Sabrina Orah Mark

The Name

When Walter B. discovered Beatrice that winter inside his chest, he began to suspect that something for Beatrice had never happened. Something, perhaps, like a name, he thought to himself, as he carried her. He carried her into the parlor. And he carried her into his bed. All winter he carried her, inside his chest, like a Beatrice without a name. When the spectacle came to town he carried her to the spectacle. And when the spectacle left town, he knew he would go on carrying her without the spectacle for a long time. All winter, he carried her. There were times he did not want to go on with this carrying. There were times he wanted to tie around her neck a thin bundle of sticks and send her out. But something for Beatrice had never happened. Something like a name. And this was a world, thought Walter B., a world inside which a Beatrice could not live without a name. He studied his chest and marveled at its smallness. He could not, like this, go on. If he could find for Beatrice a name, thought Walter B., he could empty her out. If he could find for Beatrice a name, a name that would last, he could go on without her. A name like Poland. Or Abigail, for example. But first he would have to remove Beatrice from Beatrice. But how? How does a man, wondered Walter B., remove a Beatrice from a Beatrice so that he can find for her a name. A name that could empty his chest of a Beatrice. He hadn’t meant to go on carrying her for this long. But he went on carrying her. He carried her inside his chest for a long, long time. He carried her until one day she was gone. And the space in his chest where he had once carried her grew large. He marveled at its largeness. And he knew he would go on carrying this largeness, this largeness that was once inside him a Beatrice, for a long, long time.