The can tumbled across the cobblestone, creating a shrill echo. Sylvi looked around for another can to kick; “Why are there always empty cans in the apocalypse?”
“Excuse me?” Berg wiped the dust from his glasses, more out of nervous habit than necessity.
Another kick. “In movies and TV shows”, Sylvi clarified, “there are always empty cans. I just wonder why.” Kick. “Why cans?”
Berg responded with a shrug.
“Not very talkative today, Berg?”
He sighed, “Maybe survivors eat canned things and just toss cans out because who cares if we trash the already-hell-hole we are currently walking through.”
Sylvi stopped mid-kick. Berg turned away, ashamed of his outburst. Kick; “An absence of survivors.”
“No”, Berg groaned, “don’t say that. Absence…”
“Here’s what I don’t understand, Berger Boy: in this situation you don’t try to find a specific person in a different town unless this person is your lover or child. You’re trying to get to your friend in Edinburgh? I don’t buy it.” Kick.
“I think you’re out of cans.”
“Who are you after, Berg?”
“I’ve told you.”
“Victor’s important to me.”
Berg stopped in his tracks. He fidgeted with his large walking stick. In return, Sylvi stopped, posting her bat on her shoulder. “Victor’s…uh…” She waited patiently. “Victor’s… my girl–boyfriend.”
“My boyfriend. Victor’s my boyfriend.”
“You almost said girlfriend.”
“It’s okay, dude. I was right that it was a lover, though.” She started walking on.
Jogging to catch up her, he said, “Well, you certainly take it better than others.”
“I understand complicated. That’s why.”
“Yeah…” Berg glanced at Sylvi. Her hard expression softened for a mere moment, and her brown eyes twinkled gold with thoughts of past happiness. “My wife died two months before the outbreak.”
Berg tripped. He wasn’t expecting to hear that. Sylvi helped him up. “You-you’re married?!”
“You were married?”
Sylvi raised her left hand, showing off a simple silver wedding band; “I didn’t wear this for fashion.”
Standing straight, Berg stared at her. The flannel. The combat boots. The softball bat. It was obvious. “I should’ve guessed before.”
“I’m not a lesbian, you stereotyping bastard.”
He snapped his fingers; “Bi.”
She swings her bat off her shoulder, scaring her companion. “I’m asexual. I don’t ‘swing’ any which way. Eleven years of knowing each other and four years of being married, we never slept with each other. I don’t dig it, and she was a lesbian who was petrified of sexual relations. We were in love without it. Are you satisfied?”
Tilting his head, Berg stated, “That’s more confusing than complicated.”
Getting angrier, she stepped closer to him threateningly; “Probably because you can’t get past your own head and your own complications to recognize the variety of the world around you.”
He backed up. She moved closer. “Syvli–”
“What is it, Berger Boy? Scared I’ll judge your relationship with your trans boyfriend like you did with me and my wife? You were so nervous to share you had a hint of queer in you, yet you pass a judgement when I share mine–”
“How did you know Victor’s trans?” Berg interrupted.
She sighed, turning away from him, “You almost called him your girlfriend. You keep saying ‘Victor’ rather than ‘he’. Seemed a little obvious.” Since the cans had all been kicked, Berg found an empty bottle to take his thoughts out against. “Are you ashamed of him?”
“Not at all”, Berg responded quickly, “Victor…he…came out a week before the outbreak. I’m still getting used to it. When he was Angela, his dead name, we dated for ten months. He started questioning and he realized he was Victor. A learning curve, but I’m trying.”
“So, you’re bi.”
“Excuse you, I’m pan.”
Sylvi laughed, “Good for you, Berger Boy.” She put her arm on his shoulder and kicked another empty bottle. “Lotta empty bottles in the apocalypse, too. Why?!”
“You glad we finally got your gender conversation in, Sylvi Sleevey?”
“Are you kidding?” she said, kicking another bottle, “We just talked about personal sexualities. We have yet to open that floodgate of opinions.”
“Maybe when we get to Edinburgh.”
“I’m sure Victor will have a lot to say about it.” She gave one final kick to a bottle, sending it soaring to an already cracked shoppe window. It shattered the window entirely, forcing the alarm to sound. A shuffled groan sounded in the distance. Berg took off running. Sylvi was not far behind; “How is an alarm still functional in the apocalypse?!”