Matthew Burnside


There the dead jogger lies, and all you can do is look at him while rabbits stare . . .

Future A

It wasn't your fault. He came out of nowhere. Look around. See, everyone's still asleep in this neighborhood of lavish, blown up dollhouses. Of course they are, it's 2 a.m. Who jogs at 2 a.m.? Look, no one saw. No curtains curling in windows. Only rabbits, staring from freshly mowed lawns through the big darkness. Calm down. Look, this wasn't your fault. Really, who jogs at 2 a.m.? This is simple: this is not on you. Simple. This old man came out of nowhere. You're young. You have your whole life ahead of you. He's had a full life. Crawl back into your truck. Do it now. Don't hesitate. Shut the door. Twist the key, put your foot down and get lost in the night. Don't cry. You did the right thing. You saved your life tonight. He nearly stole it in a blink. It's called survival. Don't. Turn the volume up on the radio because noise will help. Time to live your life now. Don't. Stop checking your rearview. You'll make up for it with all the good you do. It was necessary. He came out of nowhere. It wasn't your fault. Now it's over. Once you get lost, stay lost in the night.

Future B

At least move the body from the middle of the road. Somebody could hit him again, make a mess. Take the legs and drag him into the grass. His phone and wallet that flew out, put them with the body. There. Now pick up the phone, dial 9-1-1. Tell them the intersection but nothing else. Don't give away too much. You shouldn't have to suffer for this. This guy was obviously suicidal, jumping out in front of your truck like that. For all you know you did him a favor. For all you know he crouched behind a bush for an hour, hunting for headlights, waiting for the precise moment to make his move. For all you know he had an unfaithful wife at home. Mountain full of debt. Terminal cancer. He was in a great deal of pain. You were merciful. You were his angel of death. Crawl back into your truck. Wave goodbye to the rabbits. Get lost, stay lost in the night.

Future C

Take the wallet. Kill the rabbits as to leave no witnesses. Crawl back into your truck. All your life you've been lost—might as well stay lost.

Future D

Check his pulse. You've seen it done in movies. Listen over his mouth. He's still breathing. Barely, but still doing it. Get his phone. Dial 9-1-1. Quickly. Tell him everything is going to be alright. Tell him you're so sorry. Tell him help is on the way. When he motions for it, give him the wallet. Open it at his request. Give him the picture of his granddaughters. Place it in his right hand. Tell him to stay with you. Don't die. Don't. Take his left hand into your own. Hold it. Keep holding it. Don't let go until you see the sirens. Don't. Wave to get their attention. Tell him help is here. Tell him he's going to be fine now. When the paramedics tell you to let go of his hand, don't let go until they make you. Sit on the curb like they ask you to. Mumble a prayer, even though you don't believe in them, under a pale streetlight. Will him to make it. Will it not for yourself and what may become of you but for his granddaughters, who will not understand. When the officer arrives, stand up. Face the music. Tell him the truth when he asks you if you'd had anything to drink this evening. Tell him all your life you've been lost. You don't want to be lost anymore. Crawl into the back of his car counting rabbits. There are five.


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