There’s a canal at the edge of the city.
As the sun hangs low on the horizon, a girl with glassy eyes sits by the water. There’s no quiet solace here, nothing to stop the throbbing in her head. Why not me? she thinks, and somewhere behind that; another voice, Do you remember when …? The girl stands up, walks along the canal, sits back down. Her mind swims restlessly; the birds sing early morning songs; water rushes down the canal like a train coming closer, closer, closer.
Do you remember when…?
When her sister got in the car accident, the girl was out with friends. She felt overwhelming sadness, then guilt, then anger. Now she simply hears voices and thoughts. Sometimes her sister talks to her; the same sentence stuck on repeat, Do you remember when…? When what? Most of the time, though, it’s her own voice.
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The water spits at her as she stands up again. It could have been me, the girl thinks. She wants answers. She wants to know why it was her talented, charming, beautiful sister and not her. The accident was so random – it could have been me. Why is she here, sitting and standing and walking and sitting again by the same canal every morning? There has to be a reason. She needs a reason — it keeps her blinking into the dark deep in the night, it’s all she can think about sometimes. Why is she gone? Why am I here? Why? Why, why, why?
She wants answers.
Pacing back and forth, the girl slips on the ledge of the canal and falls …
When it’s raining, there’s no one on the street to give food.
The dog lays underneath an unfurled awning of a bakery, watching feet pass by. Everyone is hurrying inside to escape the rain, and even the kindest eyes don’t stop. At one point, though, a little boy tugs his mother over to the dog and waves a cookie in front of his face. The dog tracks the cookie for a moment, then snatches it from the boy’s hand. Peanut butter. The boy starts crying, and the mother pulls him away, hissing something the dog cannot understand.
The dog is hungry again.
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It’s still raining when the man who owns the bakery comes out and rolls up the awning, tossing a slice of bread. The dog eats it too quickly. Hungry again. Then the dog is walking, cold and wet. On the inside of a window, he sees a woman petting another dog. Why? The dog thinks. Who decided that dog would be warm and loved? Why am I out here?
The dog finds an alley, lies down in a dry patch and thinks why? in black and white. He falls asleep wondering if his life is supposed to be empty stomachs and rainy days — if he has any control or this is simply it. The next morning, his thoughts lead him away from the city center. He means to go by a house where an old couple sit on their porch and bring him treats, but a crossing train stops him. He will be hungry today. Is it some twisted fate? the dog questions as the train forces him to move in the opposite direction. He finds himself wandering beside a violent canal, thinking, why?
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He wants answers.
Out of the corner of his eye, the dog sees something thrashing around in the water …
Pacing back and forth, the girl slips on the ledge of the canal and falls.
Out of the corner of his eye, the dog sees something thrashing around in the water.
The girl doesn’t know how to swim. She writhes in the water, blinks rapidly as the surface rises to become the ceiling and she’s holding her breath. On the ledge of the canal, the dog watches as the girl goes under. He waits for her to come up — waits, waits, waits. The water is white with turbulence, turning itself over and, maybe, too strong for the girl. The dog continues to wait; underneath the water, she tries to swim upward and fails.
The girl can’t breathe.
The dog jumps in.
There is no more wondering why. The girl does not think of her sister and the dog does not wonder about destiny. In an instant, the dog is dragging the girl out of the river, heavy with water. Do you remember when…? What? When what? An infinite possibility of answers. She is here, now, and the dog has just saved her.
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The girl coughs and sputters, feels the solid ledge with her hand. The dog shakes, looks at the girl and begins to walk away. Wait, the girl thinks and sits up. Wait, wait. She stands up, wobbles a bit, and follows the dog.