Make a Wish

A Fiction Short Story

     They left years ago. All of them. Every single person on Earth had left me behind. I couldn’t blame them either. It wasn’t their fault I slept through every blaring alarm and evacuation. 

     Sometimes, when I wake up, I half expect to hear my neighbor mowing the lawn. Never knew I could miss something so annoying. I wonder which ship he made it on. Hopefully it wasn’t too crowded. 

     It was those ships. Those ships that gave us hope, gave us an escape. We were told it could happen any day, and to always have the essentials packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

     I didn’t expect the alarms to go off after 1 year, 4 months, and 18 days. No one did. No one was truly ready. Of course, everyone knew that the world would soon become uninhabitable, but it was a reality we had ignored in our day to day lives. I wish I had heard those blaring alarms, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. Maybe I didn’t want to go. I slept until the ships took off and the thundering of their rockets incinerated towns and cities. I woke up to fire and smoke. 

     And today, years later, I wake up and the sky is still orange. A perpetual sunrise. I put on my nicest dress (the one I had worn to my friend’s wedding just two weeks before they left) and styled my hair. I wanted to look nice. 

     Many people had left their pets behind and I had spent the first few months of my unintentional exile freeing dogs and cats from their houses or leashes. I hoped that if they were no longer confined to their houses, they could survive on their own. I had taken in the abandoned pups and kittens. As many as I could handle. I had claimed some mansion outside of my town to house them all. Luxury in the apocalypse, small mercies. 

     I made my way into the kitchen and pulled out the small cake I had baked the night before. I tried to make it taste like my mom’s, but she had taken her recipe with her and I didn’t remember all her little tricks. 

     Tripping as dogs chased each other around, barking and panting and having fun, I set the cake down. They had grown up in a world where they were only one man’s best friend. They had never known any other way of life. Sometimes I get jealous of that, but not often. 

     It took me awhile to find a working lighter and candles, but it was worth it. They were important. I pushed 19 candles in the cake, and one extra, for good luck. One of the adolescent cats watched me light them, curiously watching the small flames. 

     I’m not sure how long I stared at the candles, but when I looked outside, the sky had become dark. 

     Maybe I should have wished to see the stars. We hadn’t been able to see them for decades, but I read about them. They were supposed to be the most beautiful thing, but it was just another thing we ruined. 

     I wished for something else though. I wished for the one thing I didn’t have. I wished for company. I didn’t need to be back with the rest of humans, most of them weren’t good to be around anyway. I never liked being around tons of people. But now, I just wanted someone. Just one person. Not even someone I used to know. A stranger would do just fine. 

     I blew out my candles and threw them away. After that, I wasn’t that hungry and I let the dogs have it. I took my borrowed (without intention of return) car out to Montgomery Hill which overlooked a half burned town. 

     I sat there for the longest time, just feeling the wind in my hair. Wind was underappreciated before. In the pitch black, the town was nearly impossible to make out. Occasionally there were billboards still illuminated or street lights still on, but they dimmed as time went on. A fading memory of life before. 

     I got up and turned back to my car, tired and ready for the day to be over. I almost missed the two small square lights moving through the town below.