The Last Date on Earth
fiction by Kyra Kondis
The Last Date on Earth
Because the world is ending, I decide to go out with the guy I ghosted on Tinder last week. Jacob, 24, from Arlington. When he messaged me, he said, “if I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together.”
At first I’m worried that he’s not going to answer my text—that he’s got better things to do—but then he does. “Sure,” he says, with this little winky face. “I know just the place.”
I wear my periwinkle silk dress that’s dry-clean only, because now is not the time to be practical. He picks me up at six and takes me to Nando’s, yes, Nando’s, in an ice-pink punch buggy that he says is his mother’s. I do not ask him why Nando’s, or where his mother is, or why she doesn’t need the car herself, in case these are sensitive subjects. Now is not the time for that either.
But of course, Nando’s is closed for the end of the world, so instead we go to the Target next door and bash in the windows and climb through them, marveling at how we’re the only ones who’ve thought to do this. As we sift through the snacks across from the dollar aisle, I think about how good hot fudge sundae Pop Tarts are, and how strange it is that we’re alone here, and how Jacob looked slightly better in his Tinder photos than he does in real life. Jacob eats Doritos and wipes cheese dust on his khakis even though it’ll stain. We try on jackets and squirt shampoo out of bottles and break CDs in half, tossing them at our feet until the plasticky floor glints up at us like a flattened disco ball. We rip open next year’s calendars and laugh at how wrong they were. We run to the furniture section in hats and sunglasses and socks that we didn’t pay for, and we lie on the stiff display futon, gazing up at the fluorescent lights tiled across the ceiling.
The thought creeps into my mind that, of all the places I could be, I’m at the Merrifield Target with Jacob, 24, of Arlington, but I push it away and scrunch myself into a ball with Jacob’s arm on my upper back.
“Do you want to have sex?” he asks, moving his hand down lower.
I shake my head no. I’m busy. I’m being in my body for the last time.
“Why did you want to go out, then?”
“For the company,” I tell him. “Everybody says you shouldn’t spend the end of the world alone.”
Jacob accepts this, and moves his hand back up. This impresses me, but if tomorrow existed, I probably wouldn’t go on another date with him.
Thirty minutes out, the futon begins to feel cramped, and I realize that I wish I had spent the end of the world alone. I want to sprawl out on the furniture myself, in my light, airy, periwinkle dress, without any cheese-dust residue streaked across me from Jacob’s fingers. I want to go to Six Flags and run all the roller coasters and ride them without waiting in line. I want to take a boat out of the harbor and steer it up the coast and eat my Pop Tarts on top of the Statue of Liberty. I want to go back in time so I could have wanted this earlier.
But I lie here with Jacob, listening to the buzzing of the Target lights and the wind screaming outside the windows we broke. I think of all the things that will continue without us. I think of the way I have never been able to feel earth spin beneath my feet. And I try not to worry, because now is not the time to worry.