This is a poetic narrative re-interpretation to my earlier poem "Remorseless."

My family bought a dog when I was young. We named her Forgiveness. There was so much discord in our family of four, my parents thought that maybe getting her would fix us.

No such luck.

My mom would nag me to feed her whenever my sister and I were fighting. But when my dad came home from work with bags under his eyes, she kicked Forgiveness under the bed.

When my sister was ten she swore she’d get rid of Forgiveness for good...she didn’t need that stupid old thing anyways. When she was fifteen she met a boy who treated her like fifteen year old boys do. She started to take Forgiveness on frequent walks to calm her down.

When I was seventeen my mom and dad’s yelling filled the stairwell night and day. I hid in my room with Forgiveness, who shook under the covers, unfed and ungroomed. The yelling subsided one day and Forgiveness ran down the hall, tail between her legs. My mom grabbed her by the belly and threw her out of the house for good. Two weeks later my dad announced their divorce.

Since then, I’ve hidden Forgiveness in my college dorm room, since my parents wouldn’t let her stay. Through my fits of anger at my professors and my self-hatred for the relationships I have soiled, Forgiveness paws and claws at me. Day after day she begs me to pick her up and play, but I always go on my way, much too busy for her. Though I know that just a little time with her could turn my bad days better, I’m simply too annoyed with excitable dogs to let her lick my skin raw again.

Most days I forget to feed her. She lies whimpering in the corner of her steel cage, guilting me with her big brown eyes while my hardened heart studies for finals. She whimpers but I shut her out. I’m too strong to need a stupid old thing like Forgiveness anyways.

A few weeks ago I finally gave in. My green-eyed roommate slept with my boyfriend and I couldn’t take it anymore. I spent hours sobbing in the corner, holding Forgiveness in my arms. She licked my chin free of tears, and her tail wagged in understanding.

I think I’ll take Forgiveness home for the holidays this year. Seeing her again might do my family some good.