Death by Drowning

by Allison Truj

The Pachyrhinosauruses died by drowning in a flash flood
in Alberta 70 million years ago. At the animatronic dinosaur
amusement park where I work, we’ve got these
robot versions of them and literally all they’re programmed to do
is moan into the rocks at their feet when guests walk by, like,
at least the T-Rex gets to roar and wag its arms and shit?
The Pachyrhinosaurus is used to this kind of double standard.
Is used to every single guest walking by thinking it’s the Triceratops.
Reads the sign that says, “Death by Drowning! Flash Flood!”
and knows it is so close to being a T. S. Eliot reference,
but it is not, the way that I keep finding boys
who are so close to loving me, but do not.
The Pachyrhinosauruses have the most concerned expressions
on their faces, rocks at their feet and no water in sight anywhere,
waiting for their own destruction that will never come.
When my boss isn’t around I tell guests
that they were the dumbest dinosaurs, just waiting
for the water to carry them away. I tell guests, “they didn’t know
that they couldn’t swim.”
Last night, I told my first ex-boyfriend Ian that
all I wanted to do was fall off the face of the Earth
like they did. We pile into his car, seven years,
three failed relationships with other people,
and the stick shift between us, our knees so aware
of their distance from one another, and pulled
onto the long sideways glance that is Interstate 78.
We just figured that if there was ever a road that led
to where the edge of the Earth meets infinity,
that road also probably leads to Allentown, PA.
He sings loudly and switches lanes without signaling,
and I am positive that I have finally discovered
the way I’m going to die. He says, “write about us
dead on the fork between Allentown and New Jersey,”
and I imagine them digging up my thickheaded skull
saying,“They didn’t know that they couldn’t drive.”
I was considering telling him that I still loved him
as soon as we hit the straight-lipped line of the horizon,
but we never reached it,
and I never tell guests that the skulls we found
had huge predator’s bite marks on them, that
what they were doing was escaping,
and isn’t it such a better story that they had a choice
whether or not to get what they wanted?
That sometimes three months go by
And the boy you never told you loved
Is dating a beautiful girl you know you’d love, too?
Isn’t “dumb” just another way to say “not quick enough?”
Isn’t this an easier story for me to tell every guest?
the Pachyrhinosauruses moan loud
and sad into the rocks at their feet.
I sit cross-legged, forehead pressed
against the fence, and mutter,
“I just don’t think that I can swim, either.” I expect
an answer but receive a whine instead.
They have been dead for 70 million years
before anyone I have ever loved has been alive,
and I shake my head at my feet, moaning.

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