On Our Last Day

And now, a randomly generated scene…

Nouns: soup, existence, discussion, guide, limit, trick, wine

Adjectives: glossy, nosy, witty, overjoyed, proud

Verbs: build, oversee, allocate

Adverbs: maniacally

Wine

‘Come on, Evie! We’re almost there! Just a little further!’

Evie panted behind her guide, struggling to keep her little legs churning as the ground steadily inclined. Eyeing the top of the ridge, her tiny, pattering heart sunk to her sneakers. It seemed a world away.

‘Where are we even going?’

‘It’s brilliant! You’ll love it…’

‘…just the strangest notions!’

Evie caught herself dreaming and quickly oriented to the conversation dancing flippantly between her circle of six. She sipped her wine, widened her eyes appropriately in faux interest, and smiled.

‘I know! I had this trainer once who I could never quite convince of the existence of soup. Stew and water, everything was to him! Just stew and water! He just would not accept that soup was real.’

‘Well,’ came a chortle from beneath a proud salt-and-pepper moustache, ‘he’ll be right come tomorrow!’

Laughter. Too much of it. Evie automatically joined in, but turned from the circle as a tray of stuffed olives passed under her nose, following the tasty excuse to escape. Mouth full and fingers oily, she took a tentative step towards the flung-wide terrace doors and freedom. One step later, she was absorbed into another circle of light discussion, allocated another group by the atmosphere as though seeking solitude were a sin.

But it wasn’t solitude she sought.

Why had she come? Why on God’s sweet green earth was she here?

‘Are you serious?’

‘Deadly so! I’ve seen it!’

No longer daunted by the hill that rose ever steeper before her, Evie positively raced to catch her guide – her friend. She’d paused halfway up, dancing impatiently on the spot, her own breath wheezes, but eyes glittering with anticipation.

‘Why’d they even build it?’

‘No idea. But it’s amazing!’

Evie’s guide – her friend – grabbed her hand as soon as Evie’s minuscule fingertips were in reach and tugged her along, helping her climb as loose soil crumbled about their feet.

‘Come on! We’re nearly there…’

‘Evie? Evie Tay, are you in there?’

‘Hmm?’

A pair of glossy pink lips spoke to her face.

‘How wonderful to see you! What have you been up to, lately? How’s that last act coming along? Did you ever finish? I suppose it doesn’t matter, now, but I was so looking forward to seeing you perform one last time. You look wonderful, by the way – someone’s been dieting. Grapefruit or slim shakes – you must tell me!’

What was the point in being nosy now? The habit, it seemed, could be broken by nothing.

‘Evie, this is Henry. Henry, this is Evie Tay. She’s the one I was telling you about, the spoken-word artist? I’ve met no one more witty, not in Melbourne or Edinburgh! Henry’s not so dull himself, you know, Evie – the tricks he can do! Let’s see if I can’t find a pack of cards. Two wits in a mansion-full of fools… you two will get on like a house on fire!’

Henry’s lips weren’t glossy, but, like the rosebud-pink example, smiled in plastic pleasure.

‘Suzanne, I don’t know why you’re insisting on introducing us now. It’s hardly fair – one needs time to enjoy such a lovely new acquaintance’s company!’

‘But I’ve been meaning to get you two together for years – you’re still single, aren’t you, Evie? And what time better than now?’

‘How about years ago, Suzanne? How about that?’

It took some time for Evie’s ears to stop ringing. She drank some wine, disinterestedly checking her glass for cracks. Those maniacally giggling lips released sound shrill enough to shatter.

‘Can you hear the music?’

‘I can hear it! I can hear it!’

The air grew crisper and cleaner with the altitude, and, the higher they climbed, the more divine, sweet smells that scented it – fairy floss, popcorn, and deep-fried, salted chips. Evie’s guide – her friend – her sister – breathed deep, filling her lungs with what Evie hoped would soon be filling their bellies.

‘I’ll buy you chips if you get the lemonade.’

‘Okay.’

Evie sighed, excitement tingling her every nerve, but little bones so weary.

‘Come on, Evie. Almost there…’

‘You could at least try to be social, Evie. To be nice. A lot of folks have reached their limit, you realise.’

Hadn’t everything?

‘Is that why the television’s off?’

The enormous screen on the wall was conspicuously black. Evie hadn’t seen a television switched off in weeks.

‘We’re trying to relax. Enjoy ourselves. Now, must I oversee your every move to see you do the same?’

Oversee her every move? To make sure she enjoyed herself?

Evie sculled until only a dribble remained at the base of her glass. Suddenly, breathing wasn’t so easy anymore.

‘I’m going outside.’

‘Jan and Tracy stepped out a moment ago – don’t mind them.’

On the terrace amid the roses, Evie tuned out in the fresh air and sank to a stone bench, warmed by the evening sun. There, her eyes found the sky.

‘Here we are!’

Exhaustion fled her, and Evie pointed wildly into the valley below, ecstatic.

‘There it is! Look!’

The Ferris Wheel. The merry-go-round. A tamely-twisting wooden roller coaster with bright blue, freshly-painted cars.

The scene spread magnificently before them. Evie and her guide – her friend – her sister – her Tanya – took it in together, out of breath and pink-faced from the climb, but shining. Overjoyed.

‘I told you it was here!’

She’d never doubted her.

Evie finished her wine and threw her glass away. It shattered among the petals and thorns.

The moon-wide meteor skipped ever closer, fiery tail of gas and debris like dark fireworks. Evie would have preferred scarlet and gold.

She should have called Tanya. They should have gone to the fair.

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