Love in the Middle

“I don’t have a middle initial,” she tries to submit the form, but the computer highlights in red her namelessness.

I feel her begin to crawl up into herself, chameleoning into my couch.

“Shouldn’t I have a middle name?” she asks.

“Not everyone has one,” I try to make this unnamed middle a smaller absence.

But it is there.

This blackness.

This shadow always creeping across her face.

This unbuoyed business of being unclaimed.

I think of names for her, this blazing star so terrified of burning everyone else.

“You could choose a middle name,” I say, cursing the computer and that damn red box.

“What’s your middle name?” she asks.

“Wheeler.”

“Like a wheel?” she laughs.

“Sort of,” I smile.  “It was my maiden name and I kept it because I wanted to remain linked to my brothers.”

“What do I want?”  Her question is pregnant with wanting.

I hold my breath.  She’s not asking me.

“Love.  My middle name will be Love.” She types an “L” and submits the form for college.  “What do you think?” she asks.

“It’s perfect.  But then again, what do I know?  My Acholi name means ‘Laughter’,” I shrug.

“Love and laughter,” she relaxes into the herself.

“Love and laughter then,” I squeeze her hand and we giggle.

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