Miles calls his parents and tells them about the car crash. They pity Alaska’s parents and Miles realizes that only her dad is left. Miles gets off the phone and can’t stop thinking about Alaska’s dead tongue and dead mouth. He is afraid that he has lost something he needs and will never be able to find it again. He thinks about being without Alaska as like being blind.
Miles cannot reconcile the gruesomeness of Alaska’s death with the intimacy of their last moments together, and the two become intertwined in his mind. Nothing about this image of Alaska is appealing, yet he feels entirely lost without her.
The Colonel tells Miles that he spent the night memorizing the capitals of every country in the world. They decide to smoke in their bathroom but they can’t make the cigarette light. The Colonel throws the cigarette and screams about how impulsive and irresponsible Alaska was. Miles tells him that it’s their fault that she’s dead, and the Colonel agrees, but also says that they shouldn’t have had to stop her. She was like a child who needed constant supervision. The Colonel grabs his almanac and leaves to go on a walk.
While Miles seeks last words as a source of comfort, the Colonel turns to memorizing geographical facts. They each return to the traits by which they identify themselves in an attempt to find stability in an entirely horrific situation. The Colonel feels incredibly guilty over his role in Alaska’s death, but he is also able to detach himself enough from the situation to see how recklessly and stupidly she behaved.
Miles wonders if an instantaneous death feels instantaneous to the person dying. Did Alaska think about him before she died? Miles guesses that she was probably driving up to Nashville to see Jake. He wonders if he meant anything to Alaska, but he reassures himself that “To be continued?” must mean that he did.
Miles, on the other hand, cannot detach himself from the situation at all. Although he does not remember the last words Alaska said to him, some of her words are lasting, and they haunt him rather than providing any sort of comfort.
Lara comes to see Miles but he doesn’t know how to talk to her, because he feels like he’s in “a love triangle with one dead side.” Lara tries to comfort him again later in the day, but he turns and walks away. That night Miles has horrible dreams about Alaska’s mouth oozing with dead flesh and formaldehyde. When he wakes up, the Colonel still hasn’t come back from his walk.
While Miles and Lara’s relationship, passionless as it was, could exist when everything was right in the world, things fall apart after Alaska’s death. They have no real connection, so Miles pays her no attention. His romantic feelings clearly lie with Alaska rather than Lara.