The humidity wraps itself around the girl and boy like a snake until they are out of breath from running around. Sweat drips down both of their faces, making their skin shiny. They play for hours under the blazing sun, not paying attention to the scolding heat.

The girl, Rebecca, is wearing purple shorts with white polka dots and a black shirt with a floral print. Her brother, Michael, has on a plain black shirt and knee-length white shorts. He tried his best to dress like his sister. Michael and Rebecca are not just siblings, they are best friends. Unlike the typical brother and sister relationship, they do not argue, tease, or mock each other. Their connection is too strong to be broken in any way.

“Come on, Michael. Let’s go inside,” says Rebecca, hoping her brother will obey her orders.

But, of course, he does not. Michael shakes his head repeatedly with a mischievous smile on his face. Soon, Rebecca gives up. She does not mind staying a bit longer. Picking up the big, rubber, multi-color ball, the two siblings go back to having fun.

When Michael throws the ball far away from his sister, in another direction, Rebecca immediately runs after it as fast as she can. Finally, after following the ball for what feels like forever, she is able to pick it up and sprint back to Michael.

Suddenly, the nice, slight breeze that made the trees sway and the flowers dance just a few moments ago feels strong enough to rip the plants out of the earth. The sun that watches over Michael and Rebecca becomes nothing but a mound of yellow, orange, red, and pink dust that falls to the ground.

Bewildered, Rebecca looks straight into her brother’s eyes, while Michael does the same. The pile of bright-colored dust turns into a black powder that shortly covers half of the field Rebecca and Michael are playing on. Rebecca stands on groomed, green grass, while Michael stands on black powder.

The countless number of trees, flowers, and plants surrounding the field wither, the trunks and stems falling over to the ground. The flowers’ gorgeous, colorful, and mesmerizing petals turn into black dust. The trees’ once healthy and stunning leaves become dry and then turn into black dust. The plants’ green color turns into black, the color of the night sky, the color of charcoal, the color of ash, the color of sadness and despair. There is no more color, no more joy. Everything is black. Black. Black. Black.

But, there is still one part of the area that remains alive: the place where Rebecca is standing.

“Michael! No! No! No!” screams Rebecca. “Someone help!” she yells over and over again.

No one comes.

Rebecca closely watches the houses nearby fall apart into nothing. A small house with a cherry red door, white roses, and a swing set is attacked by the black powder. This is Rebecca and Michaels’ house. All of the memories behind those closed doors are disappearing as if they were never there. All of the pictures of Michael, Rebecca, their parents, and golden-retriever, Stanley, crack and fall to the floor, turning into nothing. This happens over and over again until the entire home transforms into black powder. When Rebecca realizes that her mom and dad are supposed to be home at this time, tears begin rushing down her red face.

But, Rebecca does not have time to cry. Her brother stands in front of her, petrified and scared for his life. All Michael wants is to be safe and protected, to feel Rebecca’s arms wrapped tightly around him. But when he makes any movement towards her, the dirt and grass instantly turn into black powder under his feet. He is stuck!

“Stay back, Michael!” orders Rebecca. “It’s too dangerous!”

He needs his sister more than ever at this very moment. As Rebecca is about to run to Michael, the area layered in black dust begins to crack.

What should I do? I can’t stand here and let Michael sink into the earth like everything else. But if I run to him, what will happen to me? Will we both die? Will we both convert to nothing? No! I can’t and will not let that happen. Without hesitation, I take a few steps off of the only green left in the field. I pick my head up when I hear Michael’s screeching voice.

“Rebecca, don’t! You’ll get hurt too! You need to stay where you are!” Michael shouts.

“I don’t care, Michael. You’re my brother. I can’t let anything happen to you,” responds Rebecca.

“And I can’t let anything happen to you,” says Michael, as his lips begin to quiver.

Thousands of thoughts take over Rebecca’s mind like an overflowing river.

Even if I live, I will be dead. I will feel dead without Michael. I will feel helpless and joyless without Michael. I will feel like nothing without Michael. He is only five years old, and he is why I get up every morning. He is why my face beams every second of every day. He is the reason I feel like me, and who would I even be without him in my life? Nothing. I would be nothing.

“I’m coming Michael!” shouts Rebecca.

Rebecca steps onto the cracking, black field and Michael also starts to step towards her until they reach each other as the world around them disintegrates. She smiles at him; he does the same. Just as Rebecca is about to caress her brother’s face, the entire field becomes black powder.

The whole world turns into black. Every soul is dead.

A century goes by.

On an extremely hot day, two siblings walk onto a big field only a few minutes away from their house. The young boy holds a ball, and his sister puts her arm around him. They are both so happy and content, the grin on their faces seeming permanent.

“Throw the ball, Nick!” yells the girl.

Underneath the well-manicured grass that the girl and boy are playing on is black powder.