It’s utterly beautiful, and it’s all about to end.
She’s used to it.
Today it seems particularly remarkable, though – just something in the air. The bells are chiming especially sweet. The laughter of the two children with their mother is bright; when their teacup breaks, they don’t cry as much as normal, but instead laugh it off a little more. The young couple in the park is extra romantic; the street musician extra cheerful. The sky is a warm shade of blue, the few clouds underscored with lines of faint, buttery gold. It’s a light summer chill that reassures.
Today, she sits on the park ground, head on her folded arms. The dew has stuck to her from waiting. A cobweb on the raspberry bush is carefully constructed, and today of all the days it seems more crafty.
It’s a town, specifically, but around here it’s nearly a city – a bundle of close-knit houses, a few big storefronts and the boxy apartment towers, all centered around the antiquated town hall and the green, modern park, which always draws crowds on brilliant Saturdays.
The bicycle-cart comes, and the proprietor – a person with short-cropped hair and a bright smile – eagerly passes out frozen treats to the nearby crowd. Several of the children eat for free, and several of the adults tip generously. They stay, and chatter with the rest of the growing gathering.
A few little stands are being set – other carts, little wood boxes, colorful blankets spread across the still-damp grass (it may be nearing midday, but the shade on the tall oaks has spared a few unruly patches from being warmed by the sun). Jewelry carefully crafted, eating-ware, little bags and accessories, a few full-length outfits, foods of many kinds. The smell wafts across the park, and the street musician stands on a bench and begins to serenade. Her hat is crooked and her high-waisted pants striped; she’s joyous.
She is dead.
All the children, blowing bubbles and racing around scream-laughing? The market-keepers, with their endless belongings and delicately-made creations? The couple ready to propose, the mother of two with a third on the way, the young man who stops by the garden in two minutes and asks if she’s okay, sitting forlornly as she is? Dead, dead, dead.
Some days it’s enough to make her shake and sob, others to rush and embrace and beg for forgiveness. Twice she’s tried to take the train, the moment she awakens when the sun rises – doesn’t go to the park, doesn’t sit and wait, runs. She stole the mayor’s pretty car six times, caught by the confused woman twice but never stopped. She drove as fast as possible. It didn’t matter. At exactly 11:06 am, every Saturday, the world makes a noise like rushes in the wind, and everything gets empty.
And then she wakes up.
It’s not a prophecy. If it was some fated event, she would have a way to stop it. She doesn’t even know what does it, let alone who or why.
That’s why she sits here, and has for the past few Saturdays.
“Are you alright?” asks the young man, bending down slightly to notice her.
You’re going to die. I will never save you. We’re all going to die, over and over.
“I’m fine,” she says, and smiles so he believes it. He starts to walk away, lips parting and looking back to call after her, when the rushing starts and everything vaporizes again.