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  • Oonark
  • Elizabeth Altomonte (bio)

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[End Page 124]

What she would remember, when she saw the dog thrashing in the Sound and the disarticulated body parts of her husband and daughter trawled up from the wreckage of the Magister, was Oonark. She might have remembered the wedding guests she had stranded, her daughter to be married in the afternoon, with still so much to get settled: the bridesmaids moaning over hems and tightened waistbands, the florist complaining that the lacy overlays did not match the ivory hydrangeas and the event planner unable to find the cash box for the money, for the money—the newlyweds were in their twenties, and [End Page 125] they had nothing, after all. And the gin wasn’t right, said the bartender, the in-laws wanted Bombay Sapphire and the grandmother swore by Beefeater, what was there to do, what was there to do?

And then her husband demanded one last ride in the air with his daughter, in the Fouga Magister, only hours before the ceremony, before his daughter became another man’s. It would be just a little spin, no barrel rolls or Immelmanns, in his Magister; why, he’d only just procured the vintage airplane, and he wasn’t sure if the Magister could handle maneuvers such as those. And her daughter said not to worry, the air would do her good, and the dog should come, the dog should come! the dog who loved the roar of the engine and the feel of great speed upon her frame, her majestic leonine great frame.

And after an hour, the call came through, when the bandleader was doing a run-through of the Louis Armstrong song, testing the amplifiers of his sound system. Someone approached her, the reverend, and clasped her hands. She didn’t like anyone touching her hands, they were her hands, after all. There must be some dignity left, something left of her, on the day she was to lose her only child, to be wedded. And when the reverend said, Your husband’s plane has gone down in the Sound, she thought, Why, such a silly thing to say, Your husband’s plane has gone down in the Sound.

And before she knew it, a LifeStar helicopter appeared on her meadow, where there was only alfalfa growing before the white pole tent had been erected, and wedding guests who had arrived too early, the kind of friends and relatives who habitually arrived too early, to lend a hand they’d said, when they were only nosy, to be invited to an event such as this! And these guests who had arrived too early were now witness to the monster on the meadow, and they must have thought the helicopter was part of the wedding, part of the elaborate spectacle, until the helicopter ascended from the meadow.

The LifeStar helicopter ferried her to the Sound, because the LifeStar pilot knew her husband, and he thought that with any luck he might be bringing her husband and daughter back, alive, to the hospital. But when they arrived at the Sound, there was only the dog, thrashing, thrashing, in the ocean. It was a strange sight, to see her dog in the ocean, for despite living only an hour from the sea, she could not recall ever seeing her dog in the ocean. And of course, the dog would have taken to the ocean, the dog was a natural swimmer in the ponds and streams and swimming pool on their estate. How strange it was to watch the [End Page 126] animal from up above, thrashing, thrashing, while the rescuers fumbled through pieces of the fuselage, pulling out legs and shoes and a torso. She could not fathom how it was possible to burn in the water, while the dog was thrashing, thrashing, the helicopter stirring up the waves, so at times the mammoth dog’s head went under. And as the helicopter moved lower to the waters, she saw that the pale fur of the animal was red, and the redness bled into the water, so the dog was...


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