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Apocalyptic Kindness

From a dream...

Darkness loomed over me in the hallway.  I'd been leaning against the wall, but my strength was beginning fail me finally. It had been too long, to many days, too little sleep.  I was amazed I had survived this long.  I had no idea how I would keep going.

The world had gone to Hell outside, and somehow I found myself standing in the hallway of an ex-boyfriends home.  It was all but abandoned now.  The home once teeming with life and people felt empty; abandoned.  Tears burst from my eyes and silent sobs shook my aching, tired body.  With my back against the wall dividing the hallway from the kitchen, I began to slide.  Slowly at first, my knees finally buckled and I collapsed in a heap on the cold hardwood floor, hugging my knees.

I thought about all the people who had died already as I stared at the wood grain in the floor.  I wondered if I would ever again see anyone I knew, or even if I would survive another week.  The world was ugly now, people had progressed past killing one another for water into killing one another just to have less competition for survival in the world.  I stared at the mud on my shoes and ankles as I asked myself over and over in my mind why it was I had decided to come to this particular location.  I knew I wouldn't be welcome there.  I knew they would have turned me away if they hadn't been gone already.  At one time, I had adopted them as though they were my own family.  But that was long ago.  I was a stranger to them now - another bit of competition for survival.  I was another obstacle, another easy target.  I meant nothing to my ex, and I was pretty positive I would mean nothing to the rest of the family.  Just another mouth to feed.

But the door had been open and I knew the family was long gone.  They had packed up their RV's with the dogs and survival supplies and were gone.  They were probably hundreds of miles away by now, avoiding the main roads, searching for isolation, escaping the madness.  They were doing what I knew I should have done weeks ago.  They had gotten out.  And with them disappeared my last inkling of hope that I would survive that night. 

I hadn't seen my ex's nephew in a few years, but without looking, I knew it was him.  He always towered over everyone at well over 6' tall, and yet he walked with a quiet grace so rare in the noise of the world.  His heart was just as tender as his steps, and as he crouched low to put a kind hand on my shoulder, I realized I hadn't known another human's touch in months. 

I had no friends or family.  I had nobody in the world I could rely on but myself.  The only souls I'd known any form of love from were my furry companions - two cats I lived with before everything went to Hell.  But here was Jeff, offering a hand of friendship, a touch of compassion and caring in this world where such things had completely disappeared.

I leaned back against the wall, not wanting to look him in the eyes.  The relief I felt at knowing there was still kindness and life in this world was too much to keep in.  In a maddening moment of great depression and exaltation, I burst into fat cries of joy and sorrow.  My lips curled back in a childlike grimace filled with the confusion and pain that came with emotional outbursts.  He put his arm around me, I collapsed my head into his shoulder and sobbed great, increasing, hulking, massive sobs.  And Jeff, my former boyfriends nephew, did nothing but hold my shoulders and let me cry.

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