Slow No Wake - By Dakota Madison
Moving is always difficult. Moving to another state is really difficult. And moving across the country is nearly impossible. I had a limited amount of space in the tiny moving truck I could afford to rent, so I was forced to prioritize the things I absolutely had to take from the stuff I could sell. Not an easy task with all the stuff I had managed to accumulate living in the same small town for the first 25 years of my life.
I snagged a gigantic garbage pail for the things that could be discarded. The first items to go into the trash were all the photos of my now ex-fiancé, Jeff. I took great pleasure in crushing the life out of them and tearing them all into little bits, just like Jeff had done to my heart. All of the gifts he had given me were also thrown into the heap. The stuffed bears, that had once been so precious to me, now looked cheesy and cheap. I felt a small twinge of guilt as I threw each bear into the garbage. I knew I should have donated them to Goodwill but a bigger part of me wanted to destroy them. There was something cathartic about the destruction process and that catharsis was exactly what I needed.
I also needed to escape. I needed to get out of the Midwest. I had always felt so at home in the small Illinois town in which I grew up and in which all of my family resided. Post-Jeff, I felt stifled bordering on claustrophobic. I felt like I could no longer take a deep breath. I realized the only way I was going to thrive again, or even survive for that matter, was to escape. I needed to pack up and start over in a place where no one knew me, and where they didn’t know about the awful ending to my engagement. I needed a place where I could heal my crushed spirit and broken heart.
I needed to escape to Florida.
The state always held fond memories for me. My grandparents retired to Naples when I was ten. Every summer thereafter, my parents sent Hannah and me, the person I used to call my sister, to stay with them for a few weeks every summer. The older Hannah and I got, the more fun we had on the beach, probably because the older we got, the more aware we became of the beach volleyball players, surfers and joggers; basically all the wonderfully tanned and toned guys with their shirts off.
Tanned and toned guys were just the things I now wanted to avoid. I was moving to Florida for what I hoped would be peace, solitude and celibacy. At least for a while. I didn’t want to swear off men forever, just for as long as it took to completely heal my shattered heart.
Being a well-educated person, with a Master’s degree, I probably should have known better than to rent an apartment, sight-unseen, over the Internet. As I stood at the front entrance to my new home for the next year, I wondered how the landlord had made the dump in which I now found myself residing, look so attractive online. He could have used some of the time it took to Photoshop the pics of the apartment to actually fix up the place.
Hans Decker handed me two keys to my side of the well-worn duplex. Well-worn was really too nice of a term. As a mental health therapist, I had a tendency to put a positive spin on things. Chalk it up to the rise in positive psychology: helping people to be authentically happy and achieve their full potential through learned optimism. If only it worked when dealing with my love life.
My new apartment was a shithole.
“No pets,” Hans reminded me in his thick German accent. “Those surfer boys next door are always trying to sneak in dogs. No dogs. No cats.”
I nodded. I knew I’d probably be working long hours at my new job so I had no intention of leaving a pet alone like that, even if I could have one.
Hans appeared to be in his mid-50s and had a bit of a paunch. His thick hair was completely grey and his skin was leathery, most likely from years of beach life and too much sun exposure.
“No parties,” Hans added almost as an afterthought. I didn’t think anyone could ever mistake me for the party type, maybe the librarian type. “Those