Friday, October 7, 2011

A Practical Gift in time of Apocalypse

[Originally posted at Slacktivist and The Slacktiverse.]

Fred Clark wrote:

But here, in the midst of the Great Tribulation, with relentless unprecedented calamity on the doorstep, such hackneyed, prefeminist, materialist drivel is even more ridiculous. In the context of what is about to come and of all that these characters should be — but inexplicably are not — preparing to face, extravagant baubles like this are just laughably inappropriate.
So I tried to write a story about a more useful gift in a time of world ending chaos. Not between Rayford and Amanda, between two characters pulled from the ether.
She was at our usual spot, a nice little pile of rubble that was just about the ideal size and shape to sit on. I sat next to her and tried to figure out what to say, I'd never given her anything before. I'd tried to think of it before hand, I couldn't stop thinking about it in fact. A thousand different variation had refused to leave my. Until that moment.
I didn't know what to do.
I was so busy thinking, "Is this the right moment? Is this the right moment? What about this?" that I wasn't really paying attention to what she was saying. She noticed, of course.
She asked, "What's wrong?"
I said, "Nothing's wrong," probably a bit too fast, but I was still having trouble with the whole gift giving thing. I couldn't find the right words.
She looked at me with a mixture of confusion and curiosity, and perhaps a bit of suspicion, in the awkward silence.
Finally I said, "I got you something."
She took a moment to process it, and then asked, "What?"
Nervously I reached for the gift. I pulled it out slowly, I made sure that the safety was on and the chamber was empty. I showed her the open the chamber so she too could see it was empty, and I handed it to her.
She looked it over. At first I couldn't tell if she liked it or not.
"It's slightly used," I confessed. "It only has eleven shots in the magazine."
She smiled at it and said, "No, it's..." and I thought she liked it. I wasn't sure what was supposed to come next, but it sounded like it would be complimentary. But, then, nothing came next. The silence lasted for long enough to make me worried, then she said, "You shouldn't have," not looking up from the gift. I wasn't sure what to make of that. She seemed to like it, so why say that?
She looked me in the eyes and said, "You should keep it."
I kept her gaze while I struggled with what to say. 'When I was digging through the rubble and found it I thought of you'? That'd go over well, I'm sure. 'There's a very real chance one of us might die in the near future and should that come to pass I'd really rather it not be you'? 'I like you and wanted to get you something and that's pretty much all I have'?
I didn't know what to say so I just said, "I want you to have it."
And for a while we just looked at each other. I don't think it had anything to do with the gift really. She set it down, barrel facing away, for a moment I thought she was going to say something, and then she hugged me so hard it knocked the breath out of me.


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