Like Stars

She never looked at the missiles anymore. They hung over the city like stars, frozen in place. Not that she saw stars anymore. Over the last few months - as she counted time - she’d started looking at people instead of the missiles. She found him in Central Park. He was too young for her, but she couldn’t make herself care. His knowing smile as he held his middle finger up to the missiles made her love him.

After that, she ate her lunch sitting next to him, watching him defy his doom. She thought of him often. His smile occupied her while she cannibalized the city for gear; his amused anger haunted her while she jury-rigged that gear into the machines keeping time frozen for another day.

More than once she almost brought him into her time frame. If he were cowering, wishing not to die, she could give him that. But she refused to rob him of his satisfied defiance, or to lose the person she imagined.

One morning - morning to her - she sat beside him, and waited. Soon, the machines would fail, and she could live again. Not long enough to see the stars again, but long enough.