The Lingering Evacuation

Author : Christopher Ferri

“Wait, just one more look,” Mary said to Arthur before heading back into the house. Having just gotten seated in the car, he put the key into the ignition and let out a sigh before running his hands back through his hair.

Arthur gave a small pound on the steering wheel and got up to go inside. He had already caught Mary once trying to hide small personal items in her clothes.

They have scanners, he told her, they will only make you remove them then anyways.

The personal preference kits that FEMA had mailed were already as full as they could get. The contents of each had been mulled over obsessively for the last two weeks.

Arthur entered the house and found Mary kneeling on the floor over a cardboard box. The box was filled with children’s artwork, finger paintings of rainbows, hand traced turkeys, a snowman made out of popsicle sticks with cotton balls and several others.

“We photographed all these, right?” she said.

“Mare, theres nothing in this house we haven’t photographed.”

She got up and walked over to the dining room table, her eyes empty. Atop the table were several plastic pins, each labeled with their contents. Photos, letters, etc. She lifted a small box from inside a bin marked jewelry and took out a silver necklace.

“Come on Mary,” Arthur said. “Don’t do this to yourself.”

“The rest of our lives… we will spend on a ship. We’ll never even know if mankind makes it to…”

“Wolf 1061c. Though, I’m sure they’ll come up with a better name for it. Who knows? Maybe we can offer some suggestions? We’ll have all the time in the world.”

“No, we’ll have more.”

Mary sat down at the corner of the table and looked out into the backyard, the sun beginning to shine through the naked trees. Arthur looked over at the clock. He sat down beside her at the head of the table.

“But did you ever think you’d be an astronaut someday? I certainly didn’t. I mean, not that I wouldn’t be… but you? Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”

Mary let out a short burst of laughter before beginning to sob.

“Thank god for that fantastic body or I never would have been able to convince them to let you go with us,” he said.

  Mary wiped the tears from her face.

“Be careful what you say. They might have to redo your mental health assessment.” 

“Then I’ll have to fake it again.”

“How many days will we be in orbit?” she asked him.

“Us? We’ll be up there for about two weeks before the ark departs.”

“I wish we could just spend it down here.”

“That’s not how this works. We have to get in that car and never look back.”

Mary got up from the table, crouched beside the box of artwork again, and picked up some of the construction paper pieces. She gripped them tighter and tighter in her hand, not speaking a word. Arthur stood up from the table and slowly moved to approach her. Just as he was about to touch her shoulders she ripped up all the artwork in her hands and tossed it in the air like it was confetti. She got up and briskly moved toward the door.

“Well, what are we waiting for?”

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1 Comment

  1. Jae

    Effective slice-of-life piece.

    However, this section –

    “Thank god for that fantastic body or I never would have been able to convince them to let you go with us,” he said.
    Mary wiped the tears from her face.
    “Be careful what you say. They might have to redo your mental health assessment.”
    “Then I’ll have to fake it again.”

    Needed clarification, but could have been removed as it added nothing.

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