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Poles Apart



(Inspired by a Coventry Writers' Group prompt of "Write about a relationship between two neighbours.")

They could never physically meet. The eight and a half thousand-mile distance between these two closest neighbours that was once astronomical was now impossible, and it was the end of the world that had seen to that. Most planes that had been airborne during Armageddon now lay scattered around the cities and fields like discarded toys from some petulant gigantic child, and the fuel had long since dried up for the few that remained intact.

Both had thought themselves the last survivor, but both were wrong by a count of one. A freak coincidence of them both reaching out with archaic transmitters on the same frequency at precisely at the same time bore fruit, and the two had become remote friends. One message in a bottle clinking against another in an otherwise untroubled ocean.

The last two people on Earth, ironically stranded on either side of it, never to even see, let alone meet the other.

But they could speak, and, boy, did they talk. They’d chat and they’d laugh, and they’d mourn and cry long into the night, reminiscing about how beautiful, painful and silly the world had once been. Of the trivial things they missed; stroking random cats on the street, throwing a lost football back over a fence, the unplanned joyous evenings with friends where one glass of wine became six, to smile at enthusiastic dogs on their walks. Mundane then, but lost treasures now.

He would regale her with tales of what life had been like in bustling London, and she’d eagerly retort with stories of her antipodean exploits in New Zealand. A smorgasbord of simple pleasures, of young lives barely started.

But, even in a world without aims, it was important to set yourself goals. And this ambition – however lofty it might have appeared for some – became a no-brainer given the opportunity from the coincidences of their respective locations. And so it was, at lunchtime for one and midnight for the other, both armed with compasses but only one equipped with a torch, they each arrived at their defined and very specific geographical point.

Both reached into their bags – her, a garishly coloured canvas rucksack; him, a brown fabric messenger bag with a threadbare strap – and pulled out the sole contents, a single slice of processed white bread – an item once commonplace, now as rare as Hen’s teeth.

Both - handling the slice of processed yeast, water and flour with the reverence one might afford a religious artefact and the delicacy with which one might handle an unexploded bomb – placed their slice carefully on the ground in front of them.

For that fleeting moment, they felt connected. Without prompt from the other, each celebrated in their own way. Her, a screamed whoop of triumph – him, a shout and a fist raised defiantly to the Heavens, a firmament proven vacant over these last months. A cynic – were there any left – would claim the noises to be the equivalent to the sounds of trees falling in the empty forest, never to make a sound.

Yet, on an optimistic note - Society may have crumbled along with all its architecture and monuments, but the two of them had just created the last biggest sandwich the World would ever know.


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