The door swung open and Julianne looked up at Cheryl’s blanched face.
“Did you hear?” Cheryl asked, nearly breathless.
“The ship…” Cheryl grabbed the remote from the armrest of the couch and clicked on the television.
“Since its first arrival in Newport, Rhode Island seven months ago, the spherical object that most believed to be some kind of space ship from an alien civilization has defied all attempts at communication, despite collaboration from the world’s top scientists. Now, without any warning, it has departed our world as inexplicably as it came.”
“Frickin BBC,” Julianne replied. “Who says ‘inexplicably’ on the news?”
“But it’s gone!”
“Yeah, imagine that,” she agreed, then shrugged. “Well, at least we know we’re not alone and all.” She reached out and snatched the remote.
“But…but…why did they leave?”
“We don’t know there was any ‘they’ at all,” Julianne countered. “It could’ve just been like a robot probe or something. You know they were always saying that on the news. God, this means we may actually hear about something else on TV for once. I mean I have no idea what Justin Bieber’s up to because all that’s been on TV is ‘the ship this’ and ‘the ship that.’ I mean, Jesus, it’s only one space ship. If they were blowing up stuff, maybe I could see this kind of coverage.”
“But…” Cheryl continued to stammer.
“I mean, CNN, sure. But E? E is wall-to-wall spaceship coverage. Come on, that’s just stupid. This is why we have different cable channels after all.”
“I just don’t understand. Why did they come? Why did they never talk to us? Will they ever come back?”
Julianne shrugged again, flipping channels. “Jesus, I’m wrong. Look, all they’re going to talk about now is ‘why did they leave.’ It’s like a nightmare.”
“I want to know. I want to know why they left!” she shouted. Julianne fell silent for a moment and raised her eyebrows. Cheryl flopped down on the sofa and looked toward the floor.
“Ask them, geesh.”
“We did, didn’t we? We asked them all the ways we could think of. Do you think…do you think they’ve judged us unworthy? Did we do something wrong?”
“There was that guy who tried to throw a tomato at it,” Julianne responded with a snorting laugh. “Imagine that. He goes to all the trouble of breaking through security and all he can think to do is throw a tomato.”
“What did we do wrong?” Cheryl repeated, staring into her own hands. “They were here. They were real. And now…now they want nothing to do with us?”
“Oh, get over it! Ships go bump in the night. Maybe they just had engine trouble and they never wanted to be here at all. Maybe it’s a hoax. Who knows. What do you care so much for anyway?”
“It’s like they said on the news. It’s the biggest thing that ever happened in human history. How can the biggest thing that’s ever happened–”
“Mean nothing?” Julianne finished. “I guess you decide the answer to that,” she added. “Oh!” she exclaimed suddenly as she clicked the remote. “Walking Dead marathon! I love this show.”