This is for Paul, specifically. But it is also for you.
The first time I read this story, I sat stunned for a couple minutes, then quickly turned back to the beginning and promptly read
the whole story over again. I was just as amazed the second time through as the first. I told Paul about it and looked it up
so that I could give it to him. When I found it, I skipped to the last page so I could read it again. As I was reading it, I had that
feeling you get along the back of your spine, that rushes up to your head, and makes your hair feel like it is trying to stand up.
As I read the last line, all I could do was laugh in awe.
It is the best short story I've ever read; quite possibly the best story. I am purposely not discussing the details of the story,
but it manages to pack the history of existence into 11 profound, frightening and ultimately hopeful pages.
Here it is: The Last Question.
I'm sitting in a big chair in the study area.
Some girl sits to my right,
some guy in front of me at a table.
He approaches and fumbles some words
out of his mouth,
something about sudoku.
His speech is strange.
I can't tell if it's an accent
or if he just speaks weirdly.
Either way, it's the most awkward
conversation I've ever heard.
She's obviously mildly annoyed,
he doesn't seem to get it.
He knows her from class already.
Chemistry or some such.
Both seniors. Same Major.
He's probably been eying her for
three and a half years.
She has probably never noticed him.
He persists, talking about classes and teachers.
She forces out some curt pleasantries
for about five minutes
before she pretends she needs to go somewhere.
She heads up the stairs to call her friends
about this weird guy who just started talking to me.
He walks away to the right,
not returning to his table.
Does he not understand?
Or is he about to cry, understanding perfectly?
I hate him.
I hate him because he is awkward.
I hate him because I fear I am awkward too.