Brittany Marc used to love me. I felt it when we first met. I didn’t think I had a chance at all, but she told her friends she thought I was the most attractive kid in high school. That’s the first compliment I remember, the first one that really mattered. She used to pour me endless shots at parties because she said she liked to see me drunk. She told me I was the life of the party. People say a lot of nice things right before they start ignoring you. I remember locking myself in the bathroom. I saw her kissing someone else. I know, it’s a real wimpy thing to do, but I just wanted to be by myself. I lifted up the toilet seat and vomited. There was so much pain, so much more than I ever thought I’d have for one person. It made me feel crazy and I hated it. I was pissed about giving someone that power over me. Brittany Marc, what a tease. A few years ago, I was getting ready to graduate from high school. I had picked up Brittany from her house and we were going over to one of our friend’s parties. We had been in a stupid fight earlier that day, so I wasn’t concentrating on driving as much as I should have been. We started arguing again. That time it was about how she ignores me when she’s with her friends, which was true. She hated when I criticized anything about her because she thought I was being dramatic. That was the start of our abuse toward each other. She demanded that I drop her off back home, so I did, because I was pretty pissed myself. I told her I was going to have a wonderful time at the party and I would do whatever I wanted despite what made her happy. She left crying and I pulled away in anger. I remember driving down the dark street, almost blinded by my own rage. I thought about pulling over to collect my thoughts, but I just wanted to get to the party. I wanted to drink the night away and not worry about what Brittany Marc had to say anymore. She had done it to herself. She had ignored me and made me feel like shit for too long. I wanted to pass out on someone’s couch and wake up in the morning without any worries. I saw the headlights. I saw that the other person’s car was on the wrong side of the road. I gripped the steering wheel and swerved to the right. It was too late. The truck swerved and crashed into the rear of my car. I heard the crunching and twisting metal right before my eyes closed. It wasn’t my fault. I swear it wasn’t my fault. When I woke up, my body was sprawled across the cold pavement. I was under a streetlight and some people were staring down at me. I heard talk about the accident. “Crushed. It’s crushed. The boy is dead.” I reached my arm up and waved. “I’m not dead! I’m not dead!” I screamed. They looked at me in shock and an older woman bent down to put a hand on my shoulder. “No, no. The other boy is dead.” She waited for my reaction. “It’s not your fault. He drove into your car.” She said it like I should be relieved. If I hadn’t dropped off Brittany back at her house, the boy would still be alive. His name was Robert. He was a classmate of mine. He was dead. How could I possibly be relieved? I saw his body being extracted from the vehicle. I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I went in the ambulance when I saw Robert’s lifeless body lying across the street. They put him into a body bag and zipped it up. I called Brittany and apologized. Things worked out for a while, but we eventually drifted apart. I don’t know why because my memory is messed up now. I don’t feel like talking about it, but there’s not much time. There’s barely any time at all. Her last days at the hospital are vivid to me. I’m still shocked by how quickly she had passed away and I guess I never really dealt with it the way I was supposed to. But right after it, I knew I had to get away. Brittany and I had already broken up, but I went to see her anyway. When I stepped inside the cramped room, everyone stared at me like I didn’t belong. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I had made a mistake when I decided to go there, but I didn’t care. I stood in front of them all with my fists clenched by my side, which was just something I did when I was tense or anxious. I remember her looking up at me with a frown on her face. Her friends were sitting at her side, glaring at me. My expression remained serious as they pushed past me. Her new boyfriend, Joe, stood in front of me for a moment before leaving. He was giving me some sort of warning, but we both knew it didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to make it. Once everyone was out of the room, I slowly made my way over to Brittany’s bed. Her hair had been cut short and she didn’t look happy. She motioned for me to sit in the chair next to her. “What are you doing here?” Brittany asked. We had been so close and we had been through so much together, at least in my mind. Maybe she didn’t feel the same way. Maybe she had never felt the same way. The only thing that changed my mind was that she had made everyone else leave. Clearly, I meant something to her. “I just had to see you…before…” I let myself trail off. “Before I die?” Brittany said sharply. “It really sucks knowing that it’s coming and not being able to stop it. May you have a short, sudden, and unexpected death.” May you have a short, sudden, and unexpected death. Those words stayed with me for a long time. I never wanted to end up like Brittany Marc, slowly dying in a hospital bed. “I’m sorry,” I said. I kept my head down, so I couldn’t see her expression. I knew she was angry, but I wasn’t sure why. I just wanted to say goodbye. But there was also something else. I wanted her to apologize. It was bold going in there, hoping for an apology, but I wanted it. She had been so terrible to me and I wanted her to feel bad about it. To clear things up, I never wanted her to die. I just thought maybe she had come to some sort of revelation. Maybe she had realized things, being on her deathbed. For some reason, I just thought that happened to everyone. “You should be sorry,” Brittany replied, bitterly. “I’m here dying and you get to walk out. You should be here. You should be in my place.” I stared up at her with an angry expression on my face. That was something she had rarely seen. “Why would you say that? What have I done to you?” “It’s just not fair. It shouldn’t be me.” That’s when I realized that people could be selfish, even as they’re dying. They could still be mean and nasty. Sometimes they just didn’t change. “Sometimes shit happens, Brit. It’s not my fault.” Her eyes followed me as I clutched onto her bed sheet. She wasn’t smiling and she was still upset. Her eyes were still filled with anger towards me. She reached up to touch my face. “You’re strong, you’re handsome, and you’re going to live a long life. I knew all that about you when I picked you out of the crowd. I always hated how you never realized it. You were always so fucking oblivious to how the other girls stared at you because they saw it too,” Brittany started. “Even the other guys are jealous of you. That’s why they hate you and that’s why you’re a loner. You’re stronger than you think, but you don’t deserve it. You’ve never fought for it. You’ve never done anything with your life.” My fragile teenaged self couldn’t take what she was saying. I had never done anything extraordinary. All I ever had was Brittany and all she ever did was tear me down. Her back handed compliments made me nauseous. Why wouldn’t she apologize? Why couldn’t she do it before she died? “I’m still sorry that I wasted my time on you,” I said. “I guess I just needed you to hear that.” I smiled. Because a smile helped me once. I still remember the confused expression on her face as she stared back at me. Her boyfriend tried to grab me on the way out, but I punched him squarely in the jaw. I had to step over him to get into the hallway. I felt his fingers graze over my ankle, but he was too messed up to grab me. The walk past her family and friends was unsettling as they hurried back into the room. That was the last time I ever saw Brittany. I didn’t go to her funeral. She had a blood disorder and I guess she always knew about it, even before she met me. I still think it’s funny how much someone can change your life without you realizing it. Brittany had done that to me. May you have a short, sudden, and unexpected death. Brittany’s wish for me eventually came true. I’m saying that now because today is the last day I have on Earth. It’s technically the last day anyone has on Earth, but I guess I really only care about myself right now. I’m selfish. So is everyone else. The asteroid rocketing toward us at this moment is unexpected. I’m sure scientists and politicians and important people everywhere already knew, but they didn’t tell us until today. I guess they decided not to tell us until there was absolutely no hope left. Maybe that’s the best way to go. To think I grew up watching movies and reading books where this happened and I never thought it would be so bad. It’s not, I guess. I’m twenty-one. I’ve screwed up enough to realize that I should just accept the end. There’s nothing much I can do about it anyway. But I don’t know why I find myself thinking about Brittany Marc so much today. It’s crazy to think that even on your last day, you still think about those who hurt you the most. I still find myself wanting to know why. I want to know what went wrong. I know you’re thinking it doesn’t matter because I’ll be dead in a few hours, but I need to know. I eat breakfast as usual, but this morning my house is empty. My family is gone. I have no idea where they decided to go, but it doesn’t matter. My mom and dad never paid much attention to me before, so why should they now? I just happen to be on break from college and I needed somewhere to stay. There’s no special connection between us suddenly because the world is ending. The sun is shining when I make my way outside and my eyes burn when I look up at our impending doom. I can’t really describe what it looks like, but it feels like death. It’s strange to literally be able to see death coming. May you have a short, sudden, and unexpected death. As I shove my hands into my pockets, I think about Brittany Marc once more. The streets are empty and cars are jammed together in the streets in an attempt to escape. Some people believe that hiding underground or in storm cellars will save them, but most people know better. I think most people were just trying to find their loved ones before it was too late. I’m suddenly grateful I was never really connected to anyone. Brittany’s house isn’t too far away, so I walk in a slow pace. There’s only two hours left. It takes me about another twenty minutes to make it and by that time I’m soaked in sweat. It’s not like there’s anyone to impress. Before heading inside, I smoke a cigarette. I push the front door open and find that everything’s a mess. Photos are strewn all over the wood floor, lamps knocked over, furniture’s askew. “Hello?” I try. My voice sounds strange to me. It’s like I want to scream, but I don’t remember how. “Anyone home?” No one answers me, so I step further inside. I make my way up the long staircase because I know exactly where Brittany’s room used to be. I find out they haven’t changed a thing. All of her books are still stacked the same. There are still pictures of her friends tacked to a cork board. I scan it, but I see that none of them are of me. I should have guessed that to begin with. I fall to my knees and peer underneath her bed. That’s where I remember she kept her memory box. I must be in there. I must. As I dig through its contents, I finally find a picture of us. It’s from a party, one of those parties that made me feel like shit once. I smile as I turn the photo over to look for the date. There’s a note. Meet me in the library. You’ll find what you need to know, even after I’m gone. I wrote something for you in our favorite book. Of course I know what book she’s talking about and I know the message is for me. But how did she know I would go through her stuff? How did she know I’d eventually come looking for answers? I shove the photo into my back pocket as I hear a noise from downstairs. I grab the softball bat still leaning against the wall in the corner of Britt’s room. My fingers wrap tightly around it. Breathing heavily, I make my way to the top of the staircase. I see a girl standing in the doorway, around my age. She’s pretty, with light brown hair, and a shotgun draped over her shoulder. I think I know her from somewhere, but I’m not sure where. I must know her if we’re hanging around the same town. She doesn’t notice me until I lean against the wall and cross my arms over my chest. The floor creaks. She raises her gun. “What are you doing here?” she asks. I smile. “You’re really going to kill me? We’re going to die in about an hour. Did you know that?” I ask. She keeps her gun raised, her arms shaking slightly. “An hour is an hour. I intend to cherish every minute.” “Wish I did that before,” I say. The girl lowers her gun as I make my way down the stairs. Somehow I know she won’t shoot me because it doesn’t really matter. She must know it doesn’t matter. “There’s still time.” I’m very close to her, but it doesn’t seem to make her uncomfortable. She has a unique smell to her, a mix between flowery perfume and a smoky fire. I’m about a head taller than her, but she peers up to look me in the eyes. Hers are blue. At that moment, I can’t seem to remember what color mine are. “Is this your house?” the girl asks. “No. I was trying to find something,” I say. “I have something to do.” I move to the side of her and put my back against the way. She watches me carefully. “Why did you come here?” She looks at me, but then shakes her head. A moment later, she turns away and hurries outside. I’m not sure what to do. It only takes me a split second to realize I should chase after her. I catch her outside as she’s walking back toward the road. I walk next to her for a while before she will even look at me. “Do you remember me?” she asks. We both stop and I stare at her. Something registers, but I can’t quite place it. It feels like my memory is falling apart. My mind is jelly. “No,” I admit. “Forget it,” she says. “I was just…I just didn’t want to be alone. I saw you and—” This time I don’t stop her as she walks away. I decide to make my way to the library. If I get there soon, I will have just enough time. I need to know what Brittany wanted me to know. About halfway, I start to remember something about the girl. A smile. There was something about a smile. There’s something about when someone smiles that makes everything seem better. A genuine smile. Not a smirk. There was one point in my life where I had accepted the fact that I was going to die. I was pretty young and I had this constant pain in my right side. I didn’t say anything because I’ve always liked to ignore when I was in pain. I didn’t like hospitals or doctors or the smells involved. That time it was too intense. My appendix had burst and I was almost too late getting to the hospital. I remember I had to go in the ambulance from school. There was a girl who grabbed my hand and squeezed it. She smiled. Death seemed fine. That girl. I know that girl. I never thought I would forget her, but I did. Her memory was eventually pushed out by the awful memories of Brittany Marc. I pull out the picture of Brittany and me, but it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. I stare up at the asteroid, which is closer than ever. I turn away from the direction of the library. There’s not much time. When I finally find the girl again, she’s outside a movie theater I used to work at. She smiles at me and it’s familiar. I’m sure it’s her, but I don’t ask. It doesn’t really matter. “Thought you had something to do,” she says. I shrug. “Nothing really feels as serious as it used to be.” “What should we do?” she asks. I point up at the theater. “I think there will be a good movie playing in a few minutes. I know how to set it up,” I reply. “I’ll put on one of my favorites.” She grabs my hand. May you have a short, sudden, and unexpected death.