Gone Forever

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The haze of midsummer flows interrupted onto the brown waters of the Mississippi River. Thandi grips the steering wheel to her car, like the ferry it is on will be thrown suddenly by the waves, tossing its passengers into the water. She turns up the A.C. in an attempt to break away from the heat. Not the heat of summer, but the heat of guilt that washes over her repeatedly with no sign of stopping. It’s a wave of emotion that pollutes rather than clears; building like plaque in an artery. Hesitantly, she removes her manicured, thin fingernails from the wheel, which are biting subtly into the leather. Usually, Thandi finds the smell and dark texture of the pelt coating the interior of her BMW relaxing, but the cool dark atmosphere doesn’t penetrate her mood.

Thandi slowly relaxes each thin finger until the third finger on her left hand isn’t being bitten by her engagement ring.

The guilt runs through her again in acknowledgement of the ring; unbridled from silence, it now roars in her ears in an indisputable timbre of slight sickness.

Slowly, she inhales and exhales, willing the calming smell of her car to enter her insides in vain. It feels as if her emotions are being pulled like a muscle, stressed by its hard work in determination not to release the weight it’s holding.

The monotone sounds of the ferry’s motor and the vibration running through it is muted within the car and somehow makes the pressure in Thandi’s head worse. Slowly, she slinks from the car deliberately, wary of the uneven metal flooring that she steps upon with tall heels. Even though she is on the boat, isolated from roads, she grabs her purse anyway, pressing the lock button on the remote. The dark blue car chirps in response, which has now turned into a regular sound during Thandi’s day. This is New Oreleans. Locking your car everywhere is mandatory. Locking everything is mandatory.

She walks to the shady side of the boat, her back to the cars. She watches the foamy dark water below her, and the city stretching out across the deep, luring Mississippi River. It’s a dangerous body of water, claiming lives and possessions as if they were its own.

Raising her chin and pulling her hair from her face, Thandi tries to enjoy the view of her home. Magazine Street and the highway are behind her. She cannot see her real address that she resides in though: the Garden District. Thandi always loved the exclusiveness of the lush dark green paradise; so different from the unclean French Quarter.

Thandi daintily opens her leather purse, and pulls out her most important tool for surviving her urban lawyer life: her iPhone. Completely flat and flawless black on the front, (aside from the single home button), the silver back of the rectangle curves gently into her palm. Swiftly, she expertly flips through a page of apps. This device is so vital to her: it holds her every key, combination, and important document. But now, she’s scanning through pictures, lazily moving a groomed finger across the unblemished screen. She pauses on her favorite familiar face: her fiancé …and his dog, a yellow lab named Kodiak.

The heat of guilt runs hotly and in fierce waves across her face to her equally groomed toenails that are encased in stilettos.

She knew Kodiak was her fiancé’s favorite dog, which really said something, considering he had many from childhood. He had explained to her that “it was a single guy thing” he had always grown up with. Thandi’s fiancé, Desmond, loved his dog, and she had thrown it in the street while he was in conference in Alabama.

Besides, she never liked Kodiak or any dogs in general. They were messy and loud—leaving fur and slobber everywhere. Thandi hated how they jumped on her, how they always needed attention, how they couldn’t be left alone during the day.

Thandi had lived in New Oreleans three years now, and she knew the ropes beforehand on how to get through the day without things getting stolen or hurt. “Stray dogs never survived long,” was one of the unspoken facts about the city. They wandered into busy streets with drunk drivers and crossed paths with angry armed thugs.

It was the dog in general that bothered her. She didn’t want to stand second next to the animal now that she lived with Desmond. She controlled everything about her life anyway, and that’s what had driven her to the verdict of throwing Kodiak out.
She held her phone, the sun shining on the photo of Desmond and Kodiak, the blinding light leaking the colors from the picture behind the glassy screen. A sweat broke out on her palms, her hair prickling uncomfortably and her stomach tightening in unnecessary adrenaline. Desmond would never know what happened to Kodiak, yet she would always have the memory of inconspicuously letting the door hang open just a few extra seconds, enough to let the dog trot through the threshold and into the yard…

For a moment, the river below her glitters, as if it was a child with intuition sparkling in its eyes, that had just learned something quite interesting. And then, Thandi’s clammy palm cupping the reflective back of her phone slips and the phone fumbles across her thin fingers twice before sliding through the nothingness of the space. A column of air rushes through Thandi’s core, choking on her own breath, she leans over the edge of the boat, as if her legs won’t hold her.

The iPhone glitters as it slices through the air, as graceful as a diver. Then it splashes quietly among the frothy water, gone forever. Claimed by the Mississippi.

Thandi feels as if she can’t move, yet her legs move automatically towards the place that the phone has dropped. It’s invisible now, sinking to the bottom of the river. She pauses, horror running over her, instead of guilt. She can almost imagine the picture of her future husband’s dog slowly blinking then fading to black. Too late to do anything now. They were gone forever.





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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

ClaireB said...
Mar. 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm
that was really well written but sad! I don't understand how anyone could do that to a dog, but you made me feel like it was me who had done it!
 
thatclarinetgirl said...
Jun. 7, 2011 at 8:30 am
THis is beautiful. ut reminds me of things i have done wrong, especially in my recent past, thank you and keep writting on!
 
Eugene Miller said...
Jun. 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm
 The contrast between the organic grittiness of the river and glittering ephemerality of our modern world is well crafted and quite moving. What an auspicious start for this young lady.
 
Alison and Scott said...
Jun. 5, 2010 at 8:14 am
You have a way of making your reader actually feel what the character is feeling. Outstanding! 
 
Ricardeaux said...
Jun. 5, 2010 at 12:27 am

You are a quiet person they say --but maybe not-- perhaps it is just that you save those words for the sake of the art you give to us.

--Father

 

 
mmam said...
Jan. 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm
what a wonderful story! you are quite a good writer--keep up the good work. cousin marcia
 
<3 Elliri said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm
This is awesome and creative! Keep up the good work Stella. ♥ Love yah!
 
Claire said...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm
Very good! You have always had a wonderful way with words.
 
leahh said...
Dec. 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm
wow i'm proud of you, youre going to win! good luck sisterr :)
 
J.Octavian.R This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 30, 2010 at 11:07 pm
Incredibly well crafted. A simple plot so convinvingly brought out with such a depth of emotional exposition and such gripping descriptions. One of the best pieces I have read on here.
 
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