Georgia Finds Nirvana
by Linda Ryan-Harper
My name is Georgia. I was named for an intrusive thought—a melody—that lodged itself in the brain of my mentally ill mother while she carried me. Were she catatonic, would my name be Stupor? On this day, just before my eighth birthday, the wind pushes hard against me. My skirt becomes a bellows; alternately filling with air then deflating and wrapping around my legs. The sun mocks the cold with its brilliance. I stoop down to hold the yellow head of a daffodil between my fingers, the smell of sweet earth rises up. I snap the daffodil's neck.
On the sidewalk, I measure my steps to avoid cracks or break my mother's back. I leave the minefield and enter my house. Inside it is silent and cold; the heater has gone out. My mother sleeps as the wind rattles the window over her head. I place the daffodil beside her: Its vibrancy stirs remorse that I stole it from its place in the sun, the wind, the rain.
I light a piece of paper and throw it into the firebox of the heater. The heater grumbles moodily then belches a foul diesel smell before it ignites. I burrow beneath a blanket and read to allow other voices inside my head until I , like my mother, slip into welcomed unconsciousness.