Her unknown mother’s salt, deep in the wells of her skin

Flash-fiction by Sean Taylor

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She tasted her mother’s salt in the first drop of sweat on the fifth step, once outside the church. This is the story of her family’s recessive gene of belief, and how it quelled her disbelief. It slowed her down, and with one corner of the coffin on her back, it slowed the rest of the procession as well. They moved like shadows, dressed in black and bound to the ground, hiding from the mid-day sun.

She was an orphan for bad timing, discovering the identity of her birth mother one week before the funeral, one day after her death. She came to know her gone, a cross-country search that happened to end across the country.

At an Eskimo funeral you remember everyone’s face. You have to. It’s so cold—they hide everything else in coats. If there’s ice skating at my funeral, nobody better break a hip, she thinks. Or if everyone did, we could just transfer the pain, and placate the adrenaline, and by sharing the scars we will be bound by something. Just like best friend tattoos, except blessed deep into our bones.

Funerals in Florida though, she learned right quick, the humidity brings your genes out, and you can taste the family tree, running right down your face.

Smiling now, with the overexposed eyes of a brand new tragedy, she knew she must live only in humid climates. In the coming months she moved next-door to the church. Now when asked where she’s been, it’s not a lie, coming back from the gym, to say she was spending time with her mother. Their family’s blood full cheeks blushed like a birthday cake.

In truth there is not much that can be done with her complete lack of nostalgia, or how she so chooses to recreate it. So she assumed. She moved to the town her mother lived in and harvested every possible second glance. It was for some semblance of history, a familiarity, she drank the same tap water, and ate the same produce.

Counting heavy on one last, last thing, she showed up unannounced, moist in her mother’s scent, and persuaded the family cat to come home to her. She gave off enough, to blend in and become, this new life unknown. It is in this success she is finally, somewhat sure of how to pronounce the word “family.” She does so in the registered purr of her new cat, also orphaned by her mother, though not nearly long enough to be lost, or found.


Sean Taylor has published fiction in Pantheon, Instant City, The Evergreen Review, The Coe Review, and Full of Crow Fiction. He was nominated for The 2012 Pushcart by Sparkle and Blink as well as the 2014 Pushcart by Pantheon Magazine. His first collection Everything to do with You was published by Seventh Tangent in 2010. His second collection titled Your Smallest Bones was released February 2015 on Seventh Tangent Press.

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