Abby was sitting on the edge of her bed with her phone tucked between her ear and her shoulder while her hands held open her boot wide enough or her to slide in her foot. She was having an ill-timed conversation with her younger sister who grappled with quite a bit more uncertainty in her life than her ambitious sibling.
“I know there will be guys there, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to go,” said Abbey nearly falling backward as she pulled her boot up.
“Well, first off its a cow,” Abbey said with some annoyance in her voice.
“Oh, ok, whatever I’m sure this particular cow had a hand in the creation of the universe,” Abbey snapped. “Go ahead and pray to it I’ve gotta get to to work.”
“Ok I love you too,” Abbey sighed.
She tossed the phone on the bed and groaned in frustration. Her sister’s plethora of personal problems was more than she could manage at the moment. She was having a rare crisis of her own and sooner rather than later she was going to have to resolve it one way or another.
Her fiance Mark having once been an integral part of her before I reach 40 life plan was showing some very worrisome signs that she may have been on the wrong horse. The topic of reproduction was one that hadn’t often discussed at great lengths in their relationship. They both had promising careers and were both enjoying the disposable income and the waning years of what might be considered their youth far too much to consider taking on the responsibility of children.
That started to change when Mark’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. Now over the last few months, having kids went from something to think about at a later more stagnant stage of life to an emergency for Mark. Abby knew the pressure was primarily coming from his mother and she did feel guilty actively denying a dying woman the wish of cradling a grandchild at least once before it was too late. The truth was, though, for Abby it was just the wrong time, and nothing was going to change that.
At 33 years old Abbey was in what she considered her “golden years.” This was the time she would have as a fully cognizant and fully functioning adult to live the life and have the career she spent nearly fifteen years working to attain. This was the segment of her life where she would have the greatest opportunity to achieve as much in her field as humanly possible. It was a relatively small bloc of time, and she was determined to work harder than ever to make the most of it. She was not going to sacrifice that part of her life and that fulfillment of her existence to make someone’s final wish come true.
She went to the bedroom mirror and hastily ran a brush through her hair. She encountered some tangles and winced in pain as she tore right through them. She studied her face in the mirror and decided she looked fine, besides there was no time left for any touch ups. She grabbed her handbag and went to the kitchen to grab her breakfast smoothie. She saw Mark sitting at the table tapping on his phone. He didn’t look up at her, so she assumed he was still angry about last night’s argument.
She decided to try and break the ice “Ugh still more frogs and locusts,” she said with frustration. “I hope my umbrella holds up.”
“Yeah,” Mark curtly replied still not looking up from the screen.
“Make sure to pick up some lambs blood today to put on the door. Hannah said she heard the angel of death was probably going to pass through her sometime tonight,” she said before taking a gulp of the viscus breakfast drink.
“Why? We don’t have a firstborn to worry about,” Mark said condescendingly.
Abby was now too annoyed to continue her pursuit of reconciliation. She slammed the fridge door shut. “Ok Mark this is getting really old and really fucking annoying,” she hissed.
“You know what’s really fucking annoying is having a fiance who doesn't give a shit what I or my family, soon to be her family wants!” He fired back.
“Mark, you knew going into this I wasn’t going to be ready for kids for quite a while it isn’t fair to suddenly spring it on me like this,” she retorted sharply.
“Well, how the hell was I supposed to know this was going happen?!” Demanded Mark. “I’m sorry I didn’t consider how my mother diagnosed with fucking cancer might get in the way of your career path!” Shouted Mark.
“Do you even understand what you’re asking Mark?! Do you?! It’s not you who's going to have to give up your career, destroy your body, and spend an indefinite period dealing with fluctuating hormones!” Abby railed, her white cheeks now burning with a crimson hue.
“Plenty of other women have done it and lived,” Mark said dismissively.
Abby took a deep breath and composed herself. “Whatever Mark I have to go,” she said with a voice filled with the tension of restrained fury.
Mark rolled his eyes, “Yeah like always,” he mumbled.
She marched in a way that wasn’t stomping but still the impact of her step declared her anger. She closed the door firmly but couldn't be considered a slam.
Outside the air was saturated with buzzing clouds of locusts that flew through the air without regard of what they might smash into. Car windows were covered with their splattered bodies and severed angular limbs.
“Ugh,” her face contorted with disgust.
She reached into her handbag and realized she had forgotten to bring her umbrella. She looked back at the door. She felt she had left holding the high ground and she couldn't risk that by going back in. She was hesitant to walk through the storm of wings saturating the air. She held her breath, kept her head down, and her shoulders and went into the swarm head on.
She recoiled from the sound of their vibrating wings tickling her ear. She could feel them pelting her through her coat. She lifted gaze she was almost to her car.
She decided to abandon the cautious approach and make a break for it. She got in her car and shut the door. The sound of the swarm was muffled by the car and soon faded into white noise. She started her car and gripped the wheel. The veil of denial tired around her eyes had slipped. The futility of the conflict between her and Mark and its implications were now clear and undeniable. She let go of the wheel, shut her eyes, and started taking deep even breaths. An emotional torrent in her gut was trying to blast it’s way up but she pushed it back down, and soon it became mild nausea. She opened her eyes and checked her vanity mirror. She shot herself a practiced smile. She held the friendly expression for a moment until she was convinced it looked authentic enough.
She was started by the sudden thud of something hitting her windshield. Smeared on the glass was a red and pink mush with a bent and twitching from leg stick out of the muck.
“Shit it’s the frogs,” She growled. She put her car into drive and sped off down the road. She was working a bit out of town today, the clinic was considerably longer than her commute, and that added stress of running late was something she didn’t need. She took some solace in the full proof excuse the frogs and locusts gave her but what to do about Mark?
That was the question she had grapple with during her long quiet commute. Breaking an engagement was going to be hard enough breaking an engagement with a fiance with a dying mother was a complication she had no known precedent to turn to, no personal confidant to advise a graceful exit. It was going to be a long day.
A hot white flash filled her rear view mirror, and the earth itself began to tremble. She gripped the steering wheel and brought the car to a controlled stop and kept her eyes fixed on the floor. The buckling road settled and the car became still The light gave way to a city-sized pillar of smoke that was quickly swallowing the sky.
Abby breathed a sigh of relief. “Don’t look back,” she reminded herself as she shifted back to drive and pressed on the gas.