Alaska Young, reads the inscription on the headstone, as the world shrinks down to him and her—well, just him, actually, because her body's buried right goddamn in front of him—but all the same, he thinks he can sense her presence close by.
That's bullshit, dear Pudge, the Colonel would say, but "dear Pudge" believes quite the opposite.
There's just something in the way a cool wind is rippling the grasses that reminds him of the way her hair used to dance around her face in the blast from the air conditioner (when it was actually turned on, of course).
And the sweet smell of lavender, of daisies, of tulips.
And the quote that's engraved just below her name on the smooth marble: "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!"
"Straight and fast," he says, and then he's crying all over again, because her soft, lilting voice is dancing on the wind that he can't catch. Flying away from reach. Flying away from him.
And if this is what it's like to forget, Miles Halter doesn't like it.
So he sits in front of her grave, dragging on a Marlboro Lite, telling fairy tales—more to himself than to the fluttering spirit of Alaska Young—until the bottle of Strawberry Hill turns into vinegar and maple syrup again and he's certain she'll be branded onto his memory till the day he goes to seek his Great Perhaps and joins her—where he belongs.