Confessions and Meteors

By Tracy Schrader


        So this is it. My hands shook as I watched the meteor on the TV screen hurtling toward Earth. A clip of the president had interrupted my movie night with my best friends, saying that a meteor was directed at Earth and approaching swiftly. It seemed unreal that Earth could be wiped out by a stray space rock, but that was exactly what was happening. Clea’s hazel eyes were glued to the image, her handful of popcorn frozen halfway to her mouth. Weston was gripping the remote so hard, his fingers were turning blue. Time seemed to stop for a moment as my life flashed before my eyes. How did I get here? 

        “Why isn’t anything moving?” Clea asked. I looked back over at her. She held eye contact for a moment before looking at the frozen screen. Weston didn’t move, seemingly unaware of the conversation happening around him. “Can you hear me?” she insisted.

        “Yeah,” I said. My limbs refused to move and put a comforting arm around my friend.

        “We must be in a time pause,” Clea said. “Like in books, the moment before something vitally important happens. It’s usually a time for the main character to gather their thoughts.”

        “Except…we’re in it together.” 

        “Huh.” The tense silence hung in the air for a moment. 

        “Drew, I wanted to tell you something,” Clea said. 

        “Yeah?” I asked. 

        “I know you think I do, but in all honesty…I don’t want to be anything more than best friends.”  

        “Yeah.” I forced a comforting smile. “So do I.” The last few weeks had been a blur of emotion around Clea. Whenever my whole life was turning upside down and backwards, Clea’s smile got me through. 

        “That being said, I’m glad we got to spend our last moments together.” With some effort, Clea reached out and stroked my short hair. “You were a great friend to me.” 

        I nodded, too overwhelmed to say a word. “You kissed me,” I blurted. “A few weeks ago. At the roller skating rink.” 

        Clea took her hand off my head and looked down. “Sorry.”

        I waited for more before realizing that was all she was going to say. “Why?” 

        “Why am I sorry?”

        “No, why did you kiss me?” 

        “It was on a dare. You know how it is.” 

        I remembered that night so vividly, the lights and the music, the way Clea purposefully walked toward me, the short conversation, the smile she wore as she leaned toward me. I didn’t remember her talking to anyone else beforehand. 

        “Why is everything still frozen?” Clea tapped Weston’s arm. “What’s going on? We finished having our meaningful conversation, now can we just die in peace? The suspense is killing me.”

        I laughed and trailed off into silence. Why would Clea want to get out of the time pause? I thought. We’re probably about to die once we leave this moment. Ever since we were little, Clea never wanted to stay in one spot, always moving. I’d always thought the worst kind of torture for Clea would be being confined to one activity.  

        “So we’re just stuck in this moment for all time?” Clea repeated her point. “This doesn’t seem right.” She tapped Weston again, more forcefully. 

        Somehow, my limbs had come unstuck.I picked up the TV remote and tried to change the channel, but the buttons refused to press. I tried to stand up, but I felt glued to the couch. 

        “Drew!” Clea said, a bit snappishly. She looked at the front door longingly. I knew she should be home by now to babysit her little brother.  Of course, that couldn’t happen if the whole world was bashed like a coconut by the meteor now suspended on the glowing TV screen. Why couldn’t Clea see that?

        “What is it?” I sighed. 

        “Is there anything on your mind?” 

        You, I thought. “Why are you asking this?” In the blink of an eye, my mind swirled: impending doom, Clea’s frustrating restlessness, neon lights at the roller rink . . . a kiss.

        “Maybe we have to confess everything to each other to get out of this time freeze, like we’re in a book or something.” Clea’s hands anxiously tapped her legs. “So ’fess up.” 

        “Oh, Clea,” I said. “We’re not characters in one of your romance novels–” I realized that was the wrong thing to say a moment too late. Clea raised an eyebrow. 

        “What are you hiding?” 

        “Stop being so dramatic!” I said. “Leave me alone!” 

        Clea turned away from me, shaking Weston’s shoulder. I took a deep breath. 

        “I guess I can tell you that I’m not sure.” 

        “About what?” She kept her face turned away from me. 

        “If I like you as a friend or something more.” 

        “You don’t know?” 

        “I don’t know. I mean, I respect your not liking me as a love interest, but it’s a little complicated – not bad complicated! But not good complicated -” 

        A small hand settled on my shoulder. “I get it.” Clea’s face was earnest.

        We sat in silence, listening to the sound of the clock pointedly not ticking.  

        “Now can we escape this?” Clea asked. 

        I sighed. “I guess not.” 

        “Is there anything else?” Clea asked hopefully. 

        “No. What else do you want me to confess?” I grumbled, sinking back onto the couch. As I stared, I noticed that the clock’s hands were starting to move again. “Clea, look!” 

        “Yes!” she said as the TV sound tuned back in and everything started to move. 

        “No!” Weston said. I remembered why we were terrified and locked my eyes onto the screen, where the asteroid was speeding closer. Clea’s hand inched closer to mine and I grabbed it, grateful for at least that point of connection. 

        The world was going to end. 

        Slowly, the view on the screen panned out to show the back of a couch with a teenage couple sitting on it watching the meteor on their own television.

        “What in the world?” Clea said, pulling her hand away from mine and picking up the remote. I watched the screen intently as the couple was buried underneath a caving roof as the asteroid hit.  

        Clea pressed a button and the channel changed. 

        “Umm…” Weston pointed at my TV. “I don’t understand what just happened.” 

        “I think we accidentally changed the channel,” Clea laughed, clearly relieved. She hit the button again and it switched back to the buried couch, which was followed by a black screen with white letters saying, The Apocalypse Movie…To Be Continued

        “That’s an awful name for an apocalypse movie,” Weston said. Clea clicked the channel back to our show. 

        “Oh my gosh,” I said in a gasp. “I thought that was real!” 

        “It looked real,” Clea said. “For a movie with a budget name, they sure made it realistic.” 

        “Yeah,” Weston echoed. “Realistic. The president and everything!” 

        “It was probably just a look-alike,” Clea said. “You know how Hollywood is.” 

        “That could’ve given someone a heart attack,” I said. 

        Clea put an arm around me. 

        “Well, at least it’s over,” she said. 

        “You’re shaking,” I said. 

        “Yeah,” Clea said. “I thought the world was going to end.”

        “When really we accidently changed the channel.” Weston giggled. “I can’t believe we didn’t notice that.” 

        Clea laughed too, and I had to admit it was funny. 

        “We’ve been bamboozled,” I said with a smile. 

        “Yeah,” Clea chuckled, slowly removing her arm from my shoulder, “by ‘The Apocalypse Movie’ of all things!”

        We were all laughing and grinning like fools at this point. Being scared half to death before it all turns out to be a cringy joke made us a bit drunk on the irony of it all. Just as our laughter trailed off, a honk sounded from the driveway and headlights shone through the window. 

        “That’ll be my mom,” Clea said. She leapt up, extending her hand to pull me off the couch too.

        “Bye, Clea,” Weston said, nodding to her as a goodbye. 

        “Bye, Weston,” Clea said cheerfully. I walked her out to the front porch. Clea’s mom gestured frantically, running a hand through her rumpled blond hair and checking her watch. She didn’t even know that, for one heart-stopping moment –

        Our world was ending.