Pour some hot sauce on the pasta and really make is sing.
She says this and I do it, because obviously... she's a pretty girl telling me to make food spicy. Spicy leads to sex, or at least I connect the two in my brain, and I dump in a quarter of the bottle. It turns the cheesy, vegetable-studded concoction pink. We eat it with too-large spoons, shoveling the gooey mixture into our mouths, the stereo blasting old albums from when we were in high school. The food is good; warming us up on this cold, cold night. We eat and eat until we're scraping the bowl, trying to get the last bit of cheese onto our spoons to smear on our tongues.
Finally, it is finished. We flop on to the floor of her living room, groaning, full nearly to bursting, and we drink cans of cold beer and tell each other stories about how we got our scars. When the beer begins to affect our brains, we move to her bedroom, undress, and lie naked under a thick comforter she got on sale during a brief spurt of domesticity. I run my fingers around her back, raising goose flesh, and she tells me about the time she got drunk at a party and stripped naked for everyone to see, because she liked the song on the radio, because it made sense at the time. She starts to cry at the memory; someone had a camera there, a Polaroid, and the pictures made the rounds as scandalous pictures do.
Thank god, she says, the Internet wasn't such a big deal back then.
She wipes the tears on her pillow and I ask her why she had never told me that story before. She says she didn't want me to think of her that way. I tell her that I only think of her one way, and that is her... the very idea of her...as a thousand bright ideas thrown upwards into the sky, where they shimmer down upon us mere mortals, making us smarter, making us horny, making us better than we used to be.
She kisses me. I kiss her. It is dark and we are naked. Things happen that are amazing. When we finish, after we do the indelicate clean-up dance, we lie again, naked, under the comforter and talk, drowsy now, about our plans for the future.
I tell her that I'm holding out for the day when rockets power our cars and food is just pills. She pinches me, lightly, and says that with food in pill form, there would be no hot sauce to douse, no cheesy residue to scrape up with a spoon.
I tell her that my vision of the future is a foolish thing; that I want her to tell me how the future will be.
She looks at me, in the dark, our eyes connecting in the hazy middle of the night, and she tells me this:
The future is not going to be how we planned. When I say we, I mean the movies. Of course. It's not going to be flying cars and teleportation and sassy robots that are our maids. No, it's going to be just like this... apartments and cheap food for two eaten out of one big bowl and linens bought on sale... it's going to be how it is now, forever. Sure, the cellphones might get fancier, movies might get beamed into our heads and Google might destroy the dictionary like how Dresden got bombed... but, basically, it's just going to be like this. You, me, an old building, the stories we tell each other, the sex, the feeling of fingers on skin. I hope you're ready for this future; I really do. Because that is all there is.
I ask her, what about the end of the world?
She rolls over on her back, staring at the ceiling. The end of the world, she says, won't be fiery or violent, it won't be from terrorism or nuclear war. It's going to be us, like I said.. you and me... going to sleep and never, ever waking up again. The plants will overtake the buildings, the buildings will crumble into dust, the dust will blow out into the ocean, the ocean will dry up, the seabeds... the land... the geological plates... they will crack apart and the pieces will float off into space.
You're drunk, I say to her, kissing her neck.
Yes... yes I am, she responds, and she kisses me back. Our breath tastes like hot sauce, our minds focus like lasers on each other's bodies. Metaphorical explosions rock her building; walls shake and the windows shatter. Sweaty and groping, for real and not imagined. Not speculated or hypothesized. The right now and also the future, all at once.
It's just going to be us, she had said, and she is right. Until the end of the world, she is absolutely right.