Corinne Cox is an NYC resident and a graduate student of the English Education program at Columbia. She also, in a former life, was a beloved student of mine the quarter I taught at UC Santa Cruz. She sends me the following sad and sober tale:
Kate had been one of my best friends since we met while writing for our middle school newspaper. Now that we were a couple years out of high school, we could no longer bond over photoshopping the vice principal’s neck out of his yearbook pictures or conspiring to turn delegates against their countries’ own policies at Model United Nations conferences. We were running out of common ground.
Kate still lived in her childhood bedroom, which was unchanged from when I had met her. She had recently found Jesus and, through him, moderate-conservative politics. I had moved to a seedy studio apartment in our hometown’s neighboring metropolis to attend community college, where I had found an abundance of vice. Kate saw me as someone who had left the flock, while I had come to regard her as someone who buried her head in the sand.
We sat silently in Kate’s car after a strained lunch in which we had slogged through our usual list of safe conversation topics. I pretended to be entranced by a text message while Kate half-sang along to a pop song on the radio that she didn’t know the words to. Then Kate pointed at something excitedly, and I followed her finger’s trajectory skyward.
A pristine white dove sailed above us against a backdrop of cloudless blue sky. Kate marveled at it, praising its rarity and beauty, proclaiming the dove to be a blessing and a sign of good things to come. Then came our simultaneous realization that the dove was gliding along an invisible hypotenuse on course to intersect with the speeding yellow Hummer in front of us.
The result of the impact between delicate bird and massive, velocious machine was an explosion of a thousand white feathers that filled the air, some falling gently upon Kate’s windshield. Kate was only able to squeak in horror at the indignity that had befallen her blessing; I erupted into a fit of unhinged laughter and only managed to compose myself when the intensity of Kate’s disgusted glare became too much to endure. Still shaking her head, Kate dropped me off at my parents’ house, never to speak to me again.
I am grateful to the dove that floated so elegantly into the path of a behemoth that brought it to a swift and violent end. The extinguishing of its own life euthanized a long-dying friendship, a necessary conclusion brought on by the hardships of birds.