Monday, 15 April 2013

What’s in a name?

This week’s challenge from terribleminds was to write the story that goes with the opening lines people made up last week.
I had no inspiration for an opening line but he was flooded with entries. He gave a choice of fifteen. I liked this one.
My brother’s birth was preceded by three distinct and inexplicable phenomena. — Jason Heitkamper 
My effort is 993 words. Phew… just made it under the 1k limit. Oops. Maybe over if you count the line itself.
What’s in a name?
My brother’s birth was preceded by three distinct and inexplicable phenomena. 
At breakfast Nanna fell face first into her porridge. Truthfully that was pretty normal, what with her narcolepsy, so no one took much notice, but when she lifted her head up again she pointed at the walls and started screaming.
Nothing got between kids in our house and food. It wasn’t a meal time, it was a feeding frenzy. No one in our house had ever said, ‘I’m not hungry, I might have something later,’ because there was no later. You ate it now or you went without. So, if you were not even the tiniest bit hungry, you sat at the table and you fought for what you could fit on your plate and then you ate it. You ate it all.
Leftovers? Forget about it.
Nanna pointing and screaming made us look up from our porridge. It was then we noticed the blood. It ran down the floral wallpaper in a seemingly endless curtain of red rivulets.
We all froze; not sure how Mom would take this.
Mom came out from the kitchen with the saucepan in one hand and the wooden spoon in the other, ready to serve more porridge. She did notice Nanna screaming. She glanced the way she was pointing and said, “Oh now, would you look at that.” She was at the nine months pregnant stage and had achieved bovine nirvana. Literally nothing upset her. It was all about the baby. “That reminds me. Honey?” she called. “Did you take The Shining DVD back to the store?”
Dad shouted something back at her that seemed to make her happy and she started serving more porridge.
It was her seventh kid and you would have thought she’d be used to it by now, but she told everyone that this child was special.
None of us believed it. She had said that for the last few as well.
But this time Dad actually agreed with her. It was probably a boy, so that made it the seventh son of a seventh son. It was supposed to mean something. We all rolled our eyes anytime anyone said that. All it meant to me was that they couldn’t manage to have a girl. I wasn’t even sure I wanted one now, but they kept trying.
Nanna mercifully fell asleep again, so the screaming stopped and we could all chow down without interruption.
As the eldest, it was my job to get all the littlies ready for school. I shoved lunches into bags, straightened ties and did up shoe laces. We did a walking bus thing; we made up half the damn bus all by ourselves, but we would collect other kids and they would all walk with us. If they were brave enough.
Today, nobody was. Just as well.
It was on the way to school that we experienced the time slip. That was the second inexplicable phenomenon. We literally ran into ourselves coming home from school. Well, not all of us; Eros and Fytch were still too young and were at home. We could tell that the other ‘we’ had been to school because Damien’s collar was torn and had blood on it. He’d probably been in a fight, and we all looked worn and dishevelled.
“Ha! Look at us!” said Baal. “You need a haircut AJ.”
“I do not,” I protested. My name was Ajeya. Supposedly it was the name of a Hindu god but I’d seen it pop up on baby girl name-lists lately and I was not happy about that. Everyone called me AJ.
I was watching Cain, because you always watched Cain. Know what I mean?
The two Cains grinned at each other mischievously. They looked like they were already planning something; they didn’t even need to speak.
“We just left the house,” I suggested. “So you lot ought to go to the park or something.”
“Sure,” the other AJ agreed. “That makes sense.”
“No, it doesn’t,” argued Baal. “It’s home time for them-”
“Yeah, but not for us.”
“I hate temporal anomalies,” he said. “They always give me a headache.”
“Me too,” agreed the other Baal. And then they both laughed.
We all arranged to meet later if they were still around. We watched them head towards the park. I suspected that they wouldn’t be there later… or was it us that wouldn’t be there? Maybe Baal was right; that shit was headache inducing.
My head really did ache and when I turned to look at Damien his eyes were completely black. Tick the box for the third inexplicable phenomenon.
“Whoa! Does that hurt?” asked Damien.
“You tell me. Your eyes are black, too.”
“We had better go home,” Cain suggested.
We did. But when we arrived home, we felt wobbly for a second and then we all resembled the group we had just passed. Damien’s collar was torn. We looked like we had been at school all day.
“I’m hungry,” I said.
“Guess we skipped lunch,” said Cain.
Eros came toddling out the front door to meet us. “Baby!” he cried.
“Already? Has she had it, then?” I scooped him up. He had been eating and his face was sticky. “Where’s Fytch?” I asked him.
He looked at me with his huge dark eyes. “Love Eros?” he asked.
“Yes, AJ loves Eros.” Always the emotional blackmail with this kid.
“After you show me where he is.”
He pointed off into the house and I found the baby asleep in his automatic rocker. I guess he wasn’t the baby anymore if we had a new one.
Dad appeared in the doorway looking tired. “Home already?”
“Time slip,” said Baal. “And black eyes.”
“That makes three, after the blood,” I added.
“Huh. He really is special.” He looked pleased. “Come and meet your brother Gabriel.”
“You cannot call him Gabriel,” said Cain. “It’s a nice name.”
“Names are what you make of them,” said our father.
Easy for him to say; his name was Loki.
© AM Gray 2013



  1. I can never hear/read the name 'Damien' without The Omen's Ave Satani playing in my head. Great story, I loved how nonchalant the children were about the 'omen.'

    1. exactly what I was shooting for. They all had creepy 'evil' names... thanks for reading!