No Tomorrow, Part 46

3:00 pm

Her green taffeta dress was being wrinkled beneath her as she lay across her bed face down, her thoughts spinning and spinning around in her head in dizzying sequences. The world was ending in nine hours. She would be dead in nine hours. And what was she doing? She was lying face down in bed, as she had been doing for the past half hour, letting her mind get to her and make her miserable.

She knew she should be out doing something, enjoying the last hours of her life. She should be out with her family and friends, living it up, doing everything she hadn’t previously done before. Her parents had even offered to let her try beer and wine if she wanted, which she didn’t. But, for some reason, she couldn’t get herself to do anything, still couldn’t wrap the fact around her head that midnight was coming up very quickly. She still had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that she only had nine hours left to live.

Jenna couldn’t help but wonder how inmates on death row did this. How did they enjoy the last hours of their lives, knowing that at some predetermined time by some predetermined method they were going to die? She thought this was totally unfair. She hadn’t done anything to deserve the death penalty. Much of the world probably hadn’t, either, but here they were, waiting for the giant executioner to come and blow up the world.

And how sad was it that she was going to die a high school student who had never gone on a date and had never even been kissed?

“I’m pathetic,” she muttered into her mattress. “So totally pathetic.”

Her only solace was that she was supposed to be going out with Stacie and some of her friends that night. They were supposed to be meeting up in just a few hours, after she had dinner with her family for the last time. After she saw her family for the last time.

She couldn’t help it; the thought made her burst into tears, loud, wet tears that soaked through her sheets and into her mattress within seconds. She wanted her mother to come in and hold her and rock her, just as she used to do when she was a child and scared of the dark, or when a bully hurt or scared her, or when she got a bad grade, or when she hurt herself, or, really, whenever she felt fragile. Her mother was always there to hold and rock her and kiss the pain away.

“Honey, are you okay?”

It was almost as though Jenna’s thoughts had conjured her mother. At the sound of Callie’s ever gentle voice, Jenna turned her head and pushed herself up. Callie was standing in the doorway, one hand resting on the frame, now dressed more casually in white capris and a pale blue shirt. Her face was full of concern for her youngest child, her brow furrowed and her eyes solemn.

Callie stepped into her daughter’s room, making her way around the piles of clothes Jenna had lying around like a minefield, and sat beside her daughter on her bed. Just as she used to when her daughter was a little girl, she pulled Jenna into her arms and had her lay her head on her shoulder before she began to rock Jenna like she would a small child.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Callie cooed.

“We only have nine hours left to live, Mommy,” Jenna said, adopting a child-like tone, her arms wrapping tightly around her mother. “I’m never going to see you again after we all have dinner together. I’m going to miss you so much, even though we’ll all be dead.”

“Oh, honey,” Callie breathed, holding her daughter tighter. “I’m going to miss you, too. If you want, you can stay with your father and me for a little bit after.”

Jenna shook her head. “No. You and Dad have special plans for tonight. I don’t want to get in the way.”

“You’re our daughter,” Callie said, gently brushing Jenna’s hair from her forehead. “How could you get in the way?”

“I just want you and Dad to have a good time together tonight. You haven’t really had that chance since you were always raising three kids.” Jenna laughed softly, wiping at her face with the back of her hand. “And I still live at home.”

“It’s up to you, Jenna. Your father and I will be home for a little longer before we head out. You’re always welcome to spend some more time with us.”

“Maybe just a little bit,” Jenna said slowly, moving away slightly from her mother. “I could always tell Stacie to pick me up last.”

“There you go,” Callie said encouragingly, rubbing her daughter’s back. “Why don’t you do that?”

Jenna nodded before resting her head once again on her mother’s shoulder.

“Mom, I’m afraid to die,” she whispered, curling up next to her mother like a child. “Will it hurt?”

Callie kissed the top of her daughter’s head. “I don’t know, honey. I hope you won’t feel any pain. I hope none of my children feel any pain.” She paused. “I think we’re all afraid to die. There are so many young people in this world, so many children who will never get to grow up. And even people my age are afraid to die. I don’t know what’s worse: dying by our own hand or dying from being destroyed by a gigantic asteroid.”

“How big is it supposed to be, anyways?”

“It’s supposed to be big, but not quite as big as the moon.”

“Then it would kill us all, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“When is it supposed to hit?”

“Some time tomorrow. You can look out through your telescope if you want.”

“So we’d be dead tomorrow, anyways,” Jenna said morosely, drying her cheeks with her sweater.

“Mm-hmm.”

“All that’ll be left for the asteroid is a bunch of pieces.”

“Most likely.”

Tears slipped down Jenna’s cheeks again and she sniffled as her mother hummed a lullaby she hadn’t sung to any of her children since before they had started attending kindergarten.

“I’m scared, Mom,” Jenna whispered through her tears. “I’m not ready to die. I’m so scared.”

“I know, honey,” Callie whispered back, hugging her youngest child closer. “I know. This isn’t what I wanted for you, either, but we’re going to be gone by tomorrow anyways.”

Callie let her daughter cry until there were no tears in her little girl’s eyes left. She didn’t know how long she had spent with her daughter, but she didn’t care. She would never get a chance to do this again.

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