Chavi thought about how respectable Feivish looked in his black hat, which apartment she wanted, how she’d decorate it and which set of parents they’d go to the first Shabbos after the wedding. Not his, she decided, and meticulously cleaned her pinky nail before applying a stronger coat of polish.
“Chavi, you have a visitor,” her father called.
Polished to perfection, Chavi glanced at herself one last time and then happily descended the stairway to meet her possible future husband.
Suddenly, the lights went out. “Feivish?” Chavi called out in the dark, but nobody answered.
The lights flickered back on, and Chavi saw the room was empty. No table, no chairs, nobody. Where Feivish had stood, lay only a black fedora on the floor. “Mommy? Tatty?” she called—to no response.
Perhaps her parents were talking with Feivish on the porch? Chavi hesitated, then opened the front door. She looked far and wide—all the homes as far as she could see were gone. In their place was nothing but dust. Terrified, she ran back inside and shut the door. Maybe fumes from the nail polish were playing tricks on her mind? “Where is everybody, hello?” Chavi hurried to the phone– someone had to tell her what was going on. Only, when she picked up the phone, there was no dial tone. “What’s happening?” she cried out, “I have a date tonight!”
She heard a knock at her door.
“Who’s there?” she asked, angry that her date was cancelled. How was she supposed to get to date number eight, if date number six disappeared along with her entire neighborhood?
“Hey, anyone home?” a man’s voice called out.
Chavi bit her lip. A man. Uninvited. An uninvited man. Could she open the door? It was immodest to be alone with a man who wasn’t an immediate relative.
“Hey, can your hear me?” The man said, “I need help!”
Help. It was appropriate to offer assistance, she thought. “How may I help you?” Chavi asked, opening the door just a crack.
The man was not wearing a black hat. Instead, he wore a red T-shirt, blue jeans, and a white crocheted yarmulke with blue piping. Jewish guy—but obviously not so frum—he couldn’t be as pious as her, if he dressed like a common hoodlum. “Brooklyn—it’s gone!” he said, and gulped, as she watched his adam-apple bob up and down.
She imagined if she wasn’t such a frum girl, in another life, she might find him attractive. He was very tall, broad shouldered, a strong chin like on movie posters…. black curly hair falling a bit down his neck, his forehead…
Chavi looked away, ashamed that she noticed the fellow’s physical attributes. “I’m sorry, sir, that Brooklyn is gone, but I don’t know how I can help you.”
“Brooklyn disappeared! We must figure out what’s going on!”
“Figure it out,” Chavi smirked. “And then what? You’ll put Brooklyn back together again, Mr. Humpty Dumpty?”
The man moved closer to where Chavi stood. “We should start planning together how to survive.”
“Survive? God will help. What’s to plan?”
“We just might be the only two people left.”
“Maybe the whole world.”
Chavi flexed her fingers, and studied her nails. “I don’t see what that has to do with me.”
The boy stared at her. “You must be in shock,” he said, and approached the entrance to her house. “Let me come in.”
“Excuse me?” Chavi couldn’t believe the man’s chutzpah. “I don’t think so,” she said, and slammed the door in his face. The nerve! An uninvited, unrelated male, expecting her to let him in? Had he no manners? Chavi glanced at Feivish’s hat, suddenly aware that he wouldn’t be asking her out on date number seven.
Pounding fists on her front door interrupted her thoughts. “We might be the last people left on earth!” the man called out.
A huge tear sprung from Chavi’s eye. She picked up Feivish Feingold’s hat, carefully dusting off the debris around it. He’d never ask her to marry. Not him, nor the other boy next on the list. She’d never get to push a baby carriage on Avenue J, or even Thirteenth Avenue. The list was dust.
Chavi sunk down to the floor, sobbing, her head in her hands, as she cradled Feivish’s hat.
“The last ones! We should be together! Hey! Open up!” he yelled.
What a meshuganeh, she thought, a crazy person to interrupt her thoughts at such a time like this. How sad, there would be no more people after her. She cradled Feivish’s hat as she sobbed, and wondered if under the circumstances, she could lay the hat on her pillow beside her when night fell.