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Jack lit a Camel Light. Skid marks trailed from the tires of ‘98 Lexus like two snakes crushed on a highway. A few cars sped towards North Carolina on 441, but Cassandra and were lover resigned to enjoying the sky’s mood swings. The heavens hung cloudless, the earth seemingly paused in orbit. Stars stuck to the sky, covered by the film of light pollution. Cassie felt a terrorizing calm emanating from both Jack and the Georgia pines that grew in patches along the pavement.
“You’re the eternal optimist, Jack.” She unclasped the top button on her blouse. They both watched the orb of frozen gas bisect the space between the moon and earth. The comet turned from hues of deep purple and navy blue into bright white. The stars dissolved as the glare crept across the windshield, reminding her that we see only in the language of light. The lack of whirling dust flakes made her lips pout with orphanlike needfulness. Such sterility was unfeminine.
“See it coming?” Jack whispered. He exhaled the thick cigarette smoke. Jack’s neck beaded with sweat.
“It’s beautiful really.” Jack gawked at the flames swirling off the comet. The patterned fire became more visible as the minutes passed.
“The news didn’t mention that it would hit us.” Cassie shook down her auburn hair, while freeing her shirt from her waist. The coarse linen brushed her skin, making her aware of her flesh. Her breathing shallowed. For a few seconds, the world became ominously sexless. Jack’s warm Mid-western face suddenly appeared to be composed of angles and edges. The bony ridges of his nose and the curve of his lips set her nerves on edge. She felt separate. “You’d think they would’ve mentioned that.”
Jack turned on the radio. Twisting the dial to the left and, then, to the right. Static hung in the air like a taut wire. Cassie pulled a Madonna tape out of the glove-compartment and popped it in.
“I like listening to white noise.” Jack was cut short by a deliberate kiss. He turned toward Cassandra, watching her white bra rise and fall with each breath. Her left hand pulled on his Polo shirt. He noticed the lackluster gold ring on her finger.
“Why aren’t you with your husband?”
“I don’t know.”
Jack winced as he felt the cotton leave his body. The thought of his body disgusted him. Pores scattered throughout clammy flesh, capillaries riddling the meat beneath, liquids pumping through. It to sickened him. The sky grew brighter. He saw all that was in the front seat: gleaming flesh, a little pine tree air freshener, the old Burger King wrapper on the floor. Jack closed his eyes and allowed for the weight and texture of Cassandra’s skin to sink into him. He thought with fascination about a burning log. Chemical reactions leaving only fertile ashes. Perhaps Cassie would consume him. The moon blurred as Cassie nipped his ear.
She wrapped her body around his torso. Jack could feel her heartbeat increase. He pressed the cigarette into the driver’s side ashtray; its cherry smoldered for a few seconds as the flame went out. “Anyway, he’s probably watchin’ some stripper right now.”
“Like we’re watchin’ a comet?” Jack pulled away from her clammy belly. His index finger traced the outline of the Celtic knot tattoo on Cassie’s abs. She inhaled the stale smoke.
It was as bright as daylight now. Blue fire catapulted through the sky. From Cassie’s vantage point, it appeared as if a large airplane was crashing in the distance. She tugged at the brass button on her designer jeans. Madonna’s voice sped up as “Ray of Light” permeated the gray plush interior. Jack unclasped her bra, fumbling for a few seconds before exposing her small breasts. Cassandra feigned a sigh.
Jack banged her head against the passenger-side window as he pummeled Cassie with kisses. She saw the kudzu climbing the evergreens across the highway. The vines resembled burning magnesium, glowing an ethereal white. The vines seemed dangerously acute. The razor definition of each leaf cut into her heart. Time slowed. Distance came in droves. Cassie thumbed the elastic ban of her panties.
“Why don’t we run?” She asked.
“To where?” He peered up from her navel. Cassie’s heart sank as Jack yanked down her pants. She ran her fingers through his hair. A warm sensation churned in her stomach; visions of her marriage flashed through her head. A paroxysm of memories and guilt. She remembered when she would slow fuck her husband to sleep, kissing his forehead as he snored. She remembered standing arms akimbo over his instant oatmeal before he rushed another “business” trip to Buckhead.
Jack pulled himself up to kiss her. As he brushed her lips, he ejected the tape in the stereo with his left hand.
“That’s not polite.” Cassie retreated from Jack.
“It’s not supposed to be. May I kiss you now?”
“No. Turn something on.”
“We need silence.”
“No we don’t.” Cassandra turned her head, jarring her neck. She clenched her teeth to avoid spitting in his eye. “Damn it, Jack. I hear humming outside.”
Jack responded with only a glance to the window. “We need silence.”
Cassie embedded her front canines into her lower lip. She caught a glint in Jack’s eyes for a second. Feeling martyred, like the whole world was about to feel, Cassie accepted the next words from her mouth: “I love...”
“Words like that don’t matter.” Her tears hazed her vision of his green irises and black pupils. His voice wavered.
“Don’t talk like that.” Cassie pushed Jack with her palm, pressing on the groove in his shoulder. He slid down into her pubis.
Jack shrugged. “We’re only being recycled.”
“Shut up. ” Cassie slapped him. “There is no damned reason for you to try to be intelligent.”
She paused, noticed the stillness outside, and spoke. “We both know we’re going to die.”
“So...” Jack’s voice was murky from fear and adrenaline. Jack kissed her slender hand. She leaned forward and embraced him. Cassie thought she could feel the ions jump from his body to hers. In the rearview mirror, she could see bright blues engulfing the sky. Everything mixing, becoming one. Her heartbeat quickened. Jack’s pulse almost stopped.
“At least, we aren’t alone.”
On the other end of a highway a truck slammed on breaks, hitting a tree. The over-weight driver staggered out of the contorted Ford and stared upwards until his retina burned. Synapses firing so rapidly that his muscles could not respond. Strands of spittle lined his mouth as he tried to scream. Melting ice streaked the atmosphere.
Cassandra and Jack didn’t notice this. With tightly clenched eyes, they touched each other’s bodies. The comet scorched the air. The sky bleached with heat and the windshield began to fog.
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