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Dark Waters MAG
Thanksgiving night was the same as always. We had driven the three hours into a color palette of trees and mountains to reach our family getaway: a log cabin built at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range that overlooks a stream and 35 acres of land. The air is clean; pollutants from the cities are far from our tiny haven. This is where we always spent Thanksgiving. For some reason, I knew this holiday would not be like any other.
I awoke that morning to the amazing aroma of turkey, stuffing, pancakes, and bacon cooking. I helped finish the pancakes, making them my special way, and then set the table for breakfast just as my brother came downstairs and my father got home from a morning of fishing. My mom fed our year-old puppy Deeogee (pronounced D-O-G) and let him out as we all sat down to eat.
It was a good breakfast leading to a day of cooking. My mom and I prepared everything for dinner. She basted the turkey while I mashed the potatoes and made the biscuits. In the afternoon, my parents, my brother, and I got involved in a very heated game of Rummy and snacked on potato chips and my mom’s clam dip. We ate dinner not long after and finished the night with a movie and pie. I went to bed a very happy, and full, girl.
The next day, my brother and I rode our dirt bikes to the lake just for the thrill of it. It was too cold to go in the water, and the air was chilly, but the sun beat on our backs, keeping us warm. When we got hungry we rode back and I made turkey sandwiches for everyone. After eating I had a headache and lay down. I must have fallen asleep because when I opened my eyes it was four. My brother and father had gone out in the boat to fish.
My mom was doing laundry, so I decided that TV was a good option. By 5:30 it was getting dark and my mom was worried. They should have been back. We pushed any bad thoughts away until 6:30 rolled around. Now we were really nervous. They had walkie-talkies and my father had his cell phone, but they weren’t responding to our calls. We didn’t know what to think.
Twenty minutes later my father burst through the door in just a limp jacket and his underwear, bawling his eyes out. My younger brother, who was 10 at the time, came in right behind him, visibly cold, in just his wet boxers and also crying hysterically. Alarmed, the first thing I said was, “What happened?” That only set them off more. Through tear-streaked faces and between gasps for air, they blurted out that Deeogee had died and that the two men who were also standing in our kitchen had found my brother and father running along the dirt road from the lake.
All that I could understand was that Deeogee was no longer alive. My puppy that I had spent every day playing with and loved so very much was gone. I don’t remember what I did, but my mom says that I threw myself on the floor and cried until all the capillaries under my eyes burst from the pressure, bruising my cheeks. When I was finally able to get up, I heard the whole story.
It seems that after fishing, my dad had backed our truck to pull the boat out of the lake onto the trailer. Luke was in the front seat, while Deeogee had climbed into the backseat. As my dad opened the door and got out of the truck, it shifted from park into reverse. As it started to roll he desperately tried to grab the door to get back in, but he was too weighed down in three layers of clothing and waders. He hit the door and it closed, locking the other doors with it.
Luke didn’t know what to do when the truck hit the water, and started banging on the windshield and calling out to my father. My dad yelled at him to roll down the window and swim out. Just as the water reached the window, Luke was able to roll it down enough to escape. The water was about 20 degrees and deep where the truck was.
My dad told Luke to climb on the hood and take off all his wet clothes, so they wouldn’t weigh him down and make him colder. He did as he was told and watched as my father tried to coax Deeogee out of the fast-filling truck. Deeogee couldn’t understand and was afraid of almost everything, even his shadow, so he wouldn’t come out. Just as Luke pulled off his pants, the truck went under with Deeogee in it, threatening to take Luke and my dad too. Although was too late to save Deeogee, my father wouldn’t let his son die. He screamed for Luke to swim as hard and fast as he could while he did the same.
When they reached the shore, the truck was completely submerged. It was dark and very cold. They finished stripping off their clothes and, putting their heads down, wrapped their arms around themselves and ran sobbing toward the nearest house. Fifteen minutes later, a pickup came down the road. When the men saw how cold and wet my brother and dad were, they pulled over and asked if they needed help. And that is how they ended up at our cabin in next to nothing, shivering and crying hysterically.
An ambulance was called to check out my brother and dad. Had Luke stayed outside much longer he would have gotten frostbite, and my father ended up with a horrible cough for a month. They were lucky, though, to have escaped from the truck. Our new puppy drowned and was found in the backseat of the truck the following day when divers, a crane, and firefighters pulled it to shore.
It was hard to understand that our puppy was gone. My father had the hardest time knowing that it was his truck and his loose shifting that had killed our dog. We buried him near the path we used to get to the stream. Our truck was totalled, as was my brother’s dirt bike that was in the truck bed.
It has been six months since the accident. We have a new truck. It is hard for my dad to drive his car most of the time but he knows that, in time, we will need it to haul stuff back and forth to the cabin. Luke’s dirt bike lies in our garage, untouched since that weekend. It is rusted, and the back tire is flat.
We got a new puppy for Christmas, Deeogee’s sister, actually, and named her Lexee, which means “found a special hidden thing,” picked in memory of Deeogee. It was unbelievably hard to get another dog and not think of Deeogee, but he has a memorial right under our family portrait, and that gives me comfort.
Luke still thinks of Deeogee often. He wanted to name our next dog Deeogee too, but I told him that no dog could replace Deeogee and it would be disrespectful to give another his name.
I don’t know when I will be able to go to the cabin again. We now have two dogs buried on that property, and it is full of memories. Some say to forgive and forget. But I say forgive and never forget, for it is the good and bad things in life that make you who you are.