Alice-Anne Andrei-Abbott was named after her grandmothers, neither of whom she ever met. But she was taught that each were women of great strength, faith and devotion to their families.
Couple that bit of parental whimsy with her mother’s desire to keep her maiden name and Alice-Anne, who was wee bit of a thing, always found herself first in line for everything in school.
Divorce may have excised her father, Adam, from her life, but Alice-Anne would never drop her double-monikered surname, not even when her mother asked if she would.
“Everyone I know is a one namer, Mom. For crying out loud, even you,” Alice-Anne told her mother when Audra Andrei posited such a change after Alice-Anne graduated from high school.
“God damn it, Allie, this would be a perfect time for you to claim your own life from connection to a deadbeat dad’s names.”
“How can you say that, Mom?”
“I just did, Allie, it’s time.”
“Just because you don’t want anything to do with Daddy, doesn’t mean I have to erase that part of me from knowing who I am,” Alice-Anne said.
“Knowing who you are, Allie?”
“Like I haven’t noticed how you’ve removed any photos of me from when Daddy lived with us? Mom, my name — all my names, even those dead old ladies — make me who I am and it’s important to me not to get lost in the crowds I’ll meet in college.”
“Now I get it,” her mother said, her eyes narrowing.
“Oh, really, Mother? Please enlighten me with your epiphany about what I’m trying to say or do.”
“Quite simply, you say you want to stand out, but you’re actually afraid of becoming your own woman.”
“Right, haven’t you been listening to me? Say what you want to say, but I’m keeping my names.”
“That’s it, huh? Under no circumstances will you drop your father’s – the father who walked out on us over ten years ago — that father’s name?”
“Why do you really want me to do this, Mom? Extra-angry because you’re turning 50 next week and now he’s finally remarrying someone half your age, someone who actually buys into his narcissistic bullshit, someone without a puny little bookworm daughter who’s so so so so proud of how her mother raised her totally on her own and how I don’t want to lose his name because it’s a constant reminder that there are two sides to everyone and carrying around that extra weight has made me one fiercely strong little bitch? Exciting, huh?” Alice-Anne said as she flexed her arms in a strongman’s pose.
“Zero chance of me changing my name, Mom. All I can say is, no one’s ever going to make me turn into something I don’t want to.”
“Better not even try, huh,” her mother said with a resigned grin.”
“Correct, Mommy. Damn it, I feel like beating up a large man right now, or maybe just crushing a disgustingly decadent burger, fries and ‘nilla shake over at Bad Daddy’s,” Alice-Anne said.
“Eating sounds like a less offensive, more legal way to go, Allie.”
“Freshman fifteen, here I come,” Alice-Anne said.
“God, if you play this right, you might weigh in at a solid 105 by the time you graduate college. How would any of us recognize you?” Audra said with a laugh.
“I’m Alice-Anne Andrei-Abbott. Just stand back because no one’s going to mess with me.”
“Kinda like this new you I never knew existed,” Audra said as they walked out of the house.
“Learning more about myself every day, actually.”
“More than I ever did, it seems,” Audra said, gazing out the window.
“Now let’s get out of here and enjoy ourselves one of the last times before you’re seen with your college girl daughter come September.”
“Ow!” Alice-Anne said in the restaurant as her mother reached out and gave her hand a tight squeeze.”
“Promise me you’ll always be my little girl?”
“Quite depends on how many of these fries I can wolf down, I think. Really, Mom?”
“Seriously, Allie, Alice-Anne, my all grown up, thinking for herself young woman, just don’t…you know.”
“That’s another reason I’m keeping all my names, Ms. Andrei. Very important that people know who I am, but also who I come from. Why are you crying now, Mom?”
“Extra onions on this burger. You know how they get to me.”
“Zesty things, like us,” Alice-Anne said, winking from what she was sure were the invisible onions on her mother’s burger.
You’ll have to forgive the going-nowhere-and-not-very-fast nature of this little story. It was an exercise I attempted in order to break out of this creative stasis that’s enamored me for the past several months. “What exercise?” you might ask. Give each sentence a closer look, at least at the right-hand end of it. Now the next one. And the next…
I wanted to finish it with my first circuit, but ended up going around twice. Let’s just say it wasn’t as easy as ABC, but was fun to meet the character of Alice-Anne. That first sentence just sort of magically appeared on the top of the page and dragged me across the creative river from there. (And yes, I cheated on the Xs. You try breaking out of something like this. You’ll cheat, too.)