Mom said, “Did you–“
Miranda’s stomach fell as the world shifted. A door-shaped rectangle of reality rolled down like an old window shade. Through the portal, reality fell away.
The door had it’s own gravity, like the whole world was tilted toward it, like she’d fall in if she even moved.
Through the door was just sky, disturbingly bright blue, dotted with fluffy clouds.
Mom squeezed Miranda’s shoulder. “Okay.” She wiped her eyes with her palms. “Okay, okay. Time to go.” Her breath came out in short gasps.
Petty immature thoughts flashed through Miranda’s head. She’d tug the string and close the door. She didn’t care about the world. She didn’t care about anything except holding onto Mom until everything ended.
Cindy’s dads struggled to stay standing against the gravity shifts. As they swayed, they leaned protectively around Cindy. Miranda had promised to protect Cindy’s dads, to protect the world as best she could, no matter what.
Maybe growing up meant sacrificing for other people. She tried not to cry, but tears dripped off her jaw. She wiped her nose.
Mom turned and grabbed her, sobbed onto the top of her head. “I’m so sorry, hon. If I had known it would to lead to this anyway, I would have done better with the time we had.”
Miranda tried to say Mom did the best she could. She tried to say Mom did everything right, but she just sobbed into Mom’s chest.
That moment could have lasted forever, for all Miranda cared, but the ground shook and Mom pushed her away. “It’s got to be now.”
She shook out her hands at her side. “Goodbye.”
The slightest leaning forward made mom fall toward the door, like the door held a vacuum sucking her in.
Miranda grabbed Mom’s shoulder with strength she didn’t know she had. Mom spun sideways away from the door. Miranda shot forward.
Mom screamed, “No!”
On the other side of the door the air was sparkling and thin. Through the rectangle, Miranda got a perfect view of Cindy pushing off from her dads, reaching out to Miranda.
Miranda yelled, “Love you bo–“