Cover Photo: An image of a woman sitting on an orange couch with a do in her lap. On the green floor is a large shadow of a face—perhaps it is the woman herself or one of her mothers. A bird of paradise plant is  in the corner, and bookshelf to the upper right side.
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

The Mother of Reckoning

One of my mothers, I thought, could be dead.

South China Morning Post

TheNew York Times

Why have you forsaken me?




wanting enough to

Dear Tracy ONeill

Neither of the birth parents' addresses can found. There is information about them in the file, but they are not found at all. KAS could not find them by the second try. We feel sorry for this disappointing outcome.

We wanted to provide you with some additional information in the file : the birth father was a married man and had 2 children from his wife, the birth mother got divorced from her husband 5 years ago from you were born and was living alone while running a coffee house the birth mother had dated with the birth father secretly, who was a regular customer at the coffee house, later, she got pregnant. As she was dating just with the birth father. the birth father was running a farm and wanted to borrow money from the birth mother, so she lent him. But he seemed not repay her the money. The birth mother told everything to the birth father's wife, therefore the birth mother received some of the money.

These are all we can give.



I am not afraid to die, but I am afraid to die alone.


Tracy O'Neill is the author of The Hopeful (2015) and Quotients (2020). She was a 2015 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and a 2012 Center for Fiction Fellow. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, the New Yorker, LitHub, BOMB, Narrative, Guernica, Bookforum, Vice, VQR, Austin Chronicle, and Catapult. She attended the MFA program at the City College of New York and the PhD program in communications at Columbia University.