Rise Mezo
I mmediately after receiving her from her parents, Mallegra's grandmother changed Mallegra's name to Sandra.
In the night, thirty-seven years later, Sandra thought of Mallegra as she was trying to get through the kitchen door, having awakened, suffered an hour's insomnia, and gone down to the refridgerator to stand and eat. On the way, she was stopped, trying to squeeze her girth through the extra-wide kitchen door. It was while she was squeezing that she thought of Mallegra. She contemplated it as if it were a name written in dimly glowing letters on the linoleum floor, which she could see but not touch.
We don't really lose names, she thought. My maiden name, for example. Stills. Or really, she thought, Mallegra is my maiden name, Stills is my strumpet name, Maxe is my married name, and Sandra is my pseudonym. All these things coincide within me as I grow fatter and fatter.
She paused, wedged in and pleasantly lonely, listening to her husband's musical, breathy snore. Sometimes she thought that when she slept, she entered his dreams, and that was the strange place she found herself in whenever she had insomnia--inside the Hades of Ron Maxe's dreams. Here I am, she thought, a zeppelin pressing against the kitchen door, tight-packed with gaseous wraiths. She thought how tight-packed they must be; how many wraiths does it take to make a 5'4" woman weigh four hundred pounds?
She pushed, and then stood still a moment, one breast in the kitchen and one breast out. Buttered toast, she thought.
No, she considered, contradicting herself. Names are outside us. Inside we have no names at all, no names at all. Names are for other people. I have no fundamental name. She reviewed what she knew of all the people she knew and decided that it was unlikely that any of them had a fundamental name, if she herself did not.

First published: May 1997