The Misfit

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The Misfit

Last week, I drove my daughter
to Smoothie King

on our way back from the pediatrician,
who had stabbed

a long cotton swab down her throat
and shot her full

of penicillin
the consistency of Karo Syrup

to kill off
all those malcontent streptococcals

causing fever and making every
morsel of food

feel like gravel and grit. My girl’s
a trouper though—

choosing that horse needle over a regimen
of pills. She’s also adopted

and Black and 11 and named Flannery
after God-knows-who-

along-with-anybody-else-who’s-ever-read-
a-damn-good-story-about-

what’s-hard-to-find.

But, I’m white—a middle-aged, bespectacled
professor who could pass

for her grandfather, except, obviously,
I can’t. When

the twenty-something Smoothie King clerk
asked for a name,

I said, Flannery, and she
double-taked while the revelation hit

her. My name’s Flannery too,
she said, and I’ve never met another one.

In fact, she’s Flannery O’Connor,
a distant relation

of the Andalusian sage. For what seemed
a hot minute,

those girls stared at each other
like Fate had just

run them off the road and right
into a rest stop

where they could pause and think
about who they were

and what they shared and how
they came to be

namesake babies of the same good
woman. And me?

I was the misfit witness, preparing to pay
and break out

into August heat, stuck in that stage
of life where

weighing what you done right against
what you done wrong

is the only real meanness
left to do.

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