For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Passengers, Remain Calm”

Dan Chaon

Excerpt

“What do you think goes through your mind when you're going down like that? When you know you're going to die?”

“I don't know,” Hollis said. “But you know what I'd be thinking? I'd be thinking, ‘This is going to really, really hurt!’”

Wayne had laughed at that, and had told the old joke they both loved in childhood: “Q: What's the last thing that goes through a mosquito's mind when he hits your windshield? A: His butt.” And they'd laughed some more, full of beer and dumb camaraderie.

And it strikes him suddenly, a heavy blow. Wayne knew he was leaving, even as they sat there laughing and telling stale jokes. But he would never have told Hollis. Hollis can see himself as they see him, even as they are making their secret plans and living their secret lives. He is a distraction to them, an anger, too–he can see himself as Wayne saw him, full of earnest, innocent stupidity, chattering vacantly about the “weird things he'd noticed,” not someone who had ever really mattered. His cheeks grown warm, and he wishes that he'd responded to Wayne's question more seriously. What goes through your mind when you know you're going to die? He could have finally told Wayne about that kid, that kid whose corpse fell apart when he tried to pick it up. He could have said a lot of things. And maybe then Wayne would have respected him. Maybe Wayne would have told him the truth.

We read it in Among the Missing.