Toxic - Chapter 14
“dog pt. 2” (January 17)
Sierra suspected Ted would be home soon. She had just taken a series of photos of herself in the mirror of Ted’s ensuite (better light), wearing a graphic tee which advertised The Spa and high-waisted denim shorts. She was smiling in the photo, hash-tag-the-spa, having drunk The Guru’s proverbial Kool-Aid (an idiom implying there is ever a non-proverbial, literal, Kool-Aid; Sierra had never actually consumed Kool-Aid and you can’t buy it in stores). She posted it and felt a rush of adrenaline that was not matched by any other aspect of Sierra’s daily life. Sierra eagerly read, and tacitly agreed, with essays and think-pieces about the toxicity of social media for her generation (the nebulous millennial label); she nonetheless revelled in her daily dose of cognitive dissonance.
She dropped this train of thought as soon as Ted walked in, because he did so with such a manic energy that it actually frightened her.
Also, the dog was a surprise. Bony and ancient, it immediately found a place on the fabric rug she’d recently used to furnish the foyer, underneath the Brunch Feature Wall, to curl up and sleep deeply.
“This is Goebbels,” Ted announced, smiling.
“That’s its name?”
Sierra took a deep breath, trying to be mindful.
“Tell me how this has happened, Ted. Please enlighten me on the sequence of events that led to this dog being in our shared apartment.”
“I thought you’d be happy. You were so sad about…”
“Amble? Amble died a year ago! I have grieved and moved on. He was just a dog. I don’t believe you did this for me, Ted.”
Ted clutched at his chest melodramatically.
“This was a purely selfless act,” Ted retorted.
The dog coughed. It almost sounded human.
“I live here too. You can’t just spring a dog on me. There’s no space.”
“He weighs like four kilograms! It’ll be fine!”.
They were arguing now. (Ted had been spiralling for days, over Donald, and Sierra had seen it before. This was different, though. Pathological. Sierra felt a sudden urge to leave.)
“I’ll move out,” Sierra shot at Ted.
“You can’t, the doctor said.”
“Are you seriously implying I’m the only thing keeping you alive?” she asked.
“Where will you go? Mary’s? She lives in Caboolture! Good luck with your commute,” Ted spat.
“Alicia has a spare room; I could ask her.”
“And if she says no?”
“Fuck, I don’t know, Ted. I’ll figure it out. I’ll move in with randoms or rent a cheap place further from the city. I can’t be here.”
Ted walked to the couch, nearly tripping on the dog’s spindly legs, and sat, still imbued with a feverish energy.
“I’ve been thinking about leaving at the end of your lease anyway.”
She watched Ted take this in, not quite grasping it, too far deep into whatever kind of systemic nervous breakdown this was. Sierra made a conscious to distance herself from responsibility for Ted, knowing that he was toxic and that this ugly dog was his newest poison.
Ted didn’t say anything at all, as it turns out, and stood up, slamming the door to his bedroom. Sierra, left alone with Goebbels, watched him curiously for a moment. She never got a chance to ask about the name.