The prompt from 3 May contained required the use of ‘vermillion’ and ‘musky’. I think I managed it. It’s still 3 May in New Mexico, for example so technically I can still squeeze it in. Well, it was written before my Swiss midnight.
Her face looks beautiful in the bright, white light. Her musky perfume fills the air as we sit on the terrace. The shadows of her features pronounced in contrast, her nose creating a pyramid-shape and the furrows creating trenches in her forehead as she looked away from the glare; it’s a magical moment but one doomed to pass quickly, as all moments do. In this early evening dim I am fascinated.
The day had dawned cold but bright, and, following breakfast of espresso and a croissant we decided to take a long walk along the coastal road, up and down the small hills with little traffic to disturb the tranquillity of it. We must have walked more than 10 miles before deciding to stop for lunch at a small restaurant just off the road, perched on a small cliff overlooking the rock-strewn beach beneath us. We ordered a Prosecco each from the bar and sat down at one of the small, plastic tables on the terrace, pulled our coats around us and lit a cigarette.
We had a fine lunch of spaghetti with clams followed by a shared lobster – what the hell, it was a special day after all. The two bottles of white wine went down well, so well in fact I kept nodding off in the taxi taking us back to the hotel. We stayed in bed for a couple of hours, making sweet love and holding each other close, barely speaking; there was no need. Finally, as the daylight outside faded in its wintry haste, we took a shower, dressed and went down to the hotel terrace looking over the sea. I tightened my scarf around my throat while she pulled down her hat and we sat. Our drinks arrived.
The seagulls were screaming, swooping and diving every time a wave broke and the sound, along with that of the waves, filled the evening.
The western sky still glowed a variety of pinks and one by one the stars appeared but none outshone the beautiful Venus, her vermillion majesty abroad in the evening sky. Sitting above the now-set sun she took centre stage.
“What’s that low star darling?” She asked, pointing to it. “It’s so bright.”
It was in fact enormously bright, even in the frigid winter air. The hairs on the back of my neck made a lazy, crawling motion. As we looked, she continued to burn brighter then, suddenly, her light expanded. It continued doing so until it seemed the sun had returned from below the horizon. Still the light expanded. The first knot of fear appeared in my stomach.
“What is it Honey?” She asked, holding my arm tighter.
“No idea, well actually I do but it’s not a rational one”
“Tell me!” It was an order. She fumbled in her bag for her cigarettes.
VENUS HAS EXPLODED! I wanted to shout. I didn’t however. My mind filled with possibilities and ramifications of our red sister disappearing into a million pieces. My mind asked how, yet I knew the answer, it was obvious.
“Do you remember you read that article in the newspaper the other week about the approach of a couple of asteroids, big enough to do damage?” I took one of her cigarettes and lit up. Bloody low- tar were not need at this moment. I broke the filter off and continued smoking. I had her attention.
“Well the experts said they would pass within so many million miles of us. I think that while we’ve been looking out of our porch to see if something was crossing our front lawn, no one told us what would happen if we left the back door open. We’ve been worrying about a rogue asteroid or a misdirected comet for years but we’ve never considered other planets, I mean, why should we? I think something has hit Venus and whatever it was was big.”
The light consumed the night sky. The moon no longer cast a reflection over the calm, black sea. The only reflection came from an ever-growing light around 100 million miles from us.
“Then we’re OK,” she said, sounding fairly convinced, “I mean what harm can it do us from here?”
She had a point; I mean what was going to happen? A huge piece of rock had thrown itself into the second planet and by the looks of it had obliterated it, creating nuclear chain reactions and sending a million pieces flying through space. What harm could it do? I didn’t want to analyse that question, I didn’t need to. I knew that somewhere across the gulf of space a piece of our sister planet was heading our way.
We ignored the cold and remained seated outside. The bowls of olives and peanuts had been consumed; the ashtray had been emptied once and was steadily filling up again. The light was getting ever brighter, the night sky lit completely, even the birds in the trees started singing, thinking it was daytime. We continued to sit and watch, entranced.
Her face looks beautiful in the bright, white light. In this early evening dim I am fascinated. They told us the world would end December. I’m now going to order us the most expensive champagne followed by the finest cognac. I don’t think I’ll have time to pay for it. I don’t think we’ll be here much longer.