After you left, I used to keep seeing you all over the city. Sometimes I thought I saw your picture in the Post, even though your father shook his head every time I showed him.

Then I saw a homeless girl on Ninety Sixth Street asking for spare change. And she looked just like you. A mother should always be able to recognize her daughter.

She had on one of those knitted caps even though it was ninety degrees. All her hair was tucked into it. Her coat was shredding at the hem so you could see her ankles were caked with dirt.

She kept asking for spare change. I mean, the idea! I don't have any spare change! Lord knows the office pays me little enough!

I was always afraid you'd end up like that. Even though you look great ever since you've come back, I can't believe you're not having any trouble with the rent.

When I watched the homeless girl shaking change in her cup, I thought you must have gotten the freedom you felt you deserved. And look what you'd done with it!

But I'm glad it wasn't you.

You know, in a way it was worse when that homeless girl turned out to be someone else. If she'd been you, at least I would have known where you were all those years you didn't call your family.

[Elizabeth Morse/text] [Dan Freeman/drawing]

The Unbearables Manual of Style
Dan Freeman paintings
Man of a 1000 Bars
Between C and D
© copyright Thin Ice Press 2007
© copyright Elizabeth Morse 1999, 2007
© copyright Dan Freeman 1999, 2007