Where Daughters Lost End Up Sometimes

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Four

It’s the parking lot straddling Addison Mall on 3rd, and here’s your standard-issue bag lady with shopping cart in tow who she haunts the lot where she lives off by the entrance where it says stop stenciled on the asphalt and there’s a signpost welcoming customers to the mall, and close to sundown she’s out in entirely too many layers for the July heat looking for that model station wagon she remembers Volvo pumping out back in the circa mid ‘90s, which she’s found there aren’t all that many on the streets anymore like thirty years later, but on lucky days she’ll spot one all rust-bellied and duct-taped and she pulls up pushing her cart with the one bum wheel skewing annoyingly to the right and goes ahead and blesses the Volvo with a bottle of now rancid canola oil for holy water, is down on her knees with fingers laced and head inclined and at the end of her twenty seconds of silence she mouths a Midwestern Amen and signs the cross forehead-chest-shoulder-shoulder, and sometimes when the low sun shatters across a Volvo’s greased-up rear windshield just right she looks up and sees her daughter staring back at her refracted dark in the blind dark glass and whose expression is she looks surprised the way her lips are curled into a lowercase-o, her cheeks hollowed as if sucking on an exhaust pipe, an expression mirrored now on the bag lady’s own long face as she sighs her good lord’s name and takes another moment to reminisce and tries not to blink and dissipate what she’s seeing, until there’s honks and angry voices and hands gesticulating out of lowered driver’s side windows telling her to get out of the way lady there’s working people here trying to get their shopping done, and she stares into the headlights, her head cocked as if struggling to recognize a familiar face whose name is just on the tip of her tongue.

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