She woke up afraid, because it was a Tuesday and for her Tuesdays were historically terrible.
It wasn’t every Tuesday. It wasn’t even most Tuesdays. But anything bad that had ever happened in her life had happened on a Tuesday, and now it had been fifty-two Tuesdays since a single thing had occurred. Rather than making her believe whatever sort of curse had been placed upon her had suddenly lifted, she knew this meant that the universe was building up to something.
The first time there had been a gap like this, she had thought the spell had been broken. This was nearly seven years ago, and that time the gap had only lasted twenty-four Tuesdays. She had only just figured it out, well, her husband had. What had they been doing? Talking and drinking, yes, but where? And when? In their backyard, sitting on mismatched beach chairs, giggling in hushed tones like a couple of teenagers except instead of trying to not to wake the parents they were trying not to wake the kids? Or down at O’Malleys, maybe, sitting across from each other in their favorite corner booth and waiting for another couple to be up for a game of pool? These were the things they were doing then. Could have been either. Or neither. Time had a way of making the edges fuzzy.
Whatever the details, the results had been the same. They had turned to talking of their life’s tragedies, as you do sometimes when you’re a little bit drunk, and she had brought up a day from when she was a little girl, the day her uncle had fallen underneath the thresher.
“I remember it was a Tuesday, because-”
“It was a Tuesday? Are you sure?”
“You said the same thing when you told me about the day your house burned down. And about when you realized you had to drop out of school.”
He was right, of course. Then they weren’t talking about their tragedies. Just hers. With the calendar app on her phone. Deaths in her family. The day her dog ran away, never to be seen again. Smaller stuff. The day she fell off her bike and broke her wrist. The day her car broke down, leaving her stranded on the highway for a couple hours. One thing after the other. Tuesday. Tuesday. Tuesday.
It meant she lived her life with an almost fatalistic energy for the rest of the week. Bad things happened exclusively on Tuesdays. When the economy slowed down it looked like her husband was going to get laid off and they tightened their purse strings. But then the factory announced (on a Monday) that they would tell everyone who was getting laid off and who was staying at the end of the week. On Friday. So they were able to relax, knowing he would not lose his job. Her children had all been due on not-Tuesdays. The last one tried to come early, though, the contractions starting around noon on a Tuesday. She had refused. Walked around their tiny house in tight circles while her husband watched, both of them whispering to the baby, telling him to stay in, to hold on, to wait. Five minutes to midnight she allowed her husband to drive her to the hospital and the baby was born ten minutes into Wednesday, crying for being held back but healthy.
The gap had started soon after that. Disaster didn’t come every Tuesday so it took her a few weeks to notice. She was at the grocery store, looking but not seeing the cereal boxes and thinking about applying for a new job at the bank. She thought, I can’t apply tomorrow, I have to wait until Wednesday. And then her mind idly searched for the last bad thing that had happened on a Tuesday, and by the time she reached the frozen foods aisle she realized she had to go back over two months to the Tuesday she had dropped the gallon of white vinegar in the kitchen and it went everywhere and everything had smelled of vinegar for two weeks. Nothing since then. And that time, she really did believe it had been over.
It hadn’t been, of course. The universe had merely been contracting. Was it giving her a break? Letting her heal, mentally and emotionally, before winding up with a haymaker? Or was it more like a tsunami, those big waves she had watched a thing on TV about. The water goes out to sea first, but only to gather in strength before crashing back down. One theory suggested a living universe making conscious decisions, the other a universe functioning like a mechanism. She wasn’t sure which was scarier, and on that Tuesday, that twenty-fifth Tuesday after twenty-four with nothing bad, when she was sitting at the table watching the news of the school shooter unfold, she wondered vaguely which was scarier. For her oldest son, it didn’t really seem to matter.
This was why, on this Tuesday, she was more than just afraid. She was filled with a near-blind panic. Twenty-four Tuesdays where nothing bad had happened had ended with the death of her son. Now it was fifty-two. More than double. A whole year. Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. The idea of getting out of bed was dizzying. It was affecting her husband, too. After all, he was the one who figured it out. He had nearly left her, after that twenty-fifth Tuesday, and only stayed because she pleaded, begged, cried. It wasn’t her fault it had happened, she had sobbed into his lap. Only her fault it had happened on a Tuesday. Thankfully, he agreed, and was downstairs now, while she cowered in bed, making a cold breakfast because he was afraid of turning on the gas stove.
She came downstairs and he wasn’t in the kitchen. He was on the couch. The TV was on. He looked like a fish.
“…which NASA has dubbed ARC4985, is roughly twenty miles across. This is…uh…this is twice as big as the asteroid said to have ki-…excuse me. Twice as big as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Now, I want to stress that NASA is still not sure if it will…if it will…if it will hit the Earth. They made this very clear in their press conference this morning, they are not sure. There are still calculations, I guess. Dr. Brummer stated they will have definitive answers by Friday.”
They breathed a sigh of relief. Friday. Not Tuesday. They almost started crying, realizing they had been clutching each other.
“Dr. Brummer did state, though, that the asteroid will either pass us by or…or collide a week from today.”
She breathed again, and felt a numb relief. The rest of the world still had to wait some days to find out if the end was near. But now she knew, and could avoid that ugly feeling of uncertainty entirely.
After all, a week from today was another Tuesday.