When Taina left for the party she thought her life stretched out before her endlessly. Her future was so bright she would’ve considered wearing shades had she been old enough to catch the reference. That was, however, before the party.
It started well enough, as parties go. The music was loud and obnoxious, the beer crappy but drinkable and the people friendly but not handsy. Jeremy always threw a good party. If he had one skill, that would have been it.
Bill was in rare form in the center of the living room, dancing his fool head off. Near him, Taina noticed, stood Carl looking glum. Carl, Bill’s boyfriend, found himself embarrassed by Bill’s dancing. Taina gave them maybe three months before the relationship exploded into unpleasantness. She grabbed a red plastic cup of beer and kept shifting and edging her way across the room.
“Hey, watch it!” a voice chirped in Taina’s ear. She muttered an apology and looked over to see whose foot she had stepped on. Beth. Of course it was Beth. Beth who stole Taina’s last boyfriend. Beth who always seemed to be where Taina didn’t want her. Beth who looked angrier than ever. Worse yet, she sparkled. Taina bit back a Twilight joke, knowing Beth wouldn’t appreciate it, and tried to keep moving.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Beth asked, grabbing Taina’s arm.
“Uhm?” Taina asked, not quite sure if it counted as a response.
“You spilled my drink!” Beth said, tugging Taina’s arm hard. Taina wrenched her arm free and sighed.
“Sorry, Beth. I’ll, uhm, get you another.” The glitter that covered Beth was a mix of gold and red. bits of light caught it and Taina looked away. She changed direction and headed to the table near the keg. As she reached for a cup, Taina noticed that some of Beth’s glitter had rubbed off onto her own sleeve.
“Isn’t that always the way, with glitter?” she thought as she brushed at it. The glitter seemed to simply spread, flecking onto her hand but staying on her sleeve as well. Taina gave it no more thought and brought Beth a replacement drink before moving off into the party and having a good time.
When she got home, much, much later, Taina showered and changed for bed. Her hand, she noticed grimly, still carried glitter on it. No matter how much she scrubbed it just seemed to stay, multiply even. Her arms sported patches of the stuff now. Tired, and slightly drunk, Taina decided to deal with it in the morning.
When she woke the bed shone with tiny red and gold sparkled. So did Taina. Her face, arms, pajamas, legs… Taina glittered. There was no way, she reasoned, that there could be that much glitter around. Beth touched her for a minute, maybe less. It wasn’t as if they had rolled around in a glitter factory for an hour. But the proof was there. The glitter had only grown.
Scrubbing herself raw, Taina started to cry in the shower as the glitter just spread and spread. Giving up, she dressed and went to work. All day, everything she touched, glitter seemed to smear around Taina’s entire universe. Flush with anger, she dug up Beth’s number and called her.
Voicemail. Of course. She left an angry message asking about glitter, a message she was sure sounded insane, and went to lunch. Her salad tasted off, a bit crunchy in a way that it wasn’t supposed to be. Taina spit a mouthful out into a napkin and saw that it glittered.
A curse formed and built in her throat. But instead of invective what came out was a cough. Followed by a second. Then a third. Taina’s eyes ran and she looked at the hand she covered her mouth with. Glitter. She was coughing up glitter. How was that even possible?
Running to catch a cab, she hurried to a hospital, feeling both scared and utterly ridiculous. As she entered the emergency room the feeling of fear took over completely. Everyone in the square white room sparkled with red and gold flecks. Even the air in the room itself seemed pregnant with glitter. A nurse, glinting with the rest of them, coughed as she handed Taina forms.
Outside a screech, rending metal, and screams sounded. People ran to and fro. Taina hurried to the large glass doors to see what was going on. A cab hit the side of a bus, and glitter poured from the engine. The city leaked glitter. Every person carried it with them, some more than others. It coated buildings, and vehicles, pigeons and dogs and trees.
Taina sank to her knees coughing up larger and larger amounts of glitter with ever attempt at breath. Her final thought, as her eyes closed for the last, gritty, glitter-filled time was that the Earth wouldn’t end with a bang after all. Only a fabulous whimper.