Good to the Last Drop 

by h. l. nelson


He looked to the sky, judging the time by the sun’s placement. Tweaking the wheel, he turned their rudder toward the east horizon. The sea was clear and calm and their boat glided through. He stroked her already honeyed hair. She smiled broadly at him. He thought her beautiful, even with dirt smudges. 


They had ditched almost all remnants of civilized life that somehow survived the downfall and set sail. But his laptop, her iPhone, they hung onto them. God knows why – the orbiting satellites had gone dark and silent once most of the population had perished. Lack of technology had been difficult, at first, but they had adapted. And they were knowledgeable, with their respective scientific training. That’s why they had survived when others had not.


It would take a while to kick their caffeine addiction. He laughed to himself, remembering their foray into the remains of a Starbucks, where they had found a French press and pounds of coffee. It had been their only luxury for…six months? It was hard to keep track. He imagined caffeine had seeped into the membranes of every cell in their bodies by this point. 


He glanced at the ruins behind them. The concrete and steel buildings were rubble; a thick layer of rock dust covered the entire coastline. Within months of the economic collapse and civil war, plants had begun to wind their vines through the devastated structures. Deer leaped across a broken billboard. They thrived in the city without people in their way.


Squinting, he tried to make out the billboard ad. His laughter startled the woman at his side. He pointed at the billboard.  Though it was crumpled on the ground, she made out a nuclear family in the foreground, standing in front of a large two-story home. There was dad, coffee cup in one hand, the other wrapped around mom's shoulders. Their son and daughter stood in front of them, all wide smiles and bright eyes. And the words: "Coffee: Perking Up American Families Since 1900.”


The remains of America moved farther away with each slip through the waves.