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rural boys watch the apocalypse

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They sit together in the grass in Awsten's parents' backyard, staring up at the sky. Otto's hand is in his. It's almost like an anchor.

You cannot see the stars in Los Angeles. The city lights and pollution drown them out. He can here. He kind of missed seeing the stars. The sky is clear now, so clear that they can watch the stars fall. Nearly a third of the sky is black.

“I always thought it'd be different than this,” Otto says. “I mean, I didn't really think about it. But I guess I expected… more. Chaos. Earthquakes. Water turning to blood. Four Horsemen 'n stuff.”

But there are just the falling stars. You could go inside right now and it would seem like everything is alright. You could go to sleep and pretend you will wake up in the morning. Some people are doing just that. Not them.

“At least we knew it was coming,” Awsten mutters. “Could you imagine if the weather channel had fucked this one up?”

Otto laughs quietly. “The one time they get it right, and it'll never happen again.”

Awsten's parents are inside, watching from the window. Their neighbors are busy loading up the back of their old pickup— it's piled high with suitcases and cardboard boxes and duffel bags. Awsten doesn't know where they're going. He doesn't think they really know either. His parents didn't pack up anything. To the best of his knowledge, neither did Otto's. Awsten himself certainly hadn't brought much more than a toothbrush and a change of clothes when he flew back home.

Awsten's mother had told him over breakfast that she wanted to see the angels if they really were coming. She wasn't going anywhere.

“Do you…” Awsten pauses. “Is it bad that I wish we could’ve done more?”

“Like what?”

And though it feels like just a moment ago Awsten’s head was full of all his regrets, he can’t think of a single thing he would change.

“I dunno,” he says. “Just more.”

Otto shrugs. “I think we did plenty.”

“But we could’ve been… better.”

“Aws, you'd think that no matter what we did. We could've changed the world and you still would've wanted something more.” Otto grins, and Awsten has to admit he’s got a point there. “We were good. We’re enough.”

Awsten gets the feeling he’s not talking about the band anymore.

“Yeah,” he says quietly. “I guess we are.”

The stars are falling faster now. The sky's nearly empty. Awsten wonders where they go. Are they hurtling towards the earth, leaving craters the size of cities? Are they simply falling away into the void that is deep space? Will the sun eventually come with them? That thought scares Awsten. The sun would take the moonlight with it. The moon is one of his only comforts left. Otto is the other.

Perhaps the stars really are angels, coming to deliver them all to higher places. He wonders if he'll make the cut. He's always believed in God, but… at the end of the day, you never really know. Heaven is a heavy word. He doesn’t feel good enough for that. Not to mention that having faith in the idea that the stars are angels coming to bring their salvation isn't easy.

“Bet you twenty bucks Gabriel brings his stupid harp,” Otto says.

Somewhere behind them, the neighbors' truck revs to life. They are running from something they cannot escape.

“Betcha fifty it's actually Gabe Saporta,” Awsten replies.

Otto snorts. “Like it was him the whole time, or…?”

“Hell if I know.” Awsten laughs. He has to laugh, or else he might cry, and that's not how he wants to go out. “But tell me you wouldn't lose your shit if Gabe fucking Saporta came walkin' down the street with a thousand eyes and four arms and he was still wearing, like, a purple hoodie and green shoes.”

Otto smiles ruefully. Awsten wants so badly to kiss him. It doesn't feel right. Nothing feels right tonight, nothing they ever do can change that. Instead, he grips Otto's hand tighter and worms his way impossibly closer, as if all of this will stop as long as they're together.

There is shouting in the distance, so far away they both have to strain to make out words. It could just blend into the sound of the crickets if they let it. Awsten would like to.

Otto leans his head onto Awsten's shoulder. “Think it'll hurt?”


“Dying. Or whatever's about to happen next.”

Three more stars drift away from their places. The sky is growing brighter, not with daylight but with something else. Awsten lays his head on top of Otto's and squeezes his hand.

“I hope not.”