Location by Iris N. Schwartz

Late autumn: I’m cold, wind-strewn, jacket-less, alone. Somewhere in New York State. (I study license plates.) Two fives in my jeans pocket. How did I get here? Where’s here?

I say to myself, “Gina, Michelle, Dorothy…don’t panic.” How can I not be disturbed when I don’t know my name? When, now, I’m here, but, ten minutes ago, I was…napping? Shopping for cheese? Making love?

Will I need to buy Baby’s First Name to find my own?

If I learn who Gina, Michelle, and Dorothy are, I’ll discover who I am. Don’t you think?

People are looking at me. My hair is tangled. I’m chilled. Toenails must be blue. Never had good circulation. Is that true?

I turn my head both ways in search of street signs. None. My eyes pick out businesses, but see no proper nouns painted on the quaint storefront windows. Just “Flowers.” “Notions.” “Phlately.”

Is there a train out of here? Smoke ahead. Locomotive’s chugging in! Man with fob watch tells me travel to Manhattan requires four gold coins (special tokens). I note kiosks, but no other personnel, no signs identifying trains, no schedules.

I glance around, observe only teenagers. Feel jumpy. Turn a corner, spot a long line. Ask a girl if this train is Manhattan-bound. She says, “You want it to be…yes.”

Realize I’m hungry. Trudge a block to “Luncheon.” One empty chair. I sit, order a chocolate milkshake. Waiter brings it, then eyes me up and down, says I don’t need it. Must I explain that overweight people still need to eat? Two teens at the table slurp down my drink.

I shake my head, begin walking back to catch my locomotive. Waiter yells: “Pay your bill!” I scream: “I didn’t drink the milkshake!”

I want to go home. (I guess. Where’s home?)

Iris N. Schwartz has had work published in, among other journals, Foxglove Journal, Friday Flash Fiction, Jellyfish Review, and We Are A Website Literary & Art Journal. Her first collection of stories, My Secret Life with Chris Noth: And Other Stories, was published in late fall of 2017.