Gabriella went to the grocery store, the hardware store, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She bought canned meats and vegetables, all remaining gallon jugs of water, paper towels, toilet paper, tampons, and batteries. She also bought twenty legal pads and five boxes of pens, because she planned to keep a record of the chaos, from a chair in front of the window of her sixth story apartment. She’d positioned the chair already. She’d even stacked some blankets next to the chair for when the power went out and the radiators groaned and fell silent. She bought tarps, duct tape, caulk, and Plexiglas—things to repair the broken windows resulting from the inevitable explosions and stray bullets. She was alive with readiness, the way some people anticipated sex. Gabriella had an ex-boyfriend, Kenneth, whom she still loved. At one time during their relationship, she had considered living with him. The only reason she hadn’t was that she hated sex. Cartoonish swellings, animal vocalizations, secretions beyond the mind’s control—the act brought out the worst in people. Desires, it had always seemed to her, were secrets to be kept forever. So long as Gabriella and Kenneth had lived separately, she had been able to construct dates with definite end points. “I have an endodontist appointment,” she’d say. “I’ve got to return a video.” She had met Kenneth in the law office on the seventy-sixth floor of a downtown skyscraper, where she was a copyeditor and he was a temp. Now Kenneth was a museum docent. At the Metropolitan, Gabriella looked at the Egyptian mummies in their glass cases, pots and bowls made by Mayans, and reassembled Greek statue fragments—all places where she expected to find him. All the places where it made sense to find him, where things were ancient, salvaged, glued. Had she found Kenneth, she would have invited him to her apartment. They would have watched the electricity grid shut down together, the skyline blinking out eight square blocks at a time. While the scenario had definite appeal, once Gabriella got home from the museum, she was glad to be alone. She would face the end in solitude. She took a shower, ate a stick of celery with peanut butter, and listened to her old music, high school music—things she would never be able to do again. At ten o’clock she put on makeup. At eleven forty-five she washed it off. She opened the window to the freezing cold air, wrapped herself in blankets, and tuned her ears to the yelling in the streets, bottles breaking, wind howling between buildings. By eleven fifty-five, her pulse was a gong at the center of her body and she felt beautiful. It was the feeling of being the most desirable flower in a field, right before being plucked. History would enjoy her, Gabriella thought. She had written in a diary every day of her adult life, and so her life belonged to history. She believed that one day, someone more prepared than she would find those diaries. That was what she was thinking of right up until eleven fifty-seven. She turned on the TV for the countdown. Dick Clark was old, yellow under the bright yellow lights. It was a very cold night, and the people crowded together in Times Square were clinging to each other for warmth and love. They were excited, but so was Gabriella. Ten, then five, four, three… At one Gabriella widened her eyes, turning towards the window to look out into the city. Ecstatic terror coursed through her arms and legs. There were cheers, fireworks, honking horns. Nothing changed. No lights went out, nothing burst into flames. In her apartment, the digital display on the microwave glared red. Pink, blue, and yellow confetti stuck to the camera lens on TV. Gabriella crashed into midnight, bruised and aching from adrenaline. Still, the last few days had been the best of her life, and for that she was not ashamed.

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Guest Editor: Rebecca Evanhoe was born in Wichita, KS. She earned a BA in chemistry from the University of Kansas, and an MFA from the ​​University of Florida. Her work appears in Harper’s Magazine, Gulf Coast, Vice, Gigantic, Bat City Review, and elsewhere.

Photo credit: Several seconds / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND