I went into Walmart for a bag of ice, something I never do because I don’t like Walmart, and I don’t like ice, and the ice was located next to the wall of Missing Persons and there I was: missing. My picture, the one I got for my passport last year, was hanging next to an artist’s rendition of what I would look like now, one year later, which was basically the same but with longer bangs, which was exactly what I did look like. I stood there confused, reading my height and weight. It said I was last seen in Walmart one year ago, probably last year when I went camping and also needed ice.
There was a number for info so I called. A woman answered. Missing Person’s Hotline she said.
I want to report a sighting of a missing person I said.
Here, at Walmart. It’s me. I mean, the missing person is me. I’m not missing, I’m right here. I’m not sure what’s going on.
She sounded unconcerned. Let me look in your records she says. Well, it definitely says that you are missing. For nearly 11 months. Where have you been?
I haven’t been anywhere I said.
What have you been doing?
I haven’t been doing much of anything, you know, just doing regular stuff. Who reported me as missing?
All information from sources is kept anonymous she said. You must understand why. People might be afraid to come forward if they had to give their names.
Well can you report me as not missing now? I asked.
Sure. We’ll need you to come down to the police station for fingerprint matching first, though.
I showed up at the station and they sent me to the Missing Person’s wing. I sat in the lobby and it seemed to me that everyone was staring, looking at my picture on the wall and then back at me. One woman finally approached the receptionist and said in a half-whisper — I want to report a missing person sighting.
I can hear you I said. I’m not even missing. There’s been a mistake.
They took my fingerprints, confirmed my identity, and then thanked me for coming forward. It’s only through the diligence of citizens like you that we are able to recover people who might stay missing she said, handing me a wet wipe for my inky fingers.
I went back to Walmart a week later to see if they had removed my poster but it had only been updated: Last seen in Walmart. Please call with any information.
Nancy Stohlman is the author of the flash collection The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (2014), the flash novels The Monster Opera (2013) and Searching for Suzi: a flash novel (2009), and three anthologies of flash fiction including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape (2010), which was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is the creator and curator of The Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series in Denver, the creator of FlashNano in November, and she has been published in over 100 journals and anthologies including the forthcoming Norton anthology New Microfictions (2018). Find out more at Nancy Stohlman
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Image (detail): Kolo Mozer