He was there, across the room, standing with three or four others busy with what looked like friendly banter among good friends. Hannah felt her heart rate increase when she spied him and was mortified to realize that this was shaping up to feel just like a school girl crush. How old was she anyway, 13? It seemed silly to be feeling this way about someone she didn’t even know. She fidgeted with the buckle on her bag for a moment and struggled to make her feet move. Hannah knew her cheeks were flushed and she chided herself for being so shy and so awkward. Thoughts chased in her head like a hamster on a wheel; remember it’s a new year, time for new resolutions! Carry them through! Make a new start she told herself. Reach out and make friends! NO more Hannah the wallflower!
Resolved to try, Hannah made her way quietly toward the back of the hall where volunteers were serving coffee and cookies. The after-the-service social hour was always a nice time to fellowship. That’s what the pastor said anyway. Before today Hannah exited the building soon after worship and headed home, feeling all the better for having gone to church in the first place. Maybe today was the day to linger. She picked up the coffee pot and poured the steaming liquid into a styrofoam cup. When she turned she saw him approaching the coffee counter. Still in conversation with someone in the cluster he called out over his shoulder “yeah, sure, two sugars. No problem” He was grinning as he caught Hannah’s eye and she gasped just a little as he turned inward toward the coffee pot. “Hi there” he said to her.
“Oh. Yeah. Hi,” she managed to sputter as she felt her heart leap into her throat again.
He poured two coffees and held them steadily in one hand. With the other he swept through the basket of sugar packets, coming up with four in his fist. He turned again, saw Hannah again, and said “You new?”
“Yes,” she said. “Er…. I’m Hannah.”
“Well, come and join us Anna, you can meet some friends.”
“Oh, right… okay… I can do that.” She stammered. “I’ll follow you.” She hesitated, and then began again. “But my name is….”
“Well, come on then.” He smiled and she melted. “Can you grab some of those plastic stirrers for us?”
“Oh, okay. Yes. Right. Sure.” Hannah awkwardly grabbed a handful of swizzle sticks, knocking the cup over in the process. God. What a wreck I am, she thought. Someone smiles at me and I turn to jello.
Hannah shadowed behind and as they reached the others, she smiled. “Hi, I am…”
“Hey guys, this is Anna. Say hello!”
“Hi Anna, I’m Jami.”
“Hey Anna, nice to meet you, I’m Chase. I think I’ve seen you here before.”
“Yeah, I have come here a couple of times before today. I, uh, think it seems, you know, nice here.” Hannah began. She handed Chase a stick from the stash in her hand. “Just to tell you though, I am….”
“Anna, hi, I have a sister with the same name. I am Troy and it’s great that you’re here; just great.”
“Thanks Troy, but…”
“So, Anna, that’s everyone ‘cept me of course. I am John. I know, I know, not a very original name, but trust me I am a one of a kind.”
The others laughed at that line and chimed in with “that’s the truth” and “hear, hear!” as the giggles turned to smiles.
“Well,” Hannah said. “It’s really nice to meet you all. Really. Thanks. Um… but…er…my name….”
“Hey Anna,” John interrupted. “We generally go eat breakfast on Sundays over at the café on the corner. You want to join us today? We would love to have you along Anna.” John looked at her and grinned again. That smile of his was so genuine and so warm and so… Hannah didn’t know what. She grinned back. Tagging along might give her a chance to clear up the confusion about her name, and would definitely give her the time to get to know this original John a little better.
“Sure” she said.
“Cool, come on then. It will be nice to get to know you better, Anna.” He paused, then added. “Anna. That’s one of my favorite names, you know….”
As Hannah filed out the front doors of the church behind the others, she couldn’t help but smile and thought to herself, that, yes, it might be nice to get to know Anna herself. After all, she was on her way to breakfast with new friends. Who knew just what Anna might do next?
For Jenn in Holland this is the first foray into fiction, in, oh, say about 1000 years. Jenn wants to thank Alex Elliot of Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting for the fun story idea of as the inspiration for this piece. In her words:
Two characters. One guy (or girl) that you have a crush on and yourself. Your crush gets your name wrong etc. and proceeds to introduce you to an entire party of people incorrectly. That was inspired by me being at the grocery store trying to get something for my secret pal (like secret santa) and running into someone who's in the participating group. I was so anxious to get away from her so she couldn't see what I was buying that if she would have introduced me to her husband with the wrong name, I would have agreed.
A big thanks also goes to Jen of A2Eatwrite for creating the game, inciting the challenge and providing the venue for our stories.