(Out of respect for the various political and religious beliefs represented by readers of Governing Ana, I submit this flash fiction with only one explanatory note: I promised to name my next protagonist Ruth.)
Ruth Arabella Manderson, or R. Arabella as she listed on her business cards, had always hated her name.
“I named you after one of the most powerful women in the country,” her mother told her whenever Ari complained. “I wanted you to be strong enough to stand up for your beliefs when the majority told you that you were wrong.”
“It’s ugly!” Ari scowled as kindergarteners, third graders, and high schoolers teased her. “Why couldn’t I have at least been Arabella Ruth, if you were determined to make me the butt of schoolyard jokes?” Every September, she endured the snickers of classmates who made granny-glasses eyes at her with their fingers.
“Someday, you’ll grow into a Ruth,” her mother promised her, unfazed. “When Nevaeh and Aaliyah have lost their appeal, you’ll be the classy lady with a name of power.”
Nevertheless, Ari despised her name until the day she got the phone call saying her mother had been rushed to the ER. Ari tore through three red lights and a stop sign, heart in her mouth as she burst into the curtained area.
“Ruth,” her mother called, extending her hand from underneath frightening, alien tubes and wires. And as Ari kissed the pale, trembling fingers, she realized she had never before heard a word she loved more.
“Yes, Mom,” she answered. “It’s me. Ruth.”