by Amanda Corbin

It had begun subtly: a renamed Olentangy here, a Charlotte moved twenty miles north there. At first, she faulted her brain as thought it labeled a rectangle a square. But as she drove and shifted from town to suburb, the yellowing pages of her roadmaps became less consistent, less tethered to the geography she’d memorized. A once clear setting of states now showed Kentucky birthing Utah and North Dakota kissing South Carolina. She studied the freeways that gaped at her windshield, new pathways innervating steel to stone with prenatal reach. Most would be lost but she followed the geese who never faltered in their migration.

When she was a girl, she feared revolving doors. Her mother would clench her wrist and lead her into the blindness of the screeching retail roulette for the sake of a summer sale. There was a time she cried hard enough that her mother placed her on a Bloomingdale’s bench. A man whose teeth spoke like a haunted piano ran his fingers through her relaxed, untarnished hair as the mall directory had only stood and watched. She tried tracing the paths between stores and restaurants as his hand studied her scalp, but the directions seemed topsy-turvy like a compass smashed against a tire. She peeled the “you are here” sticker from the plexiglass and placed it to her neck.

Now, she timed herself by pocketing the landmarks along her wayward route, trying to make sense of her layout. Each atrophied shopping center she passed seemed to lift her wheels off the ground. Her pens ran dry from the lines she scrawled on each brochure. Gum wrappers, tissues, and beef jerky littered her car floor. Eventually, a pier peeked over a railing and signaled her to stop.

Biting a pen, she readied to mark the western coast in Topeka. Instead, she glided out of the car and towards the shore and asked the ocean if she was finished tracking the word around her. Vindicating waves crawled to her, lapping up the pages she dropped and swallowing the places she’d passed. The geese bedded the sandbar nearby as the water revolved with itself.

She already knew that names no longer had meaning and cast aside her own, with two fingers pressed into a familiar vein running along her throat.

About the Author:

Amanda Nicole Corbin is a writer and teacher in Columbus, Ohio, who got her Master’s Degree from Salt Lake City, Utah. Writing is her recovery and her favorite way is with the light of the winter sun and her cat, Ellie, sitting on her spacebar. She has had her short prose published in journals such as the Notre Dame Review, Thin Air Magazine, and Thrice Fiction.