground.
“It’s my girlfriend’s ring!”
“So is your boyfriend!”
“We were together for six years!”
“It’s not my fault he didn’t propose!”
His words struck me like lightning, and I to cry. Julius and I were together for six years, yet he never even bothered to propose to me. Did he really love me? Was he cheating on me? Did he get tired of me? Was I not his vision for a wife?
“You know what, keep it. It’s not worth it. I don’t want to see you cry”
“It wasn’t for me. I don’t want it.”
I slip the ring off my finger and put it back in its blue velvet box.
“Your boyfriend was obviously an idiot. You are a beautiful and incredibly strong and smart girl. He didn’t deserve you.”
“Thanks,” I say, handing him the small square.
He grabs the box and turns it over and over in his large hand. He throws it as far as he can. It lands in the lake.
“Why did you do that?!”
“That’s the past. It’s time for new beginnings,” he smiles at me. “let’s get back to work now. Especially if this war is really going to happen.”
We spend the next hour looking for things we can turn into weapons, collecting food and water, and actually bonding.
“So, what are your plans if we make it out alive?” He asks me on our walk back.
“I want a fresh start with my writing. I feel like I have been writing what will sell instead of what my heart loves and believes in.”
“That’s why you grabbed your poems?”
“Yes. What did you grab?”
“The engagement ring,” Jupiter laughs
“I’m sorry about your girlfriend.”
“And I am sorry about your boyfriend.”
“I still don’t get why this is happening. Like, they predict stuff like this every few years. But, this year the apocalypse was the truth.”
“I believe everything happens for a reason. At least we survived.”
“Besides, I probably wasn’t meant to marry my girlfriend. She never supported my art career. I think I was just doing it to make my parents happy,” Jupiter leans in and whispers to me. “obviously she didn’t deserve her tragic death, but maybe the world got rid of her to give me something new and better.”
Jupiter looks down at me with those eyes you can sail in. For a second, I thought he was going to kiss me. Is he talking about me?
“So you’re an artist,” I say stabbing through the stare down, successfully changing the subject.
“Yeah, I’m a painter. I have an exhibit at the MOMA. Well, I don’t know the state of the MOMA now, but I had an exhibit there,” Jupiter smiles putting his free arm around me.
“Wow. That’s impressive.”
“Well, my dad has connections, but I guess I am also a good painter.”
“What do you usually paint?”
“People. People I see on Muni, on the streets, in shops… I usually add a weird element to it though.”
“Oh. I wish I could see it.”
“I would love to paint you sometimes. You’d be a great muse,” Jupiter whispers in my ear.
Then he leans in and kisses me.His lips are so soft, and his kisses are so strong and passionate. But I pulled away.
“I like you Rose. I don’t know what it is. I always see you around town. We go to the same coffee shop too. I never could talk to you though because of my girlfriend and your boyfriend. But, for us to end up here together, it’s fate.”
“I like you Rose. I always see you sitting in the back of the coffee shop writing, and I think you’re beautiful and talented.”
“You have horrible timing.”
“What do you mean?”
“You just lost your girlfriend, and I just tragically lost my boyfriend. I can’t do this.”
“Rose, this is meant to be. I made you my partner for a reason. I think you’re the new and better the world was trying to find for me.”
“I have to go,” I say, running away into the forest.
“Rose!” Jupiter yells, standing there alone.
“No Jupiter!” I cry. My journal slips from out of my shirt, but I don’t bother to stop and pick it up, because then he will catch me.
“Rose!” Jupiter yells picking up my journal.
I had to get away from Jupiter. I am starting to fall for him, and it will not be right to do so when I just lost Julius hours ago.
I stop to catch my breath, then I hear a snarl. A gorilla appears from behind a rock and attacks me.
He tackles me to the ground and pins me down. His black bead eyes are full of fire.
“Let me go!” I scream, squirming beneath the gorilla.
He places his hands around my neck and begins to choke me, his weight on top of me crushing me.
“Please don’t kill me,” I cry through long breaths.
Breathing is getting harder and harder and the world is becoming black. This is it. My story ends at 22.
“Get off of her!” I hear a voice say.
My hero dives and rolls in the dirt with the Gorilla until I hear a snap and a groan.
“Rose. Are you okay?” The voice says in slow motion.
I slowly begin to regain consciousness.
My eyes flutter open and Jupiter is standing over me with concern in his eyes.
“You’re my superhero,” I smile
I pull him down so his nose is touching mine. I can feel his heart beating rapidly against mine. I begin to kiss him.
“I would love to continue Rose, but we have to get back because the gorillas are coming.”
“Okay,” I say. I raise from the ground and I fall back down.
My legs are like noodles from that gorilla sitting on me trying to choke me to death.
“It’s okay. I’ll carry you,” Jupiter says swiftly picking me up and carrying me like I am his damsel in distress.
I did not expect him to be able to carry me, but he did. He can even run while carrying me.
He possesses a lot of power and strength in his lanky body.
We pass the spot where Julius fell to his death again, and I feel less remorse, but more curious about our relationship. I can also see the ring box floating in the middle of the pond.
We get back to the group and Jupiter puts me down. My legs feel stronger.
“Oh god. Please don’t tell me they took all the kids,” I say looking around our campsite.
“No. We hid them all in a nearby cottage with two supervisors,” Jupiter whispers placing his arm around my waist.
Three gorillas appear from beyond the trees.
“I think we should just leave,” Angelo says.
“No! If anyone wants to leave, leave! I’m staying and fighting!”
No one leaves, so the head gorilla starts laughing.
“Okay. You won’t leave, so you won’t live,” The gorilla says, charging towards us.
Jupiter grabs his sharpened piece of branch and shoves it into the gorilla’s chest that ran towards him. The gorilla fell to the ground and began to moisten the dry dirt with his dark red blood.
I can see his heart slowly pumping, then stopping completely. It makes me sick. I run and puke behind a tree.
As I bend over hurling my insides out, a gorilla grabs me by the waist and slams me up against a tree. I hear my ribs crunch, then I feel it.
I lay on the ground, curl up like a baby, moaning and crying in pain.
I get myself up on my knees amusing the gorilla that attacked me.
I dig my nails into the hard dirt trying to pick myself up and continue fighting. I bite my lip to stop the cries from escaping my mouth. Pain is dancing around in my body, but I have to fight.
The gorilla laughs as he watches me struggle to stand up.
Jupiter comes up behind him and plunges his weapon through his back, his blood splattering on my face.
The gorilla drops down in front of me, the sinister smirk stuck on his face.
“Are you okay?” Jupiter runs over, brushing a piece of hair behind my ear. His hands are red and full of blisters.
“I think so.” I wince as he helps me get up.
“Hang in there please. We’ve already lost half of our survivors. I can’t bear to lose anymore, especially you.”
I felt a furry, leathery, hand cover my mouth.
“Get your hands off of her,” Jupiter demands, as the head gorilla tries to drag me away.
Jupiter pulls his wooden knife out and points it at the gorilla.
“Let her go, or this knife will get launched through your fucking skull,” Jupiter shouts, startling me.
The gorilla holds up a gun to Jupiter’s forehead with his free hand. Jupiter’s eyes go up to the gun shocked.
My screams are muffled by the gorilla’s dirty gray hand.
“Where did you get a gun,” Jupiter says almost speechless, holding his hands up in the air dropping his weapon. “please don’t shoot.”
I see the gorilla’s finger inch onto the trigger and I begin to scream and squirm, but I am powerless and voiceless in the gorilla’s arms.
The gorilla pulls the trigger, and I quickly close my eyes so I don’t have to see the sight of Jupiter being shot.
I flinch when I hear the gunshot, and I hear Jupiter drop to the floor.
His death hurt me even more than Julius’s did.
Warm, angry, tears begin to race down my face into the gorilla’s hand. I scream and kick, and I feel like I am exhausting myself.
“I saved you for last, Rose,” the gorilla smiles pushing me up against the three. I can see checkered sneakers sticking out next to the tree, and my poem book is sticking out of his back pocket.
“Why me? And How do you know my name?” I cry without fighting back. What was the point of fighting back now?
The gorilla ignores my question and begins choking me. At least it’ll be less painful than being shot.
I want to just accept it, but my body fights back. I keep squirming and crying, then I completely stopped breathing.
“Rose,” a voice says hovering over me.
I raise up gasping for air. I open my eyes and I am in my apartment in my bedroom.
“Julius?” I say confused.
“Yes baby, it’s me. You had a bad dream.”
“Oh my god,” I say beginning to cry.
“It’s okay baby, I’m here,” Julius says wiping my tears away.
I can’t believe it was all a dream. I get out of bed and look around the apartment. Everything is still neatly in place. There are no cracks, hole, or damage.
Julius follows behind me, concerned, as I walk around the apartment. The dream made me realize what I want from our relationship. It also made me wonder if Jupiter really exists out there. But, I must forget it and get back to my daily routine. It was all a dream.
“What were you dreaming about?” Julius asks as we eat our omelets together in front of the television.
“It was the end of the world. We were at war with gorillas.”
“That sounds like a good movie,” He laughs, stealing a berry from off of my plate.
“It was really scary actually.”
“I’ll be working late today by the way.”
“Okay. Can I ask you something?”
“Why aren’t we engaged?”
“I don’t know. I guess I don’t believe in marriage.”
“How did I not know this about you?”
“I don’t know.”
“I believe in marriage. I want marriage.”
“What do you want me to do then?”
“Maybe you find someone who doesn’t believe in marriage, and I find someone who does.”
“Rose, are you serious?” Julius says scooting away from me on our loveseat.
“What has gotten into you?”
“You know what, fine! I am too young to be tied down anyways! I’ll be free!”
Julius is shocked, and pissed, at my lack of interest in his leaving. I think it’s best for us though. I think there’s someone better for me out there.
After breakfast I shower and change into my black and white striped shirt dress, jean jacket, and brown booties and head to the coffee shop to write. Maybe Jupiter really does go to this coffee shop like I do.
I ride the bus down to the coffee shop and get my favorite table in the back with the tie dye couch and the dim lights. After claiming my spot, I order my usual- a caramel latte and a chocolate chip muffin. On the wall above the sofa I’m on, I see a whacky portrait of the baristas, and the artist’s signature at the bottom says Jupiter. This has to be the coffee shop he attends.
As I take a sip of my latte, I see the short curly hair of my “better” before the rest of him enters the door.
Jupiter comes in, but he is with his girlfriend. She’s beautiful too. She looks like a Barbie with long blonde extensions, a pound of natural make up and pink lipstick, and a long and skinny tan figure.
He pulls out her chair for her, then goes and get their drinks. He orders his coffee black, he orders her a hazelnut cappuccino, and he orders a slice of banana cream pie.
When he gets back to the table, they dig into the pie together, and I contemplate if I should go interrupt. I’m usually non-confrontational.
I decide to do it. I walk over to the table as they get down to the last bite of pie and start to introduce myself.
“Ew! There’s something hard in this pie,” I hear his girlfriend scream holding her mouth.
The ground begins to vibrate and shake like a giant is shaking the café.
Please don’t let my dream come true. Please don’t let my dream come true…
“Earthquake!” The barista screams pushing a button. His girlfriend begins to choke as the café shakes side to side.
“Someone help! My girlfriend is choking!” Jupiter screams.
The barista runs over and begins to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.
“You guys get under the table, I got this,” the barista says bravely.
Jupiter and I squeeze under the table. The barista is still above the table with his girlfriend stopping her from choking.
“I know this is bad timing, but I’m Rose,” I smile.
“Jupiter,” he nods.
“Would you like to go out sometime?”
The heart-shaped ring skips across the floor like a rock across a pond. It startles Jupiter. He raises up quickly from the table, banging his head on the bottom of it.
“So, will you marry me?” He smiles, down on one knee in front of his distraught girlfriend, as the earthquake dies out.
“Are you serious right now?”
“Yes. Will you marry me?”
“No! You almost killed me you idiot!” She scream, dumping her coffee on his head making his curls shrivel up. “Then you couldn’t even save me!” She grabs her expensive purse and storms out of the café.
Jupiter is still down on one knee, speechless.
I crawl out from under the table and grab the ring from where it landed on the floor.
“I’m sorry,” I say handing him the ring.
“Everything happens for a reason. It wasn’t meant to be,” He shrugs, staring at the ring.
“What are you going to do now?”
“Get rid of this ring.” He smiles shaking his hair dry like a dog, slipping the ring back into the black box.
We step out of the coffee shop, and the city is still beautifully intact. My dream isn’t coming true after all. Thank god.
I follow behind his large strides through the park across the street from the coffee shop.
We stop in front of duck pond.
“Don’t throw the ring in the water! I’m sure it was expensive,” I say grabbing his arm, making him flinch.
“The place doesn’t give refunds, and I don’t want it.”
“Do something positive with it, don’t just chuck it into the water. You might hit one of the ducks or something.”
“I forgot to ask, why did you ask me on a date?” Jupiter asks curious, looking down at me.
“I always see you in the coffee shop, and I was under the impression you were taken.”
“Well, I was. But, after six years, we called it quits. I realized I need better than him.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Move out and start writing poetry again,” I say “and, I was also hoping you would accept that date with me.”
“Your boyfriend was a fool to let you go.” Jupiter whispers looking down into my eyes.
“So is that a yes or a no?”
“Rose, I have been admiring you from afar in the coffee shop for months, and if I were selfish, I would accept that date with you.”
“I want a date too, so it is not being selfish.”
“You don’t get my point Rose,” he laughs, out of frustration, grabbing my hand
I just broke off things with Julius for him, and now he is rejecting me. This hurts.
“What is your point then?” I say ready to leave. He holds my hand tightly, but softly.
“I’m saying, is a boyfriend really what you need?” He says brushing my fingers with his thumb. “It sounds like you’ve been consumed by love forever, try something new.”
“You are something new.” I whine.
“Focus on your writing and yourself. You entered society and adulthood attached at the hip to some guy. Go re-find your place and purpose in the world.”
“Here. Take this,” Jupiter whispers, placing the ring in my hand. “sell it, and use the money to find an apartment or something else that’ll help with your new start.”
“I can’t accept this.”
“Take it. Please. You told me to do something positive with it.”
“Fine,” I whisper rubbing my thumb across the soft velvet box.
“Once you’ve had a happy and healthy relationship with yourself and your passion, then come find me in the coffee shop so we can go on that date,” He smiles giving me a sweet, soft, peck on the lips.
He walks off before I can respond, so I just stand there and watch my dream walk away.
“Okay,” I whisper to myself.