“It’s just after midnight.”
“Mmph.” Jean turned over, pulled a pillow over her head. After a minute, she sat up, reached for the bottle of pills and the near-empty glass of water waiting on the nightstand.
“You’ve already taken three. They’re not working. Anyway, it’s too late.”
She looked at him for a long, weighty moment; she put the pill bottle down, but finished the water anyway. “What time is it exactly?”
“Twelve ten. Twenty more minutes.”
“They said yesterday that the time might change as it got closer, that—”
“I’ve been looking at my phone. They’ve redone the math every half hour for the last two days. It’s still twenty more minutes. Want something to drink?”
“On top of the pills?”
“Never mind.” Frank got up, went to the window, stuck his fingers between venetian blind slats, pushed them apart. Down the street, in one of the few houses still occupied, there was a party going on. “They’re still at it.”
She shrugged. “They’re young.”
“I just don’t get it. Why spend your last hours drunk and listening to bad music? It just—”
“We spent most of yesterday fucking.” She grinned. “To each his own.”
The clock said twelve thirteen. He pulled the chord to raise the blinds, unlatched and opened the window, stuck his head out to look skyward. There was no moon. He felt a pang of fear, then remembered that he had no idea where the moon should be tonight.
“What does it look like?”
“Like stars circling a drain.”
“The stars? But they’re not close enough to—”
“It’s called ‘gravitational lensing’. Some guy was talking about it on CNN last night. The anchor was uncomfortable because the guy seemed… I don’t know, excited about seeing it. They shut him down and went to a pre-taped story about the Pope.”
Jean was at his elbow, and he moved out of the way so she could look. “Pretty.”
She was still naked. He kissed her shoulder, the side of her neck. He looked at the clock: twelve eighteen. “Want to go again?”
“Seriously? All right.”
They made love. Frank tried to lose himself in her, or in the act itself, but never quite managed. In the end they conspired to finish for it’s own sake. She was sweet about it. They looked at the clock: twelve twenty-one.
“Was that really only three minutes? It seemed like…” He didn’t say ‘forever’.
“No way.” But her phone, his phone, the clock on the DVD player, all agreed: twelve twenty-one.
They turned on the TV. The guy who had been excited about gravitation lensing was talking about time seeming to slow. It wasn’t just them. The guy wasn’t sure whether it was some black hole time dilation effect nobody had predicted, or whether it was eight billion people wishing the universe to stop before twelve thirty.
They ate something, then made love again. An half hour later, the clock turned to twelve twenty-two and stayed there. Eventually Frank unplugged it.