“The Colonel was screaming. He would inhale, and then scream. Inhale. Scream. Inhale. Scream.
I thought, at first, that it was only yelling. But after a few breaths, I noticed a rhythm. And after a few more, I realized that the Colonel was saying words. He was screaming, “I’m so sorry.”
“And I said, ‘Oh God, Alaska, I love you. I love you,’ and the Colonel whispered, ‘I’m so sorry, Pudge. I know you did,’ and I said, ‘No. Not past tense.’ She wasn’t even a person anymore, just flesh rotting, but I loved her present tense.”