Forbidden Fruit by Wolfgang Kaiser
Here we are, Jane and I, sitting here in some sort of basement, locked in and prepared to die. Our families are gone; other than the cannibals roaming around this town, we’re the last ones alive, as far as we know. Given the circumstances, Jane still won’t love me back. I’ll try and I’ll try, but nothing will work.
She’s laying right here, cuddled up on my lap in the freezing cold. I’m leaning forward, breathing warm air heavily into the back of her shirt to keep her neck warm. It was an old trick my father once taught me. “Whenever you have a girl falling for you and she’s freezing cold, just breathe on the back of her head. She’ll love you and feel protected; like you’re the cure for everything wrong in her life.”
Jane sits up and walks over the corner and undoes her belt, and looks at me. “Don’t look.” She empties a box full of canned food and blocks the view, and I look away, but I still hear the trickling. The conditions of this basement are terrible. There are no bathrooms. There are no windows out. And as far as we know it, the door is locked as well. The constant banging of the cannibals has come to halt, and hopefully, they’re long gone. Hopefully, they’re dead.
The trickling stops, the jingling of her belt begins as she’s pulling her pants back up. Instead of resting back down on my lap, she sits right beside me. My guess is, she feels so disgusted having to pee in front of me (she’s always been a private person, keeping a lot of personal things from me, but hey, peeing in front of your significant other isn’t exactly common) that she’d rather not even make eye contact with me.
“Do you think we’ll ever be a couple again? You know… if I were the last man on earth?”
“I don’t think so. Sorry Adam.”
Let’s rewind. Two weeks ago, I’m taking this ungrateful bitch to dinner. This was our two year mark. How many high-schoolers make it to that amount of time? None that I know, that’s for sure. I dressed up in a nice dress shirt and tie, just like she likes. Jane always grabbed me by my tie whenever we were out in sort of a frisky manner; she knew that was what I liked. We get to this place, simply called The Restaurant. It’s a five-star restaurant, and with my new job, I was able to take her there. Why it was named that? No one knows. I don’t think it was given a five-star rating for its name. The food is stellar, no doubt about that, but they’re cocky for thinking they can make so much money off of such a shitty name.
Jane sits there, playing with her food rather that eating it (a fine example of her bulimia) and I am devouring my burger, which I’m sure is attractive to her. Half of the ingredients contained in said burger are presumably on my dress shirt instead of landing on my napkin I so gentlemanly put on my lap before the meal even begun. I catch her staring somewhat creepily as I’m eating, and it causes me to stop.
“What’s on your mind, hun?” I ask.
“You ARE aware of what I eat, right?” She responds.
“Well when you DO eat, you’re a vegetarian.” Okay, so that was a little uncalled for on my part. It was supposed to be a sarcastic joke, but it wasn’t right. And as a disclaimer, I’d just like to say, that was very wrong of me to say. But then again, she’s always doing this. Finding the smallest thing to complain about when I’m simply trying to do something nice for the two of us to keep the love going.
I’m sorry, Jane. Hopefully some day I’ll be the boy you once loved again.
To make a dramatic exit, she shoots the chair back so it falls over, and she walks out. If she were actually using some sort of silverware instead of playing with her food with her fingers, it would have been thrown on the plate. I raise my hand, waving at my waiter, saying “check please”. I pay my bill (one hundred dollars for a burger and a pasta dish that she didn’t even eat) and rush outside to see her sitting on the hood of my car waiting for me.
“I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.”
”I made a pretty shitty remark myself, I started it. Don’t sweat it.” And just like that, I thought we were okay. But, as they say, ignorance is bliss. Nothing was okay, especially not us. I drove her home, five miles under the speed limit. That was one of the things I loved about us, no matter whether we were late to any sort of occasion or not, we always drove or walked slower than usual, because we enjoyed our time together. I drove, played some soft music, and right as I began to-
“Can you drive a little faster, please?”
And next thing I know, I’m going twenty over speed limit, getting her home. No police cars were out that night, which was convenient for me. I slam on the brakes, right in front of her house.
“Well, you’re home.” She begins to tear up.
“What’s wrong, Jane?”
“…This doesn’t feel right anymore.”
“Oh, the food? Yeah, it’s not quite settling in my stomach either.” And right as I said that, I understood what she truly meant. She didn’t have anything to eat. Jane was talking about us. I don’t know if it was the terrible dropping sensation of knowing I was being dumped or that burger taking its toll, but I really needed to use the bathroom. Or I felt sick. One of the two.
“Is it the sex?” I asked her. I felt I had to ask because my shortcomings weren’t exactly bringing her pleasure or satisfaction. Whenever we DID have sex (and believe me, that wasn’t often) at some point she would just tell me to stop, not because I was hurting her or anything, but she just wasn’t in the mood.
“Well, that is a reason, but a very, very minor one.” Ouch.
“Well what’s a major reason?”
“We should talk about this tomorrow.”
“No, we shouldn’t. We should talk about this now.”
“Fine. It’s you.”
“What about me?”
“I don’t find it possible for me to love you anymore. That spark is gone. There’s no more happiness. We’re so hostile it makes me sick.” I could see where she was coming from. Every little thing we said was rude and nasty towards each other, a perfect example being what we said to each other at the dinner table.
Jane stepped out of the car and slammed the door behind her. I’m one hundred and two percent sure she just broke up with me. I drive home and blast music, smoking a cigarette I promised my father I’d never smoke in my lifetime since I was a child.
It’s amazing how people come and go in your life. One moment you think someone is never going to leave and you’re going to be the closest you’ve ever been with someone, and they’re gone. Whether it’s a girl, a best friend, a parent… Every relationship I’ve ever had with anyone has eventually gone to shit. It feels like meeting someone for a night and having the greatest night in the world, but the next morning when I wake up, everybody is gone, and I’m left in a bed wondering if it was all just a dream.
It’s also amazing when you think you know someone so well that you begin to predict what they’re going to say or what they’re going to do when it comes to certain situations. But, in my case, my best friend accused me of lying and over exaggerating about every little problem at home when the one place I would run to from home would be his house. A true friend would not ask questions and force upon me his judgment, because in the end, it’s none of his fucking business. I guess I haven’t found a true friend yet. Matthew, I figure, wasn’t ever really worth my time. I suppose it was his love for Jane that was the final straw on the camel’s back.
I suppose Jane is indeed my only true friend. She sticks…well…stuck with me no matter what I was going through. I didn’t need anyone else. Not my best friend, not my Mom, not my own family. I hardly saw my family anymore because all I was doing in my life was giving all I possibly had in this world to her. I gave her my all, and the only thing she could do was make it about her. This realization would take time, but maybe I am better off without Jane. And Matthew, well, that’s a given.
I get home, and of course, Noah is sitting on the couch with my Dad watching television. I suppose I was so shocked by Jane that the news on the television didn’t even faze me. Noah and my Dad didn’t say anything, and of course there were a few empty beers sitting there on the table.
I lied directly on the floor and plug in my headphones and blast music into my ears. To be more dramatic, I could tell you that I was listening to mine and Jane’s song on repeat. “You’re So Cool” by Hans Zimmer. We decided it would be our song when we saw Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance the first time and it was playing at the end. That was the first time I kissed her.
I look up at the television and I see the six words on the screen that would change (and possibly end) the rest of my life.
“Yellowstone to Erupt Any Day Now”
I pull out my headphones, and my Dad, slurring his words, says, “They are fairly confident it’s going to go west first, meaning we’re going to be the last ones affected. So just relax, we don’t need to pack and go anywhere just yet. Besides, where is there to go?”
“Dad, we should still pack. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“No, don’t worry about it.” My Dad has always thought much easier than I have. I’m the serious one in the family, but I don’t mind it. I get shit done. I don’t worry about things until the last minute. I stood up and started walking right past them on the couch to head toward my room, but my Dad grabbed me from his seated position to push me back down to the ground.
“Sit down. Just watch the news.”
“Guys, can we stop?” My six year old brother has witnessed too many fights between my Dad and me for his own good. I stood back up and dodged my Dad’s hand reaching for me, and headed to my room. I grab my suitcase and start throwing clothes in it, but my Dad grabs me by my hair and pulls me back.
The relationship between my Dad and I has never been very easy, for either of us. And now that I think about it, with him gone, I regret every little disagreement I ever had with him. I’ll never have closure, so maybe this is something I shouldn’t exactly worry about either. But the fights, just before the eruption, erupted. They started getting physical. And when I went to Matt’s house, all I would ever do was get crap for it, saying my Dad was a good guy.
“I thought I told you not to worry about it.” He says.
At this point, he’s ripped a good portion out of my hair, and I turned around and swung at him. With my short arms, I missed, but I was able to get ahold of myself to grab his arms as he swung at me. With just the power of my legs, I pushed myself into him full force, right into my cheap door. The door cracks in half and we fall right through it, but I didn’t stop there. At this point, I have myself on top of him, and this dark, dark mindset overcame me, causing me to shake and nearly black out.
And at this point, for everything he’s ever done to me, he was going to pay for. For the constant jokes pointed at me while Jane was around, for treating my little brother like shit, for spending half of the child support on alcohol to dull the pain, for making Mom leave… I punched him. I punched him hard. Each time making the tight packing noise I would only think to be in films were actually coming to play. My ears were ringing so loud I couldn’t hear Noah from a distance screaming at me to stop. Of all times to fight with me, my Dad picked the worst. I knew I had broken his nose from this point, and his jaw was soon going to go out of place. Pack, pack, pack. His hands spoke the words his mouth couldn’t, reaching up for my face and chest, patting on me to stop. After a solid nine punches, Noah came running for me and gave me a big hug, gasping for air from crying so hard. I sat back and collapsed against the wall and looked at the masterpiece that I had made.
My Dad, still breathing but not conscious, had a black eye, a huge swelling right cheek that was growing bigger and bigger by the second, a missing tooth, a broken nose, and every orifice on his face was bleeding. All of my anger was gone. Any emotions I ever held against him disappeared, and for a quick second, I felt relief. But that short amount of time had to come to an end; the world didn’t want me to be happy. Especially not like this.
“Get out.” My Dad whispered quickly, not looking at me, gasping for air and staring at the ceiling. He coughs, and a tooth spits out of his mouth, landing right in the center of his forehead. The most beautiful moment we have ever shared resulted in me never, ever stepping foot in his house again. I promptly did what I was told, as much as I didn’t want to, it was the right thing to do. I grab my suitcase that I packed with clothes, went straight for the door without looking back or saying good bye to Noah, the only person I was truly concerned for.
I got in my car, throwing the suitcase in the passenger seat beside me, and gave Jane a call before I started driving. Seeing as it was in the middle of the winter, we were reaching freezing cold temperatures here in Fort Collins. She didn’t answer, but I left a message.
“Jane, we don’t have to talk about anything that happened tonight, but I’ve just been kicked out, and I may even be going to jail. Can I please just stay at your house for the night? My car is freezing cold. I love you. Good night.” Maybe saying I loved her was the reason she didn’t call back; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that was why.
So, I drive around town listening to music, and I notice something quite peculiar about Fort Collins at eleven at night. Usually, the roads are never this busy. They’re usually empty at this point, and I can speed down Harmony road without facing any issues. But, the roads were packed. Everyone was going one way or another. I couldn’t help but notice there were hundreds of cars pulling into grocery stores, with people running out with arms full of grocery bags stocking up for Yellowstone to erupt.
Right there, in the middle of the road, every car came to a halt. Everything was dead silent, so I pulled all of my car windows down to hear the sounds of outside. People were getting out of their cars and running.
The ground below me began to shake. Just a little bit; not enough to make any vehicles of any sort tip over, but then it began to shake violently. I found myself grabbing my steering wheel as hard as I possibly could, like I was on a roller coaster shaking me so hard that I couldn’t control myself. I hate roller coasters.
The passenger seat of my window shatters into thousands of pieces, some pieces landing on the seat. Before the other windows would break, I got out of the car and ran to the grass and laid down, putting my hands over the back of my head and shielding myself from whatever was to come next. I look to my right, while the city was still shaking vigorously, and the road begins to crack and split apart, breaking everything beneath me.
The road, as unbelievable as it sounds, split apart, causing certain wheels of different cars to fall in, and some to flip over. The roads, at this point, were impossible to drive on. Noticing that I was right next to the Safeway of my part of Fort Collins, I knew Jane lived close. I got up despite the shaking, and ran straight for her place, a solid two miles away.
And for a split second, I considered going back for my family first, but unfortunately, being a dumb teenager, I figured saving the girl I was madly in love with that shared no said emotions back was a smart idea.
Buildings were collapsing into disgusting piles of rubble, with people inside screaming for help, if not already dead. I ignored their screams, for there were too many to save and I figured Jane was going to die if I didn’t save her. I kept running, ready for any obstacle to come my way, for nothing was going to stop me from saving her. Although I didn’t understand how the earth was still shaking so violently, I knew one thing was true and I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
My world, our world, was coming to an end.
To be continued…