Name Shame by Liz Betz


Em is tempted to unwrap the little one’s head to show the baby to the cleaning cart woman, but she notices her nametag – Constance. Constance is an ugly old-fashioned name. 

Three people enter the elevator squeezing past them, but none wear the hospital name tags. This won’t do, she needs input for the name choice. When the doors open again, Em leaves the elevator.

 In the hallway, a professional looking woman passes by Em. She is pretty, obviously doing well. Is her name part of her happiness? Caroll. That’s an unusual spelling. No. Unusual spellings condemn you to endlessly correct every form filling, appointment making clerk.

 Plus, as an initial C won’t work. C = See. Like Sea Shore or See Stupid, that’s what happens with C. But there are still so many names. D for DeeDee? Ridiculous name. Where is her head? She has good names picked out. Destiny. That was one name. Grace – that was another. Rose. But are those names too much? What of a name to aspire to? A name that is in the top 10 for popularity this year? That can’t be right.

 Nor is it right to simply find a fiction namesake heroine and give it to your baby girl. Those can be twisted around by a child’s classmates and used to bully her. Like her daughter’s name Angelique which ended up being ‘Angie -leaky, down your legs.’

 The right name, she needs to find the right name. Her daughter told her how her life was ruined by her name. It goes without saying that Em never was anything but an awkward mother whose failures began with the name choice.

 The baby stirs. Em looks around, no one is paying her any attention at the moment but if the baby starts to fuss…she’ll have a name before then. Even if they immediately start looking it will take them time to find her, she has time. The baby will be named. She has the name registration papers in her pocket. She has a pen. Then, with this second chance, and the perfect name, she’ll make up for her daughter’s name shame.

 They won’t be looking yet, although a couple of times people have looked her way and their eyes have asked – aren’t you too old to be carrying a newborn? She’s the child’s grandmother, she’s prepared to say. Grand-mother. Not granny. Not baba or nanny. Those are names that don’t carry respect.

 A grandmother could take her grandchild for a little outing in the hospital. For all anyone knows, she has full permission to be with the child. But Angelique might wake and be alarmed. Alarmed? She’ll go ballistic. She went to sleep with her mother in the room; but she’ll not be assured. Her own mother, after all, is the one who gave her the name that made her suffer so.

 The name, Em has to decide quickly. Now, in fact, because there is the intermittent alarm, there is the loudspeaker blaring out a code color – in her heart she knows that it is for a baby abduction. Destiny? Grace? Rose? Security guards are coming at her. In the crowd of people, she sees her daughter, pale gown flapping against her I.V. pole.

 Em lifts the baby into the air and as she turns in a circle, the sunshine and shadows become blurs, the noise recedes, and there is only her and the infant in the center. Someone is tugging at her arm, saying something. 
Hope. The baby’s name is Hope. She cries out. No one can deny hope. 

Liz Betz is a retired rancher, from Alberta, Canada, who loves to write fiction. Her pastime seems to help her days go by, her brain to stay active and sometimes keeps her out of trouble. An overactive imagination is a wonderful thing to harness, but left alone…! Her publication credits are many and varied as she explores the fictional world of mostly somewhat older but not necessarily mature characters.

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