The following three short stories will be in my upcoming book, Short Stuff, which will be released very soon. Please let me know what you think, and please let me know if you see any typos.
Copyright© 2012, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.
What’s in a name?
“Good morning, young people. Welcome to a new school year. Everyone here calls me Ms. P, so you may as well do the same. Let me take the role to see who’s here. If you don’t hear your name, please let me know. It’s normal for a few students to have schedules that didn’t get updated over the summer, which means your homeroom has been changed. We’ll get you to the right place, so don’t worry about that,” the teacher said with a bright smile.
While the other students whispered and chattered around her, Tremaniathrice sat quietly and waited for her name to be called. This was always a tense time for her. She was in a new school and new teachers would have to learn to pronounce her name. She knew when the teacher got to her name, because there was a pause, and the teacher’s brow furrowed slightly.
“Tray– Tray–,” the teacher started.
“Tray-mo-nee-a-threece,” Tremaniathrice said slowly.
“Whew, that’s definitely a mouthful,” the teacher said.
“Yes, I know. I’ve had it all my life. I have no idea what my parents were thinking,” Tremaniathrice said and joined in the chuckles of her peers.
“OK, so do you have a nickname?” The teacher asked with a smile on her face and a rise of one eyebrow. She was hopeful.
“No,” Tremaniathrice said.
“No,” Tremaniathrice repeated again.
“OK, well, let’s go with Miss Jennings then,” the teacher said as she looked back down at her clipboard and put a check by Tremaniathrice’s name. When she looked up, Tremaniathrice had her hand in the air.
“Yes, Miss Jenkins, I mean, Miss Jennings.”
“You’ve called about nine names before mine, and you didn’t call any of them by their last names,” Tremaniathrice said without attitude or bitterness.
“Well, no, but…,” the teacher started.
“Do you think it’s fair that you call me by my last name, because you won’t even try to learn how to pronounce my first name?”
“Well, I just don’t want to continue to mess it up, that’s all,” the teacher said hoping to get off the hook.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Tremaniathrice said in reply.
“Well, all the students call me Ms. P, because they can’t pronounce my last name,” the teacher said with a little chuckle. She really wanted to move on.
“Well, Ms. Petrakovilovich,” Tremaniathrice said pronouncing the teacher’s full last name perfectly, “when they gave me my schedule a month before school started, I asked how to pronounce your name. They told me everyone called you Ms. P, and I thought that it was unfair of me not to even try to pronounce the name given to you by someone who probably loves you. I had the secretary say it over and over, and I wrote down the phonetic sounds, so that I could practice, Ms. Petrakovilovich.”
There was an awkward pause as Ms. Petrakovilovich’s cheeks flushed crimson. Finally, she spoke.
“You know, Miss Jennings, you are absolutely correct, and I appreciate the tactful way you handled this situation. Please see me after class, and help me learn to pronounce your name,” Ms. Petrakovilovich said.
The bell rang, and everyone got up to leave as Tremaniathrice approached Ms. Petrakovilovich’s desk with a stack of notecards. She extended one to Ms. Petrakovilovich, who looked down at it.
The card contained Tremaniathrice’s name on one line with the phonetic spelling on the line below it. Tremaniathrice smiled at her teacher and spoke as she headed out the door.
“One class down, six more teachers to go. Have a nice day, Ms. Petrakovilovich.”
Vanessa wasn’t going to get another choice in this game. This was her only chance to be a part of the Ian-crowd. All she had to do was choose correctly from the three cards sitting between her and the group facing her. In the cold and dimly-lit room, Vanessa stared intently at the cards.
“They’ve all done it, Vanessa. They wouldn’t be here if they’d chosen incorrectly. Those who are connected to our vibe always choose correctly,” Ian said.
Vanessa looked at the girls in the semi-circle behind Ian, with their pale faces, their black-rimmed lips and eyes and their jet-black hair, and her heart ached even more to be in the coolest, most-feared clique in school. Goth goddesses they were called; Ian’s minions.
Vanessa looked for and found Cassidy, who seemed to be as anxious as Vanessa. Ian had chosen Cassidy to either welcome Vanessa into the group or cast her out, depending on the card Vanessa chose.
“The monkey is on one of these cards,” Ian said in an eerily inviting voice.
Vanessa looked down at the three cards.
“You want to be one of us, don’t you?” Ian asked, and Vanessa nodded that she indeed wanted to be one of them.
Vanessa leaned forward and held her hand over the left card. Finally she put her fingers on the card in the middle before lifting and moving her hand over and picking up the card on the right.
She held it up for the group to see, and everyone gasped. She waited for the applause that Cassidy said would follow when she chose the correct card.
Before she could figure out why Cassidy wasn’t in the spot where she’d last seen her, Vanessa felt a pillow slam hard against her face as she struggled into eternal darkness.
The entire group circled around Vanessa and stared down at her. It was Ian who broke the spell.
“Whose turn is it to bury the body?”
All I Want for Christmas
Lettie had looked at the little patent-leather purse each time she went into town with her family. It was black and shiny with a long strap. Right in the middle of the pull-over flap was a bright yellow duck with an orange beak.
Lettie wanted to ask her papa to buy it for her, but she knew he wouldn’t. There was no extra money for Lettie to have a purse, and she knew if Papa did buy it she would have to share it with the other girls.
Lettie was the youngest girl in a family with twelve children. She and her four sisters shared everything. They had a doll that was brand new, still in the box and nailed to their bedroom wall. No one played with it, but they all got to look at it. To Papa, this was sharing.
Lettie knew her only option to get that purse all to herself was to ask for it for Christmas. Her concern was that Christmas was months away and she was afraid the purse would get bought by someone else.
That night, Lettie prayed that purse would be hers for Christmas and that God would make sure no one else bought it.
Weeks went by and the purse remained in the store. Lettie prayed every night that God would keep that purse for her. Every time she went to town and saw her little purse, she knew God was listening.
With two weeks to go before Christmas, Lettie sat down with her brothers and sisters. In front of each child, their mother placed a slip of paper and gave the oldest the pencil first to write down the one thing he wanted for Christmas.
The pencil went from child-to-child like this each year. When Lettie got the pencil, she wrote down what she wanted, folded the paper very tightly and dropped it in Papa’s hat like all her siblings before her.
Lettie went to bed that night and dreamed about that purse. It wasn’t until she was stretching out of her sleep the next morning that she remembered she’d forgotten to pray for her purse.
When Papa announced he was going into town to buy some new plowing equipment, Lettie asked if she could go along. Of course, her papa said yes, because she knew she was his favorite.
All the way to town, Lettie wished Papa would go faster and not be so talkative. When Papa got to talking, he allowed the horses to take their time on the dusty road.
After what seemed like double the time it usually took to get to town, after Papa stopped and spoke to and talked to, as it seemed to Lettie, every person that crossed their path, they finally pulled up in front of the general store.
As Lettie heard Papa telling the back of her where she could find him when she was done in the store, she was briskly pushing through other customers to make sure her purse was still there.
When Lettie walked over to where her papa was looking at plowing equipment, he could see she’d been crying. Papa wasn’t good with tears, so he assumed that since she wasn’t crying now everything had worked itself out. He told himself that she would confide in him if she wanted to.
On the journey home, Lettie chose to ride in the back of the wagon with Papa’s new plowing equipment. He made a pallet for her and closed the wagon gate. Lettie slept all the way home.
All her siblings noticed the sadness that had descended on Lettie, and they were worried about her. She was always such a lively person, and they knew something was really heavy on her heart. They were really perplexed when Mama and Papa chose to ignore Lettie’s mood as opposed to trying to find out what was the matter.
On Christmas morning, everyone rushed to the tree except Lettie. She knew that she had a present like everyone else, but it wasn’t going to be the present she really wanted. She made up her mind to be grateful, anyhow. It was no one’s fault but her own that she wouldn’t be getting what she wanted. It was her carelessness that she had for blame and nothing else.
Tradition dictated that the oldest child opened his present first and then on down the line to the youngest child to Mama and then to Papa.
As Lettie watched one sibling after the other open their present to reveal exactly what they’d asked for, Lettie was slowly overtaken by hope.
What if the reason the purse wasn’t in the store was because Mama or Papa had already purchased it? Would God be so cruel to punish Lettie for missing one prayer?
Then Lettie’s spirits dipped again when she thought about the fact that she hadn’t prayed at all since discovering the purse missing from store shelf. Surely, God was not pleased by this and maybe her parents had gotten the purse, but God told them to take it back.
Still, Lettie felt her spirits pick up once more when she was two siblings away from opening her present and everyone else was still getting what they asked for.
With only one sibling ahead of her to open his gift, Lettie found herself caught up in everyone’s good cheer. Again, another sibling had gotten what he had asked for and the turn fell to Lettie.
As she tried to find an opening in the wrapping paper, she hoped no one could see her hands shaking. Her brothers and sisters encouraged her to go faster, and Lettie gave them a nervous smile.
The box was big enough and small enough to hold the shiny purse, Lettie thought to herself. She got so nervous, the box slipped off her lap and everyone cheered when her oldest brother caught it before it hit the floor.
Lettie thanked him and took the extended box from him. Again she slowly tore off the rest of the paper as her family sat around her silently.
When Lettie finally got the wrapping paper off and opened the lid of the box, she froze when she saw the tissue paper. Her heartbeat quickened, and her arms felt like lead when she lifted them to move the tissue paper.
When Lettie saw what was sitting under the tissue, she burst out in uncontrollable tears.
Copyright© 2012, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.