Marie Antionette’s parents, along with a few dozen volunteers and police officers, are searching for Marie in the woods on the other side of the interstate.
An early-morning light streams in thin distinct beams through the treetops—glowing pale white in a group of volunteers’ lingering cigarette smoke. Marie’s parents have implacable tears rolling down their cheeks and are unknowingly bathed in the day’s first light.
Flyers of Marie are posted on streetlights and stop signs and unspoken condolences are drifting through the city: A cigarette stubbed with a particular delicacy (a gesture of tenderness); a silent self-conscious prayer on pursed lips; a fleeting thought at a red light; a pause while sending an email; a parent picking up their child from school and tightly holding their hand, asking about their day. All these acts are sifted through the prism of Marie Antionette’s absence. The entire city thinks she is dead. At the dinner table they say: ‘Poor girl’s parents’ and ‘Too bad about that girl’ and ‘You know what they say about missing persons cases after the first 48 hours’ and ‘Some sick fuck probably snatched her up’ and ‘God will bring her home.’
The flyer features a picture of Marie posing with her dog, Macaroni, in her backyard beneath daytime clouds beside her mother’s garden.
The local police department posts the flyer on the internet—a flattened, digitized Marie-image: another inconsequential addition to the ever-expanding internet-universe: Marie and Macaroni are embedded in the online God-consciousness, which is centered on and, concurrently, stretched beyond them. Comments on the post say:
--“So sad. My aunt is a teacher at her HS.”
--“Had her in class nd she was always nice and I hope they find her fast cuz if they don’t find her quick who knows what is happening we don’t even know where she is”
--“She prolly dead tbh.”
--“She’s been missing for 3 days!! Why didn’t the parents report sooner???”
--“Bro they reported her ‘missing’ after 4 hours she probably just eating dinner lmao.”
--“So many weirdos in this town someone probably grabbed her off the street SMH.”
--“Why does this happen so much? Tired of hearing about missing women.”
--“Damn, honestly, not to be weird or nothing, but she’s really pretty. I’d snatch her up (metaphorically) if I seen her! Hope they find her soon so I can take her on a date like a real lady.”
--“Guys. Marie was my friend...we had class together last semester. She was really sad. She stopped coming to class. I’m not really sure but she might have killed herself. Like she was really sad cause her dog died which is really sad and she might have done this to herself. Unfortunately.”
--“Happens all the time. Imagine what the family is going through. I work at Walmart and I’m always hearing about missing people.”
--“Hope she’s okay.”
--“Looks like my daughter and that makes me so sad.”
--“A life cut so short...19 yrs old...can’t believe it...wow.”
--“ol’ dumb ass. she isn’t dead, just missing.”
--“Marie was my neighbor. I knew her parents. My wife’s sister’s friend’s daughter’s cousin worked with her mom. I work at Home Depot.”
--“OMG CAN’T BELIEVE”
--“Did she have her cellphone on her when she last left the house? If so, you can probably locate her according to her phone’s data. As long as her phone is on it’s submitting metadata to the local cell towers.”
--“stfu. stop acting like this is an episode of ncis”
--“Brooooooooooooooooo : (“
--“Should check the woods and Polk street there are always dead bodies and people turning up on polk street. I drive by Pol street everyday on the way to work. A lot of hoodlums. A lot of cops and a whole lot of drugs. A crackhead probably got her. You have to watch out for them crackheads. I saw one last week and he was in the middle of the street screaming ‘Lord Jesus don’t let them shoot me! I ain’t trying to get into no trouble just don’t let them shoot me! Oh Gawd oh Lord Oh Gawd oh Lord.’ He was just saying that in the middle of the street. He was trying to fight a stop sign. He called the stop sign a pussy cause it wouldn’t swing on him. Few days before that I seen another crackhead bitch giving some dude head at a bus stop. In daylight.”
--“I think my cousin knew her. My cousin works at Jungle Juice. Marie Antionette is in my prayers.”
Marie Antionette’s mother, walking through the woods, thinks to herself:
I would die for Marie to come back I will die if she doesn’t come back I would do anything for her to come back I will do nothing if she doesn’t come back I will never do anything ever again and I will lie down and die. I wish that a tree would fall. A falling tree would really be best. I want to claw at a tree until my nails bleed and fall off. My nails are colorful. Pink. I shouldn’t have any nails at all. My nails are champagne pink. I asked the nail salon to make my nails champagne pink. I was irritated because I didn’t think they were champagne pink. I should be nail-less and life-less. The police dog is searching for bones. The police want my daughter to be dead. They think that she is dead. They want her to be dead. They think that she is dead. Want. They want her. Dead. I should be dead. I should have no nails and be dead then the police dogs could find my bones and the police could go home. Then they would find my daughter. She would be home in her room with her dog. Then I would be alive. Marie and Macaroni are alive and I am dead. Or I am alive and they are dead. God save my daughter. God. God. Save my daughter. Anyone save my daughter. I don’t care who. Satan save my daughter. Bill Clinton save my daughter. Muhammad Ali save my daughter. Donald Trump save my daughter. Oprah Winfrey save my daughter. Bill Cosby save my daughter. Johnny Depp save my daughter. Michael Phelps save my daughter. Gordan Ramsey save my daughter. Adolf Hitler save my daughter. Why can’t my husband save my daughter. The police don’t want to save my daughter. They want to find bones. My neighbors think that she is dead. They put her flyer on their mailboxes and look at me like she’s dead. I will save my daughter by allowing a tree to fall on me. I will climb a tall tree and jump. Everyone thinks this forest is a cemetery for my daughter. They think she is buried somewhere beneath leaves and soil. Leaves and soil and a dead Marie. A dead Marie. Marie. Marie. My husband and the police and everyone here want to see her dead. My nails are champagne pink. My daughter is gone. I am dead. I will claw at a tree and shave the wood until my nails are ripped off and the tree snaps and I die.