As Andy peeked through the most beautiful girl in the world’s window, he saw her smile the most perfect smile imaginable, and he knew that he had done the right thing.
At roughly 9:12 am Pacific Coast Time on Thursday, August 16th, the world ended. I should explain a little bit. It didn’t “end” in the sense that it came to some sort of natural completion. It just stopped. It really was the weirdest thing. Traffic lights all over the world lost all rhyme and reason, the NYSE kicked the proverbial bucket, and an inordinate amount of average, innocent human beings spontaneously combusted. It was quite comically tragic.
Many people around the world wondered what they could have done to cause the cessation of time. Guilt was universally experienced. Subway stations, airplanes, buses, and other forms of scheduled transportation had no idea when to arrive or depart. It was quite ridiculous that time would just stop. But it did.
You probably don’t believe me. I, too, would be skeptical. Whether you can comprehend the notion or not, though, it’s all true. And until some sort of solution was reached, it would be 9:12 am PT on the West Coast of the United States of America. It would be a perpetual nighttime in most of Asia and some of Europe.
Coincidentally, at 9:12 am PT on that exact same morning, a boy named Andy woke up. I am aware that since time stood still at 9:12 am, the boy could have awoken at any moment after the catastrophe and it still would register as 9:12 am. For the sake of the story, know that the boy awoke at exactly 9:12 am—the exact moment that everything ceased.
“The next day starts when you’ve officially woken up from the night before,” said the most beautiful girl in the world. “So midnight has nothing to do with the passing of days?” replied Andy. “Not at all.” “So if I go to bed at 4 am,” began Andy. “And I wake up at 8 am—”
“The day begins at 8 am,” confirmed the most beautiful girl in the world.
It was all Andy’s fault. He began to feel the guilt like everyone else felt. He didn’t do anything on purpose. Andy was a friendly boy. He enjoyed sports and loved to read. He was chillingly cynical and believed that the world he lived in was one of absurdity and grace. He rarely made excuses for his mistakes, and he hated breakfast food. In fact, this is how he came to learn that time had stopped.
“I’ll have a French dip sandwich, please.” “I’m sorry,” said the smiling waitress. “We don’t serve that until lunchtime.” Andy was perplexed. “Is it not lunch time yet?” “Not yet.” He looked at his watch. 9:12 am. “Hmm, what time do you have?” he asked the waitress. “9:12 am.” She answered. This couldn’t be, thought Andy. “But I woke up at 9:12 am.” “I’ll give you another minute.” The waitress uncomfortably shuffled away. “But I hate breakfast food.”
“I’m going back to my ex-boyfriend,” said the most beautiful girl in the world. This didn’t quite make Andy cry, but he wanted to. He looked at her, puzzled. “Did I do something wrong?” “No. I just still love him. I need to go.” Andy understood. He was also understandably sad. He loved the most beautiful girl in the world. She loved her ex-boyfriend. Her ex-boyfriend loved her. Andy was dealt a bad hand. He knew it was something that he must live with though.
“It’s okay, darling. It really is,” he reassured her. He tried to put things into perspective. “It’s not the end of the world.”
The most beautiful girl in the world called Andy. This happened at 9:12 am, of course.
“Did you notice something weird today?” she asked. “Do you mean about the world ending?” “Yeah.” “Yeah, I noticed. I guess I was wrong,” confessed Andy. “I guess so,” she replied. “How do you plan on explaining this to everyone in the world?”
“I hadn’t thought about it, yet.”
As the minutes should have passed, the most beautiful girl in the world became more sad. She was still beautiful, but she was crying now. Andy arrived at her house that night around 9:12 am.
“I think I know why the world stopped.” The most beautiful girl in the world would not look at Andy. She just cried. This made Andy want to cry. “I’ve been irrational.”
Andy leaned forward and kissed the most beautiful girl in the world on the forehead. This made them both feel comfortable. Not perfectly comfortable. But better. “I know how I can fix everything.” He took the moment to let go of her. To let go of his selfish feelings. It was not easy, and it didn’t happen all at once. But he made the effort for himself, for her, and for the rest of the world.
The most beautiful girl in the world could feel the change. “Hold me,” she said. And so Andy held the most beautiful girl in the world one more time, for the entire night.
Andy woke up the next morning feeling at ease. He turned to his right to see that the most beautiful girl in the world was still beside him. He smiled. And he loved her. He looked at the clock. 9:12 am. Hmm. He stared at the clock for exactly 52 seconds. It changed to 9:13 am. He had taken a step back. His love for her had not diminished. She woke up and looked at the clock. She smiled at Andy.
“Thank you, Andy. I do love you.” “I love you, too.” The words both healed and hurt. The pain was constant, and the closure was sobering. He squeezed her. She squeezed back.
As Andy prepared to leave the most beautiful girl in the world, he knew he would miss her. He smiled, even though it was hard for him. They embraced for what seemed an eternity, and then Andy walked away.
He hoped she knew that he would always love her.
And strangely enough, the world kept turning.