Spending the last day with Maegan Finn,*
who, turns out, prefers to be called Mae
I burn the popcorn. Just the pieces against the bag's underbelly.
Like a nightclub bouncer, I decide which pieces to let inside
a white, ancient bowl. One, on which, a former roommate scrawled
"THIS MACHINE KILLS MUNCHIES" upon its side in red, permanent ink.
I never said the night would be
perfect. But when I walk into my bedroom carrying the snack fiasco,
I know Ms. Maegan Finn doesn't mind. Something between her vine-framed,
honey irises and my gaze, some mischievous energy, causes her to lower
her head. She allows a smile. She's sitting on my twin-sized bed. Her back to a pillow
wall. An empty pillow beside her waits for me. With one hand she moves her hot chocolate
to the side, with the other she lifts my calico comforter for me to climb under. I never
said the night would be
perfect. But I know Ms. Maegan Finn doesn't mind. Because when I say, "I'm sorry. I didn't really plan for this," nervous laugh, "this is the worst final meal of all-time. You can leave if you want.
You don't have to go down with the ship."
She responds, "I don't mind," raises an eyebrow as she reads the bowl. Dismisses it. And grabs a handful of popcorn. On the television, a white-haired man with heavy jowls and tree bark wrinkles begins to talk.
...planet Earth will be recycled. The universe recycled.
"So, when does this guy think the world will end?" I ask.
"Chris said two."
"Two p.m.? Like today? Like already past?"
Maegan shakes her head,"Stupid *******."
"So, if I hadn't botched dinner, what would you have chosen for your last meal?"
"Well, Joshy-poo, I'd have to say popcorn and hot chocolate."
"It's salty. It's sweet. The temperatures compliment each other.
It shouldn't work, but it does. If the world wasn't ending,
I'd suggest you open a restaurant."
"C'mon. What would your last meal be?"
...with friends. Cling to your loved ones as the final minutes pass by.
The world becomes perfect. The calendar pages turn no...
"Do you remember Waffle Crisp?" she breaks gently.
"You've got to be kidding me."
"Any meal on the planet. Anything! And you choose-"
"Oh, that terrible commercial with the grannies in disguise."
"Grannies and all," staring at the reflective surface of the hot chocolate,
she begins talking in distant pieces like reading off a teleprompter,
"Waffle Crisp reminds
me of my
A commercial is on for ******. I never said the night would be
...picking the right moment is easy with...
"Why do you think of your dad?"
Maegan releases a deep exhale/tension-laugh.
"I don't know. I mean, I
guess it's because every morning -- well, before my parents got divorced --
he'd come down the stairs, mess up my hair -- God, I'd get so mad --, and
'Mae, may the world learn from your perfection today.'
He'd kiss my forehead. I'd eat Waffle Crisp. I remember the smell -- the shapes."
...less than ten minutes. Go outside with your families
look to the
"How's the world supposed to end? Has he said?" Maegan asks.
With a finger raised, I finish chewing my popcorn.
"The planets are aligning right?"
"Yeah, I've heard that. I've heard the Mayans just
ended their calendars on the
date. But I don't know how either of those scenarios make the world end, though."
"Maybe an asteroid?"
"Could be," I say.
Ms. Maegan Finn rests her head on my shoulder. "You should ask another question."
...Security Systems. Are your children safe?
"I got one," I grab the remote and turn down the television. "What is something you haven't told
anyone? One secret that otherwise would die with you."
"I hate the name Maegan."
"It's a terrible name."
"It is too. First off, not only did my parents indulge the cruelty of switching the 'a' and 'e',
then they went ahead and gave me the most common girl's name on the planet.
I don't stand out until I say, 'Excuse me, you misspelled my name.' It's not funny.
Hell, even when I say that, their usual response is, 'No, I didn't misspell your name.'
Because they'd know." Flustered, Maegan puts the white, ancient bowl of popcorn on the ground. "And get this away from me."
"What would you rather be called?"
"Mae. Just Mae. I always liked it."
"Alright, Ms. Mae."
...hoisted unto judgement. Some without absolution...
"What about you, Mr. Josh? What's your secret?"
I take a sip of hot chocolate. I look at the bare wall behind the television, and wish I had
decorated it, but I
never did. The paintings are even in my closet. They just need to be put up.
"I love you."
"I love you, Mae."
Mae smiles wide. Puts her hand on my shoulder, "Your'e joking right?"
"That's a bold secret to tell," she laughs.
"Not the reaction I was expecting."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's just -- what happens tomorrow? When I have to see you again."
"I'm betting on the exploding sun."
"Or the asteroid."
"Or the asteroid."
...a matter of seconds until we are cast like dice into the blackness of...
Mae takes my hot chocolate. Places the porcelain cups on the carpeted floor. With a "c'mere" she peels me off the pillow, off the wall. Moves the pillow to the head of the bed. She guides my body until I'm lying down. Straddling me, she leans down. Traces my shoulder blades, then softly latches on to them. She leans further.
...9, 8, 7...*
A long kiss. The weight transfers from my body into her, then is carried toward the ceiling by some mischievous energy. At the end of the world, Ms. Mae Finn kisses me. Kisses me despite popcorn. Despite hot chocolate. Despite love confessed too soon. Just when I never want that minute to end, it
But a new minute begins.
"That was perfect," Mae says.