Brief Interjection – Jan. 11, 2017

So, doing these writing exercises with names reminds me of the “name crisis” I went through as a child. Though I enjoy having the name Shannon now, it wasn’t always the case. It sounded odd to me, especially coming out of my own mouth, and I also went through a bit of a case of “grass is greener” syndrome.

I wanted to be a Sarah. The name Sarah sounded lovely, smooth, and graceful, a regal name for a little princess. As I grew up just a little more and began to read more, I wanted something unique, a name no one else would have. Because of the (ridiculously cheesy) movie “Three Ninjas,” and with one of the characters having the name Colt, I decided I wanted to be called…. (it’s embarrassing even mentioning it) “Filly.” My prodigious powers of hindsight cause me to cringe at even considering it, but I had a lot of super-great ideas when I was a kid.

I never really brought up the idea of changing my name, of trying to get others to call me anything else… until 8th grade. At the beginning of the school year, our teachers called out each of our names on the roll-call and also asked us what name we would like to be called. I mustered up the courage to speak up in a couple of those classes and *gulp* asked to be called Filly.  One of my teachers approached me after class and basically said, “I respect you, but I’m not calling you that.”

One of my other teachers obliged, and thus that was my name in his class during that year. I’ll admit I enjoyed writing that name on the top of assignments, but felt increasingly embarrassed being called upon as time went on. Even after that year, I would occasionally still be called by that name, but fortunately high school came along with a new campus and new teachers and a chance for me to accept wholeheartedly the mantle of Shannon.

I have still toyed around with the idea of going by a different name from time to time, and with the advent of widespread Internet usage, I became accustomed to being called by number of different aliases. To some, I’m still Amethyst Star. To others, I’m Aletha Prime. To a smaller group, I’m just “E.”

While I’ve enjoyed going by various monikers, I am Shannon. There’s always the chance that if I was ever published that I would go under a pen name, but I’m content and happy being the Shannon my parents know and love.

(And for those who may be tempted to come up to me and call me Filly “for old time’s sake,” don’t. Please, don’t. Just don’t. Seriously, don’t. No really, Corrie, don’t.)

Names Week 1- #2

(This week’s exercise.)

***

Three red lights flashed slowly over the door. Sarah knew it was sealed, the lights signaling “Extreme danger! No exiting permitted under any circumstances!” At least those were the words Director Marcus used. It wouldn’t matter how much she prayed, how much she wished for those lights to stop flashing; she wasn’t going anywhere.

It was easier to watch the door. Some stood near the windows, watching the black eddies swirl past five floors down from the tsunami shelter, waiting for the next wave to try and topple the stout building over and over and over. They peered up at the sunless sky, at clouds that only brought more rain… more despair. Sarah preferred the sight of the gray metal door with its cold indifference. At least the blinking lights could change at some point. They would tell her some when it was safe to leave, when she could finally reunite with her family.

“Are you hungry, Mrs. Francis?”

Hitoshi’s outstretch hand held a small plate of dried trout and buttered bread. The salty fish smell caused her stomach to contract, another connection to the water that kept her away from her children.

“No, thank you.” She pulled the gray fleece blanket more snugly around her shoulders as she met his worried brown eyes. His hair was neatly combed, and while his suit was as rumpled as everyone else’s clothing, his face appeared to have been washed recently.

“Would you like something else? You have not eaten much. I can get you-”

“What’s the point?” Her own blonde hair lay tangled and limp against her back, faded black streaks of mascara lined her cheeks, and her red eyes moved underneath puffy lids. The dark blue long sleeves of her blazer sported white spots where she’d wiped her eyes and nose over the last two days. “I have no one to stay strong for.”

Hitoshi’s gentle hand hesitantly reached forward and rested on her shoulder. “You stay strong for you.”

Meeting his eyes, she replied lifelessly, “I’m supposed to be dead.” Her finger pointed to her left towards the door, south-east. “I was supposed to be in Derdin, covering a story about school teachers’ wages, but I was called here.” She ticked off the series of events with her fingers. “If I hadn’t come to Lepsun City, if I hadn’t found a sitter at the last minute… if I had stayed home instead of telling my husband I’d ‘be right back,’ I would have been caught in the first wave.” A sigh slipped slowly into the air. “I could have died with them!”

 

Names Week 1 – #1

Thank you Katie for setting up these next challenges! This week we’re focusing on the impressions we get when seeing or hearing particular names. (Link to the assignment.)

***

Beyond the old, warped window, Wilmer Kaine eyed the moving truck parked in their driveway. On the grass, his daughter and granddaughter chased their floppy-eared spaniel in the warm light of the late afternoon sun. Amelia and Catherine were the only legacy he would be sharing with the rest of the world once he was gone, at least that anyone would know. Whether that day was another ten years off or an hour later, he made sure every moment he could spare was put toward cherishing their every movement and ensuring their future was one worth living.

He’d always worked for a better future, but not always for his kids. For a time he worked for himself. Before that it was for Abacus. Before that it was for the Marine Corps and the State Department. In the beginning, he simply worked for a mechanic named Davis, making the world better one oil change at a time.

A quiet laugh briefly misted the glass. If Davis was alive, he would have stopped recognizing Wilmer years ago. Time and strong men had beaten the delusions of grandeur out of his mind. His vulgar speech was replaced with wit and charm and fluent Cantonese; his overalls became tailored suits; and his sidearm felt as natural in his hands as a wrench once had.

The black file cabinets, each securely locked, held his story. Only his late Martha had an inkling of what was in those stolen files, and he never did blame her for not wanting to know the rest. God knew he would erase the past if he could.

Taking one last look to make sure his loved ones were engrossed in their fun, he crossed the polished bamboo floor and took the lock of the nearest cabinet in his left hand.

12-18-12

He may not have been able to erase his past, but with the burn-barrel in the back yard, at least some of it could go up in smoke.