Her Name Is Not

Daniel Loring Keating

She is languid enough for me to imagine creaking when she deigns to move. Her coat is aged and worn, roughened from continuous exposure to sunlight and rain. Her hair is greasy, hanging in strips and patches, swinging as she moves, each hair heavier at the bottom than elsewhere. She pushes a battered shopping cart along the park path, her yellow fingernails accented by the whiteness of the skin of her fingers gripping the handle. When she looks through me, I can tell she doesn’t remember when I used to ride in the cart.

For a moment I think to reach out to her, to tell her about everything that has happened to me since the day I last saw her. I could tell her everything—I could tell her about the young couple that took me in and gave me a roof. I could tell her about going to college. I could tell her about times I thought I was in love and times I actually was. I could ask her if she is my mother.

Instead, I watch as she pushes her cart past me, circling perpetually to nowhere. I look down at myself, at the clothes I purchased at a store she has probably never been inside, with more money than she has likely had in her possession in years. She is going nowhere; I not only am going “somewhere,” I have already gone somewhere, and even if I wanted to try and bridge the gap that now exists between us, it would do her no good.

I turn around, and she is gone.

Dan Keating is a short fiction writer from Massachusetts; he is currently an MFA candidate at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He has previously been published in Petrichor Machine and Soo Good.

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