The Lost Name

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Lost Name


Milan, 1919


She got off the train platform slowly, one foot in front of the other, her knees trembling from the fatigue. The trip from Rome to Milan had been particularly long and tedious, and her legs had hurt for the whole journey.

She buttoned up her long gray coat and started walking towards the station’s exit, clutching her black purse filled with medicines, a few liras, and her most precious possessions: paper sheets on which the nurse had noted all the information she needed.

The lady proceeded in small steps, looking around nervously. She had never been to the Milano Centrale station before: it was majestic and crowded, delicately illuminated through his transparent glass roof. She inhaled the smell of smoke and coffee, and the flowery fragrance of a glamourous woman passing by.

« Can I help you, Signora? »

The woman turned around, and found herself in front of a tall, distinguished young man. He wore an affable smile and was holding a black suitcase in his left hand: he reminded her of her late husband, Riccardo, who always dressed like a refined businessman.

Her eyes filled with tears: she had spent the last two months in a hospital room, bedridden by what the nurses called the Spanish Flu.

"The Greatest Medical Holocaust in History", the newspapers had defined it. She knew nothing about pandemics, but she was certain that if the flu hadn’t killed her, then loneliness would have given her the coup de grace. She had spent months without seeing anyone except medical staff, just waiting to die alone.

« Signora? »

The gentleman was staring at her, expectantly.

«Yes, I must go to ...»

She opened her purse and took out one of her paper sheets.

« 41, Via della Spiga »

« My name is Giacomo » the stranger said « I can accompany you, if you wish »

The old lady hesitated, wondering if she should take a taxi. Then she thought of how lonely she had felt in the train, and how threatening Milano Centrale seemed. While considering her options, she suddenly froze: she had forgotten her suitcase on the train, and in it the most important piece of information.

« I lost it! » she screamed, browsing through her purse and hoping to find her passport.

« What is wrong, Signora? »

« I lost it… »

She shot a glance at him, her cheeks on fire from the shame.

« I lost my name »

Giacomo nodded, pulled a notebook out of his pocket and scribbled something on it.

She read it out loud, and her thin lips started to tremble.

« Greta Donati »

Greta gazed at the young man in a rare moment of lucidity. A lump formed in her throat and she wondered what the use in surviving influenza was if she could hardly remember her identity.

Giacomo embraced her, inhaling the familiar scent of naphthalene and roses.

« Welcome back, Mamma »


Submitted: May 08, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Dea Dhrami. All rights reserved.

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