Snow is piling up on the outside of the window, sooty, leaving smears. Eight stories below, in the street, a shimmering fairy-tale tinkling sounds every couple minutes. It is audible only if there is a break in the screaming, crying, and car horns. The tinkling of shop windows, bits of them, on pavement. The sidewalks are probably completely covered in glass shards
The riots began all over the city, wonderfully synchronized, as soon as the evening news was over and the shock had fallen away. In pockets, violence blossomed across different neighbourhoods, and like tumours they spread and swelled before rushing together in the downtown core. The city wept, its intricate subway system writhing like a bundle of worms, its picturesque avenues and alleys collapsing inward like crushed lungs. Faced with their own mortality, people forgo their humanity and become hyenas.
You and I seek refuge here in your apartment. You look at me, your long dark hair stuck to your face with sweat, and you smile weakly. I return it and hold you tighter. I pull you in towards me, so close that months from now, when they come with hazmat suits and Geiger counters, they will find our bones so entangled they will be unable to separate them. My smile had faded already but it comes back at the thought.
"Didn't they watch the news? Why are they all outside?" You are frowning at the window.
"Looting," I say simply, as if tonight were any other night.
"Don't they feel the effects? The burn-"
"Maybe they think they're invincible," I cut in, not wanting to hear the details again.
You turn around to face me, propping yourself on your elbow and pulling the blankets up over your shoulder. We gaze at each other as sirens wail outside. The ambulances are still out, paramedics still at work. It's not as comforting as it should be. They'll be dead too, by the end of this night. Don't they know that? Why aren't they, like us, wrapped in blankets in a bedroom a hundred feet above the mess?
"That's ridiculous," you say. "We're inside, but we know that's not going to save us. At least it'll be more comfortable for us. Probably, anyway."
I jokingly shush you like I always do, forehead to forehead. We stay like that for an hour, each of us pretending that the other is the only permanent thing left. Pretending there is still a need for the word permanent.
The air has taken on a foreign quality. It's not quite cold, but there's a sharpness to it, and it's making me nauseous. I feel like my finger is on a razor blade, and I'm the slightest gesture away from slicing it open. As long as I stay perfectly still, I'll be fine, but I can imagine the pain already, and I know it's inevitable.
I watch you sleep, my brow furrowed to match yours. Your faint breathing stops, and so does my heart, but you open one eye and look at me.
The left corner of your mouth turns up and you mumble coyly, "are you watching me sleep?"
"That's the last time, I promise." Dark humour. I wonder if you get the same knot in your stomach.
The world falls apart, and we fall together, so quickly that I chip a tooth on one of yours. I pull my face away to spit the tiny fragment out. We kiss again, this time more carefully, and I can feel your smile curling against mine.
Outside the glass continues to shatter, the sirens still bray, and men gurgle in their own blood. The sounds blend into one but it never manages to reach us. The charcoal-coloured snow deadens the sound, and we are currently occupied with more pressing matters.
There were people on the Titanic who waved away the dessert trolley, not having the benefit of foresight to say "oh, fuck it."