A Seller of Luxury Hair Products in a Texas Shopping Mall Recounts the Wealth of Natural Springs in His Home Country
My mother’s favorite spring has water that reflects her beauty more honestly than a front-facing camera.
One spring flows with Coca-Cola. Next to it flows one with cold, fresh cream.
A man who works at the food court Chick-fil-A, whom I had trusted as a friend, took me to the National Park, not far from here. I told him the story of my mother, and he promised he would show me a local spring for many years believed to be curative by the rheumy bumpkins of this country. But when we arrived at the pool, I discovered it to be arsenical and fouled by a scum of algae. I should not have put faith in a man with such coarse and thinning hair.
There is a simple stream where, I remember, my mother took our laundry every Thursday. The water there was more cleansing than soap. On Fridays, we wore crisp clothes and felt ourselves worthy to stand as mirrors to God.
When I have made enough money to build a large house for my mother, I will return to my country and settle down beside my favorite stream. It is fed by a spring that slows time until it does not seem to pass at all. The stream appears to flow in torrents, but the drinker knows that its water is as still as a lake on a windless day.
I have been here in this desolate place so long that I have begun to forget the names of all the springs, and so I recite them as the shoppers approach my kiosk, wandering from Foot Locker or Victoria’s Secret. “The Spring of Supple Voices,” I say. “The Cat Catcher’s Spring, The Longest Summer’s Spring, The Hopeless Spring, The Stone Thawing Spring, The Half-Dry Spring that Shivers Under the Moon, The Spring of Misplaced Memories,” and so on. Then, when these wanderers are close enough, I turn, smile, and say: “Excuse me, beautiful Miss, let me tell you about the enchanted waters of my country.”
Brendan Egan’s fiction has been published by Witness, North American Review, Yemassee, and other journals. He is the winner of the Greensboro Review’s 2020 Robert Watson Award. A graduate of the MFA program at McNeese State University, he lives in West Texas where he teaches at Midland College and attempts to keep a garden.