“I love you,” mom stares into my eyes, mascara running down hers. She sniffles. Dad stands stiffly next to her. Mom’s mascara lands in blobs on my head, but that’s okay because it blends in with my black hair. I look around at all the other parents saying goodbye to their kids. All of them are bawling like babies. And none of them even look good. They all look disheveled. Including Dad.Mom looks good in her tiny red dress, with eye shadow, mascara and her hair done all curly. Dad’s just wearing a T-shirt and pants.
“My little prince, I love you, and don’t you ever forget it,” mom stars weeping harder now.
Now people start to break off from their kids. They all give them one last hug or kiss and head for the steel stairs. Now there are barley any parents left.
“C’mon, Shannon,” dad says. “We have to go now. Only twenty minutes until...” he trails off. We all know what he’s talking about. Everyone in the world does.
Only twenty minutes until the world ends.
For some people, at least.
“But David,” mom says.
“What if we—”
“I know what you’re going to say, Shannon. You can’t sneak in. There’s not enough food or water in here for any adults.”
“We can put a couple kids outside with the adults,” mom says, then she smiles. She was joking. But dad grunts at her.
“We have to go,” dad says.
Mom backs up from me.
Dad comes over and gives me a hug. He slides me an envelope when mom isn’t looking. “I’ll see you on the other side, right? Don’t wait too long.”
He walks over to mom. He nods to me and they walk into the crowd of kids and parents and I can’t see them anymore. I try to guess where they are, and I catch my last ever glimpse of them as they walk up the steel stairs. They’re blurry.
Just like all of this moment, really.
“Goodbye my little prince!” Mom shouts loudly, so I can hear her from where I am. Lots of people look her way as she and my dad walk up the steel stairs, to their graves.