After many days and nights, Rose arrives in the city with snow-edged shoulders.
“I came down from the mountains,” she tells the strangers, by way of explaining the snow, “and my name is Rose.”
“Rose what?” they ask, though not unkindly--they are simply curious because not only is she young and clean, she is radiant with newness and mystery, and because it is the desert and there are no mountains and yet she has snow on her shoulders.
“Smith,” she says, for her real name is one that raises questions and a need for story, and she does not want to tell stories. She does not want to tell them how as a baby she was left on a train track, and that the woman and man who had found her, the Voorheises--an elderly, kind couple who made shoes--had brought her into the town and told everybody how they had found her there, yes, on the tracks, just a spit away from the 10:52 to Arbington and the wooden sign that read Welcome to Rose Township. She does not want to tell them that the old couple decided to name her Rose Township Voorheis, and that, without meaning to, had made her a legend. She does not want to tell them about the peaceful, quiet town, how they treated her with such awe and delicacy and superstitious charity, and how this, and the peace and the quiet, conspired to slowly almost kill her. Or how, no matter the old couple’s love, she could not help feeling strange and afraid all the time and wanted at once to flee and to always hide in their arms. She does not want to tell them about the pain of leaving, or of the danger and loneliness of constant motion. She does not want to tell them of where she has since been, or of the time she was nearly drowned, or of the place that was murderously cold, or of the thing she saw that she hopes never to see again. She does not want to speak of the past she knows or doesn’t know. She does not want to speak of any of this. She wants, simply, to keep moving, southward, steady.