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I Found You

By Damaris Chanza

It all started with a childish game of hide-and-seek. I may not have known then I was playing, but ultimately that’s what it was. For such a small apartment, there seemed to be so many places to hide. You’d think with five people, three dogs, and two ferrets all living in a one bedroom apartment, finding a good hiding spot would be an impossible task. And yet I searched endlessly. I can’t remember how many times I looked through the entirety of that apartment. I probably became frantic at some point. I don’t remember how long I spent playing this game or even why I started playing.


Then I found her. Kipsey was hiding behind the living room door.  My little old black and white cocker spaniel was lying in her own urine barely breathing. Her whimpers were so weak they were barely whispers. The game was over. 

I did what any kid in my position would do – I called my parents. I know my two younger siblings were there, but I have no idea what they were doing. I don’t know what they did when I found Kipsey or even how they reacted. I'm not sure if I checked on them to see if they were okay. I know I wasn’t okay. I guess that wasn’t my best big sister moment. 

I don’t remember much else from that day, just some nonsensical fragments. I remember the living room door being locked as I paced mindlessly in the kitchen. I remember standing on the patio as someone dug a hole in the garden. I remember someone wrapped Kipsey in her favorite bright yellow blanket so that we couldn’t see her body as she was carried from the house to her grave. Kipsey’s previous owner gave her the blanket as a puppy and gifted it to the shelter when she couldn’t take care of her anymore. It was rough and had giant holes in it. 

I must have been surrounded by family that day but I only remember being alone. I remember seeing white butterflies flutter across the patio as if they were chasing each other around playing their own game of hide-and-seek. I know I probably cried a lot but I don’t recall shedding a single tear. At some point throughout the day, my dad placed his hands on my shoulders and said: “You look like a zombie” and convinced us all to go to the movies.

That makes sense, right? Distract your children from death. Make them forget. What movie did we watch? Maybe my siblings remember. I’ve never asked them about that day. We were all just kids, but I was 14. Shouldn't I remember more?

I think about that day pretty often. Each time I hope I will remember something new but nothing comes up. It’s always the game, the blanket, the butterflies, and the movie. For some reason, the white butterflies fluttering across the garden, is the most vivid memory. Now, whenever I see a white butterfly, I like to think that it’s Kipsey continuing our morbid game of hide-and-seek, letting me know she’s still walking alongside me everywhere I go. 

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