Who do you want to be with if you were one of the last people left on Earth?
I woke up to a meadow under a clear blue sky, as if I was in heaven. As far as my eyes could perceive, there was nothing else seen but a full-grown tree. Its branches were round, and drooping, covered by elongated leaves. I was a few feets towards the tree, when suddenly a voice broke the serenity.
“Stay where you are,” urged the voice.
I looked around to find where the voice came from. The view remained the same as I saw earlier. It’s hard to tell where the source was, as if it fills the air.
“Who are you? Where is this?”
“We are Moirai. The part of the Earth where you live was dying and resetting itself from further destruction. Removing people was the first step.” The voice is different this time.
“Removing? Are you killing everyone? Then why am I still alive?”
“Kill? Sort of. You are different. I see something special in you,” said another voice.
“You’re kidding me. Bring back my family, murderer.” I shook my head in disbelief. I turned my head to find where the three voices came from.
“Mind your words. I kept you alive in this part of the world. I saved your soulmate as well,” the second voice was heard.
“You can choose to live with your soulmate as the last people on Earth or wander as a lonely soul. Once you make your decision, come back here.” I heard the first voice said.
Before I could ask any question, my eyes became very heavy and the darkness embraced me.
“Gillian. Are you okay?”
I know this voice. I forced my eyes to open. “Brian…” I spoke the name that used to fill my diary.
“Just now you whimpered, are you okay?” asked Brian.
I sat on the bed, found Brian and myself in a dim-lit room. From the window next to the bed, I saw the reflection of myself in a long white tunic, the same clothing that Brian wore.
“I was in the meadow earlier. How did I end up here?”
Brian shook his head weakly. “When I woke up, I was lying next to you. The last thing I remembered is I was in a meeting then suddenly everything was shaking so greatly. I ran to the emergency staircase together with my colleagues, but the ceiling fell on us before we were able to leave the office.” He looked at himself. “I am without injuries or dust from the ruined office. Maybe we are in a dream.”
“Short-pants and a tee, please.” Silence.
“No genie. I don’t know where we are. No books nor written text in this cabin. I do not find any clue. I walked around the area to find out if there’s anyone else around.” He puffed a breath. “We are surrounded by meadow. It’s too dark now, I don’t know what might be waiting for us outside.”
“Moirai told me that the people on Earth were removed and we might be the last people left.”
“Who is he? Why the two of us, then?”
“I heard three different voices, and they called themselves Moirai. They mentioned something like I’m special and something about soulmate.”
“You mean that… I am your soulmate?”
“Maybe. You’re the only one I met,” I shrugged my shoulders. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know. It sounds crazy… Not you. I mean, the whole thing is crazy. Unbelievable.”
“It’s been a year since the last time we met. I thought that I would never see you again. How have you been?”
“I’m good. I was busy at work and other stuff. What about you? Do you still sing in your lunch break?”
“You still remember! No, I don’t sing in lunch break anymore. My lunch break is filled with business meetings. But once in a while, I perform for a gig at weekends.”
“Cool! You’re a professional singer now.”
“Not really. It was Tommy who asked me for a duet partner. Yeah, you were the one who introduced him to me. We had a barbecue party in his house and you swam in his pool after that.”
He laughed. “To be precise, he threw me in the pool. He owed me one. I’ll have him paid when I meet him again. Surprisingly, both of you are close now.”
“We wonder where were you.”
He looked at the window. “I was busy with other stuff.”
“Let’s find if we have any food here. I’m hungry,” I said to break the ice. I roamed around the cabin to see what is there in the food storage.
“No fridge. Maybe we were kept here to starve without food or anyone’s help. I don’t have my phone with me. This stupid clothing doesn’t have any pockets.”
Although I was kind of missing his complaints, my stomach couldn’t wait for too long until he stopped talking. I combed the other area of the cabin and found several covered clay pots in the wood cabinets nearby the cooking area.
“I’ll cook for our dinner,” I said upon checking the pots.
“We won’t be starving? What do you have there?” Brian took the pot filled with wet sands that I was holding. “Carrots? Do we have any meat?”
I closed the last pot. “It’s all vegetables. Carrots, potatoes, and all, but meat.”
“They should get a chiller or something to keep the meat. It’s an unbalanced diet, with having only vegetables. Maybe we should search the cabin again, it must be hidden somewhere,” he insisted.
“If what Moirie told me was right, that the Earth was dying and need to be reset, probably we won’t find any fridge or meat. Both are not environmentally friendly. I got some cashews here for your protein. You can pass it if you’re not keen.”
“You may be right. Let me know if I can help,” he said.
I started washing the brown rice and vegetables I found, while reminding myself about this charming guy I used to love. He knew that I love music and singing, so he encouraged me to get a proper voice recording paraphernalia, like studio monitors, and the digital audio software. Sometimes we went to the music lounge called ‘Jazz Out!’ - where Brian knew the man who could reserve a table close enough to the stage. He knew people in high places and made the most of that access as he wants.
Tommy called Brian social butterfly because he knew which flower to hop in to get the sweet stuff. It was a terrible description of him. At that time, I thought that Tommy was jealous of what Brian could do. But later, I realized that he had moved on from hanging around with us. He ignored each message I sent. I spent my nights on my bed wondering if I was ever considered more than a friend by him. It was a rhetorical question.
If it was not because of Tommy, I would still be drowning in one of my thousand possible scenarios wishing to be with Brian. After he left, we got to know each other better. He was not as sociable as Brian, and he brought me to a different world. Instead of going to places for loud music, he chose to spend time in the cinema or practicing songs for Sunday service. Often, he asked me to practice with him.
One time, he said, “Love is like a music practice. You repeat the same tune over and over again, until it becomes a part of you. Some people won’t be able to sing your song for the first time, and that’s the reason you need to sing it all over again, repeat until they comprehend the feeling you want to share. It takes time, effort, and willingness for you to share a part of you with them. No song can represent your love for someone. Hence, the bottomless love songs’ list and they are timeless.” Tommy shrugged his shoulders. “Time is the test of love. Do not settle for a seasonal love, we all deserve to be loved for life, Gillian.”
“How is Tommy doing?” Brian broke my reverie.
“He’s married to his new job. His new life support is coffees, vitamin, and other stuff to get himself kicking in front of his laptop.”
“It sounds tough. Does he have a girlfriend?” Brian was leaning himself on the dining table.
“He never mention. Maybe he has someone that he loves. He’s not supposed to tell me everything, is he?”
“I wouldn’t know. You two seem close.”
“Well, to someone who disappeared for more than a year, we are…” I brought the dishes to the dining table. “I made Sweet Potato Cashew Soup for your protein intake, Ginger Veggie Stir-Fry and brown rice to fill our tummy.”
He was surprised to see the dishes. “It’s not bad. You can cook!”
“You’re welcome. I’m a vegan now and it’s easier to make my meal, than dine out. I feel so much healthier after skipping meat and its processed products. You should try once.”
He took a spoonful of the soup. “I think I will like this one.” He continued, “I don’t think I ever became a vegan. I feel bad for the poultry and cattle business if they were closed. Maybe you should try to open a vegan restaurant. You’re good.”
“I guess that’s why you are chosen to be here. The Earth needs people like you to be converted for good, and this is the right place to start,” I giggled. “Just joking.”
“Well, I don’t see myself living in this place. I choose Pepperoni Pizza for my birthday cake than other types of cakes.”
“I know that. You prepared one for me, although I mentioned that I’d like to get a Strawberry Shortcake. I knew that it was perfect for your birthday cake, not mine.”
“You mentioned a Strawberry Shortcake for your birthday? Really? Oh… My bad.”
“I forgave you since you gifted me the Sennheiser headphone. Don’t worry about that.”
I forgot when was the last time I had a meal without TV, or phone. I can taste the freshness of the sliced carrots mixed with ginger. Usually, I chewed everything while replying to messages. It was relaxing having a meal without distraction.
“It’s like we are fated to meet again, in this weird opportune time.” He said. “We need to meet Moirai and ask them to bring us back. We need to find out how.”
“I know. We just need to return to the place where I met them. They said that once a decision was made, I have to return to that place. I don’t know how far is that from where we are. We’ll explore tomorrow.”
“Right! We shall do that.” Brian had his last spoon and put it on the table. “What’s the decision that you are talking about?”
“It’s about the soulmate thing. I have to decide whether I will stay as the last people on Earth with my soulmate or wander as a lone soul.”
“Yours? What about mine? I have to decide on my life as well.”
“You can ask them tomorrow. What will you decide, by the way?”
“I can’t see myself living without meat. Worse, I can’t live alone. They can’t force us to choose what they offer.”
Brian was right. If I were given this option last year, I would stick to where I was now with him. I wouldn’t complain to any kind of coincidence, fate, or whatever it is called. But, what if I refused my soulmate? I can live here, but… alone? Would it be better to be with someone I used to love than being alone? We can always learn to love each other. Better, Brian has no one to chase after but me.
The sun had risen when we walked out of the cabin. Without wall clocks, or phones, we couldn’t tell what time it was. The wind blew softly bringing fresh dewy green smell and wiping our hair and long tunic. The tall grassy fields tickled our legs as we move forward. Brian was a few steps in front of me.
“If only they have meat, fridge, and phone, I wouldn’t mind staying here. It’s an amazingly beautiful place. We can explore the whole place together. We can plan for all-year-long-picnic. ”
“One day you’ll get bored with me.” The butterfly won’t find a place long enough to live with.
“We used to talk to each other about anything under the sun. I like the adventurous spirit in you. You always find places to visit, activities to do, and new songs to enjoy. I was never getting bored to spend time with you. Actually… It’s not a foreign idea if we were soulmates. We’re completing each other. I like meat, you like veggies. We love music and adventures.”
“That’s not fully right. I’d love to stay home, reading my books from morning until evening. And repeat.”
He stopped walking. “Wait, you’re just making fun of me, right? What about the weekly plan that you planned for us to explore? Tracking here, visiting that garden there, picnic by the sea, and all of the stuff that you listed before; were they all not your plans?”
“They were.” I stood beside him. “I wanted to be with you, so I forced myself to be outside and planned everything. You were not interested anyway. You had different friends to hang around with. You walked away from me and Tommy without saying anything. To be precise, you had a girl that you chased after.”
“Who said that? Was it Tommy?”
I stood still.
He grabbed long grasses strenuously, and hollered in the quiet landscape. “He told me that he’s interested in you, and I should back out if I were seeing him as a good friend. When he arranged for me a date with his friend, I knew he was being serious with you.”
“Then you left.”
“But I did not chase that girl. We were friends.”
“It’s not different to me. You defended a friendship. You choose your fight. That’s relieving to know that I was the one you were fighting for.” The puzzle was completed now, I was no longer missing the answer of my sleepless nights.
“Gillian! Let me explain,” he grabbed my hand.
“Brian, you were my past. I loved you. I still cannot forget about you, and probably you will forever be a ghost to me.” I released his hand. “After you left, I learned to live without chasing someone else’s love and approval. I forced myself to eat what you like, do what you like, and wait even after you long gone. I began to love someone that I used to put aside because I had my eyes on you. Someone who’s been longing to be loved all the time, no matter what. I cannot afford to love anyone if I cannot love myself. I want to be loved for who I am. The fate may tell us that we were soulmates, but I was the one who’s in charge.”
“Wow, we have a couple fighting here,” one of Moirai voices was heard. “It was no use to wait by the tree for your answer. Our girl, Gillian was in charge now.”
“Wait, we are discussing. Give us a minute. There was a misunderstanding here,” Brian begged to the invisible voice. “We’ll find you by the tree.”
“We are everywhere, don’t bother to look for the tree. You made yours. You left her, remember? She had not any chance to make one. It’s her turn now. So what would you say, girl?”
I looked up to the sky. “It’s surprising to see how fair you are treating our past. What will you do with him if I choose to be alone?”
Three different voices were giggling. “Why do you care so much about him?”
“Isn’t it wrong to care for my soulmate? You were the one who brought us here.”
“Well, it would be just a dream for him. Business as usual. You know the part of Earth where you come from is resetting, though.”
“At first, I was scared to live alone,” I looked at Brian and embraced him. For once, he looked at my eyes deeply.
“But he reminded me that I was never alone. I have faith in The One, who’s always with me. I don’t believe in soulmate. Send him back.”
“Whatever. Enjoy yourself, lone wolf.”
The darkness fell and covered everything. My knees could not hold my weight.
“You’ll never get my people, Moirai, or should I call you fate?” A distinct firm and clear voice said. It was not a voice that I ever heard before.
“We’re not finished yet, Faith… You need to know the irony. Most of the people in the world have faith in me for what I arranged in their life.”
Moirai’s laugh was the last thing I heard. And the darkness knocked me down.