Surviving the Apocalypse didn’t mean they couldn’t enjoy a little romance.
Justine found a stack of old newspapers and used a few pages as a tablecloth, saving the rest for kindling. She wiped the dust and grime off the two mop buckets they used for chairs. In a coke can with a thimbleful of water, she placed a dandelion she pulled from a crack in the sidewalk and set it on the table.
Emma scrounged together a bag of potato chips, a can of kidney beans, three Slim Jims, and one perfect fig from the tree on Ogden that miraculously continued to grow despite the drought and incessant fires. They planned to open a vintage bottle of wine they’d been saving for the occasion, a 2017 Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon.
“I propose a toast,” said Justine, holding up her Dixie cup of wine, “To us and our love. To four years together against all odds. Happy anniversary.”
They imagined a clinking sound as they clanked their paper cups. They took quick sips and refilled only when they wanted another to keep their cups from disintegrating. They kissed over the overturned milk crate they used for a table. They reminisced about meeting by the Santa Monica pier, where Emma had been roasting a seagull over a fire pit when Justine came running down the beach, having just narrowly escaped the Sea Org. It was love at first sight.
After dinner, they lay side by side on the lawn of Wattles mansion, looking out for stars shining through the clouds of ash. They made love on a tattered blanket on the charred earth and fell asleep to the sound of sirens blasting and rockets launching in the distance.