MARCH 20, 2004: SATURDAY - 6:18. Eva and her family had driven up to Axel Point, which was swarming with hundreds of people. She watched in wonder at the families whose rifts were finally healed when they discovered that the end was near and she felt an immovable respect and admiration for the humans uniting on this piece of Earth.
Strangers held strangers close together; infants comforted their mothers; priests kissed their wives more than they did their Bibles. Had humankind finally redeemed themselves from the atrocious acts they had committed their entire existence? -Eva believed they had. For not only had the criminal activity gone up, but those locked away in prison begged on their knees for forgiveness from their victims and from the families of their victims, and everyone cried.
Eva understood now. The world wasn't shedding tears because it was the end; it was doing it because a deep humanity had finally filled the souls of every living creature. They mourned only because it took them until the point of death for them to realize that love was the way they should have gone from beginning to end.
Eva watched in silence, her gaze sweeping from person to person. A smile broke through her face, the first smile she had had in the longest while.
She darted around at the sound of her name being called out by a familiar voice. Cyrus had pushed his way through the crowd and found her in a tiny niche by herself. He gathered her up in his arms and squeezed her until her heart almost exploded. He broke the embrace and kissed her several times on her face and on her mouth.
"Cyrus, are you okay?" It seemed like a silly question to ask.
"I just love you so much," he whispered to her in between kisses. "I love you, Eva."
"Well, I love you, too, Cyrus," she replied, beginning to put a little distance between them so her lungs could gain some oxygen.
They locked gazes and she saw the same fear that had once been in her own eyes mirrored into Cyrus. Cyrus afraid? I never would have thought . . .
"Life sucks," he declared. The phrase was virtually his morning mantra.
Eva touched his face tenderly, hoping to share with him the peace she finally came to terms with in her soul. "Life could not be any more beautiful than it is now," she said to him. "Look at all these people. Have you ever felt so much love from these many people all at once? It's overwhelming."
Cyrus was baffled. Only two days ago Eva had been weeping onto his chest, murmuring that she didn't want to die, and now here she was, preaching that life was at its highest point. Eva deciphered the puzzled look on Cyrus's face and she offered him her hand. He glanced at it tentatively.
"Aren't you going to come with me?" she asked with her huge brown eyes illuminated by an inner light of some kind.
Cyrus erased all worries and took her hand. They intertwined their fingers as they had done a hundred times in their lifetime together. She started to lead the way, pushing her way politely through the crowd.
He followed, but asked, "Where are we going?"
Eva looked over her shoulder and smiled charmingly at him, assuring him, "Trust me."
He decided to do as he was told. Cyrus clasped Eva's hand even tighter as they passed through the thick throng of people; he didn't want to lose her. Finally, they had reached Eva's desired destination. They were standing on Axel Point, the very tip of the cliff that overlooked the entire town, the very place where Joseph Tybalt sat when he caught the first glimpse of Axel Meteor. It was really an astonishing view and from this point, Eva could see the blazing meteor, which looked about the size of the moon, edging closer every minute to its final destination.
"What's going on, Eva?" Cyrus asked.
Eva waited a beat before she turned to answer him. "The world is going on," she said almost cheerfully. She nearly gasped when she saw an orange butterfly flutter past her line of vision, and at the same time, her eyes flew back to the meteor, which was so close now that she felt like she could reach out and touch it. The heat from its flames was beginning to sear the air around them.
"Are you feeling okay, babe?"
Her smile only widened. "Never been better, sweetie," she promised him and squeezed his hand. He squeezed back.
The mouths of people closed and their eyes opened wider than they had ever been opened before in all of history. They watched in awe as Axel Meteor slammed into the Earth underneath their feet, singing everything dead or alive. The impact was immeasurable; the pain, instant. Fire scorched the Earth, burning it black. It danced with them, tickled their ears and crawled up their legs.
The sky was sealed off by the height of the flames. Stone melted immediately. Glass broke everywhere. The swings stopped swinging and the monkey bars were incinerated. Pages of books crumbled and ink dried up. The oceans were obliterated and the world felt the force two A-bombs combined. The doors weren't closed; instead, they had been razed to the ground and humans were finally delivered from an existence that both hurt them and healed them. All sense of time was wiped out like footprints with the tide.
Yet, there was still a light that burned with an intensity that was unparalleled, even to the meteor.
Eva didn't remember ever letting go of Cyrus's hand. Just like in her dream she could feel his skin, even when she could feel no longer, just like how she could see everyone around her, even when she no longer had eyes to see with. It was right then, the moment before Eva's eyes closed forever, that she remembered today was the first day of spring.
"Peace shall follow us,
Wherever our path may lead.
What once was,
Don't let our regrets onto us bleed.
"I stand here,
With hope and love and life,
No hint, no drop of grief or fear.
Be with your family, your husband, your wife.
"Because when the sun goes down forever,
I will be with you.
Our love shall not be severed,
These words shall remain true.
"If dust and ashes and bone,
Litter the ground in our wake,
Then let our memories guide us home,
In life and death, we are safe."