Last Light
Author:M. Pierce

But maybe I could. When I ran like this—dead runs late at night—I left behind the nauseating unease of Hannah’s absence. I stopped picturing Hannah and Seth together, and I stopped trying to work out the logistics of their romance.

 

I reached the point of exhaustion, and then I pushed myself harder. And when my limbs felt numb and my chest seemed ready to explode, I smiled.

 

Here we go, I thought, I’m going to collapse.

 

Except I never collapsed, and the effort left me feeling juvenile and stupid.

 

A streak of sweat ran into my eye, salt stinging.

 

I slowed to a jog and pushed back my hair. Everything’s going to be okay, I told myself. Then I imagined Hannah touching my face and saying, “Everything’s going to be okay.”

 

She left three weeks ago.

 

This wasn’t getting any more okay.

 

I passed the Hard Rock Cafe and a little Italian place and realized dimly that I was about to cross Fourteenth. I stopped. In the city lights and nighttime traffic ahead, I saw someone like Hannah walking. A trick of the mind, no doubt. I refused to give in to irrationality.

 

I turned and sprinted back to the condo.

 

I had one new voice mail from Nate. I checked the time—ten for me, midnight for him—and returned his call.

 

“Why aren’t you asleep?” I said as soon as he answered.

 

“It’s not that late. How are you doing?”

 

“Fine. I was running.” I sat at the kitchen island and fiddled with the AlumaFoam splint on the counter. I’d removed it to run. I barely wore it, in fact, preferring the pain in my hand.

 

“Running at night?” Nate said.

 

“Yeah. Running at night, not drinking, not drugging, not calling Hannah, not stalking her sister, not driving by her parents’ house. Anything else you need to know?” I felt instantly cruel for snapping at Nate, who loved me beyond reason.

 

Nate, of course, laughed good-naturedly.

 

“That about covers it,” he said. “You get some sleep, Matt. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah. You, too.”

 

I ended the call and took a quick shower. I ran the water cold.

 

Afterward, as I dried myself and dressed, I considered calling my old therapist, Mike. He would prescribe something to get me out of my head, and he would help me understand this dual anger and longing for Hannah.

 

Anger. She fucking cheated on me. With my fucking brother.

 

Longing. I miss her so fucking much.

 

Fuck.

 

I dismissed the idea quickly. I didn’t need Mike to hold my fucking hand.

 

I went out on the balcony for a smoke.

 

Denver was alive and alight. As I ashed my cigarette onto the street below, I glimpsed a flash from a parked car. I smirked and waved.

 

The car window slid down and a camera protruded. I smoked listlessly while the photographer got a few more shots. Then the car door opened and a familiar figure stepped under the streetlight: Aaron Snow. I would have recognized him anywhere.

 

I gave another little wave. He beckoned. I held up a finger—give me a moment—and put out my cigarette. I left the condo quietly and lit another smoke as I stepped outside.

 

“Matt Sky.” Snow advanced. “Aaron Snow with No Stone Unturned.” His eyes were bright. He looked no older than I was, maybe even a little younger. He offered a hand.

 

“Hello there, Snow.” I shook his hand. “Would you like a smoke?”

 

“Ah—” He lowered his camera. “Could I?”

 

“Of course.” I passed the pack and lighter to him. As Snow lit his cigarette, I noticed his hands were shaking. “It’s all right,” I said. “You know, I wasn’t myself last year.”

 

Snow puffed on his cigarette and coughed.

 

How strange, to be having civil words with Aaron Snow. In his articles and his pursuit of me, he gave an impression of cunning. Now he looked like a lost boy.

 

“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry; you’ve caught me off guard by coming down.”

 

“Caught myself off guard. Let’s sit.” I walked to the back of the condo and took a seat on one of the steps. Snow perched beside me. Waves of nervous energy came off him. “Calm down, would you? You’re making me anxious.”

 

Snow couldn’t meet my eyes. Improbably, I felt sorry for him, and now that I didn’t hate and fear him, I thought I understood him. He was a young journalist trying to make his way. M. Pierce presented a puzzle and Snow solved it. Then Matthew Sky disappeared: a new puzzle for Snow’s able mind. “You’re quite a journalist,” I said.

 

“Why did you come back now?”

 

“Off the record?”

 

“Of course,” he said.

 

“A girl.” I glanced up at my bedroom window, which was dark. The whole condo was dark. I should have moved out, but I stayed in that place full of things I bought to make Hannah happy. Now it was like an abandoned circus—all color and ornament, no laughter, no life.

 

And here I was, speaking calmly with the reporter Aaron Snow—not because I was lonely, but because I had no fight left in me. Snow seemed to sense it. We watched one another through the dark, and he appeared defeated rather than elated.

 

“A girl,” he said. “I guess there’s always a girl.”

 

“I suppose so.” I turned on the stair to face Snow. “Don’t you have more questions?”

 

“Many,” he said. “On the record now?”