The Things That Last

By Bart Meehan

sfgenreThey watch the clock ticking on the wall.

32 seconds

She asks: Do you think time will exist afterwards?

Profound, he says smiling. Why wouldn’t it?

She shrugs. Tree falls in a forest sort of thing, she says.

23 seconds

I’m glad we didn’t have any children. It would be too hard.

He doesn’t say anything.

18 seconds

He looks around the room.

I don’t know why you vacuumed.

You know I can’t stand mess.

What does it matter now? Who’s going to see it?

Me.

He’s quiet for a moment, then says: I guess it was something to do. Maybe I should have mowed the lawn.

14 seconds

She asks: Have you ever wondered why now?

He shrugs.

It had to happen sometime. Everything that has a start, has an end.

11 seconds

Are you hungry?

He shakes his head. Anyway, it’s a little late, he says. It’d all be over before you got to the kitchen.

She looks at the clock.

I should have made something before, she says. Something fancy. Isn’t that what you’re suppose to do? Have all your favourites?

There wouldn’t have been time to wash up. Would have left a terrible mess.

He smiles but she doesn’t like the joke.

8 seconds

I’ve been thinking about all the things we didn’t do, she says.

Think about the things we did instead.

She nods: I suppose that’s better. She pauses for one tick, two ticks, then says: Funny it’s so quiet.

What did you expect?

I don’t know. Some kind of noise. There isn’t even anyone in the street.

Sometimes things end with a whimper.

Now who’s being profound?

Poetic.

A bit late for that, I think. She smiles for the first time in a long time.

5 seconds

Maybe we should pray, she says, her head tilted down and looking at her hands folded in her lap.

He laughs.

Why?

She blushes and snaps defensively: Someone might be listening.

If they are, they’ll wonder where we’ve been. It’ll be like long lost relatives turning up after a lottery win.

3 seconds

I suppose we should say goodbye.

Her voice cracks for the first time.

He reaches across and squeezes her hand.

It’s trembling.

He says: You know how I feel, don’t you?

She nods.

I’m thinking I should have said it more often. I just wasn’t that sort of man.

The strong, silent type, she says, smiling again. Then the smile fades and she asks: Do you think anything will survive?

He looks at her, realising it’s the last time. Then he touches her face and starts to say something remembered from Sunday lessons when he was a boy: three things will last forever...

The clock stops.

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About The Author

Bart Meehan

Bart Meehan lives in Canberra, ACT. He has published several stories in magazines and e-zines, including AurealisMattoid and Alien Skin.

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There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.

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