A short short story by Susan Walsh

My name is Muchacha, because my mother liked the sound of it. And this is what I call my life: stupid, because it is. I’ll be walking home from school, and some guy yells, “Hey Muchacha,” and I don’t know if it’s someone calling my name, or someone just being a jerk. Just in case I never turn around. It was a mean thing to do. Naming me “Girl.” Besides, the fact I’m not even Latina.

“Were you high, when you picked out that name?” I asked my mother.

“No, just young.”

I saw a glisten in her eye. She sat down at the little bistro table that passed as our kitchen table, turning the cup with flowers on it around in her hands.

“You know names can be destiny,” I said. “For instance, if your name is Bambi, or Brandy you have to be a porn star or a topless dancer.”

“Then it could be worse,” my mother said.

I looked at her there, in her ponytail, with the brightly painted cabinets behind her—all her own work, the orange, the teal, the mural on the wall. Whose kitchen had a mural in it? No wonder I didn’t have a normal name. The mural and the crazy-quilt colors had embarrassed me when I was a kid.

“I loved how it sounds,” my mother said. “Happy, colorful, like a sunbeam dancing across a floor.”

She was hopeless. I went up to my room and sat on the bed, the windows open and a breeze blowing through the pink cloud of curtains. My computer was in my lap. I watched the shadows move across the lime-green wall.

I had been doing research. You can re-name yourself. Once you’re eighteen. Which I had just turned. You can choose any name you want and no one can stop you. I downloaded the paperwork. Then, began to search for my name. I could be anyone. I could be Emma or Nora.

But when I looked at myself in the mirror with the mosaic frame, I knew I wasn’t an Emma or a Nora. I went down the alphabet searching for my new identity. I wasn’t an Allison or an Anne. Certainly not a Beth or Bethany, no Claire or Carla. All the way to Zoe. Which I also was not.

I put the papers into the recycling basket under my turquoise nightstand. I went downstairs to tell my mother. I thought she might want to know. She had a Girl.


© 2017 Susan Walsh