Monday 21 March 2022

What’s in a Name?



by Rosemary Johnson

three vodka cocktails


The midwife was fastening the tapes on my first nappy when she turned to my mother and asked, ‘Name?’

‘Er…’ My parents had no idea about a name for me when I was born. I have two older brothers and, so the story goes, they just assumed I’d be another boy.

Now my mum, she’s a great one for the garden. The morning before she went into hospital, she’d been dead-heading large pompom-shaped blooms in vivid colours, gentle pink deepening into crimson red, bright orange melting into lemon yellow. So she said the first thing that came into her head.

Dad registered my birth and Dad is not a great one for checking things. He swore to my mother that he’d said ‘Dahlia’ to the Registrar but when he arrived home they both realised that what was written on my birth certificate - oh so neat and in fountain pen - was ‘Delia’.

I hated it. Yes, as you can imagine, everybody mentioned that cooking woman. So many jokes at school, especially when we were doing home ec. After Year Eight, I did resistant materials.

‘You’re so lucky to be called something nice and straightforward,’ I told my friend, Holly.

Holly wrinkled her nose. ‘A bit prickly, though.’ Then she added, ‘If you really mind about your name so much, you can change it by Deed Poll.’

I found out that you had to be eighteen before you could apply, but I was prepared to wait.  

On my big birthday, Mum and Dad took me out for afternoon tea with the rellies, then afterwards me and Holly went out clubbing. The next day, I downloaded the Deed Poll forms and completed them, even though little hammers were throbbing in my temples, so much so I could hardly see in front of me. I shouldn’t have drunk those vodka cocktails, or, at least, stopped at only one, or even two. Anyway, I managed to fill in the forms, got our neighbours to sign as witnesses and Mum gave me the money to pay the fee. She said what had happened regarding my name was her fault, although it was Dad’s actually.

I sent everything off and waited.

Some weeks later, this official-looking envelope threw itself through our letter box and on to the mat. I ripped it open with my thumb. Mum said be careful not to tear anything but I had just had to get inside. And there it was, my Sealed Deed, my new name.


About the author

Rosemary has had short stories published in The Copperfield Review, Scribble, Mslexia, Fiction on the Web and 101 Words and is seeking a publisher for a novel about the Solidarity period in Poland. She lives with her husband in Essex.
WordPress blog:
Twitter: @REJohnsonWriter
Instagram: @REJohnsonwriter




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