What’s In a Name

I did this exercise for the Gotham Writing Workshop and I wanted to share this draft because it was fun.  Here goes:

andreahurley2Amy. Such a short name–a simple name. A name reserved for a sun-bleached blond girl who fishes with the boys and wants to hook the worms, curious about the guts of dirt. Amy, the small one at home, easy to miss. No one would notice the bruises.
Amy, simply put, who jumps trains at age eleven, with the Forrest Gump soundtrack playing out of speakers that are wrapped around her bike’s handlebars, Walkman in the fanny pack. “Rebel Rouser”, “San Francisco”, “Volunteers”, “California Dreamin.’”
“…Be sure to wear flowers in your hair…”

Amy—in a simple white dress at a small coffee shop, hair in braids, where a Vietnam Vet takes her to the piano and plays and sings to her “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The July sun streaming through the open French doors, shadows dancing across the wood floor planks as the local hippies sip their soymilk teas.
“But she smiled at me so sadly
That my anger straightway died
If music be the food of love
Then laughter is its queen
And likewise if behind is in front
Then dirt in truth is clean…”

Two syllables, quickly said in anger by a sick mother, calling her longer names as she blossoms into the girl of her stepfather’s dreams, blossoms into the illnesses of her mother. She hides in her room with weapons at the ready, playing “Free Bird” and no longer able to cry. Simple labels—bipolar, depressed, anxious, piss-ant, bitch. Amy means many things.

On the chart, nurses read “Amy” and make their comments, as she sits in her scrubs avoiding group therapy, counting the paper ornaments on the tree. “Time for her antipsychotics.”
She doesn’t cry—doesn’t want to be noticed. Fade into the background and no one will see.

Amy, simply complicated, who can never name herself, seeing herself in nouns.


images by Andrea Hurley @ Etsy




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