Thursday, January 31, 2008

By Any Other Name

The meeting hall was full. Not over crowded as in standing room only, but certainly teeming with people. Clusters of people engaged in cheerful conversation were scattered throughout the auditorium. Hannah hardly listened to any of the noise around her as her eyes scanned the room. She was aiming for a target, had seen him in the congregation the week before and the week before that and was hoping that this was a three-is-the-charm kind of day. She turned casually as she scanned the faces, hoping that her search wasn’t coming off as desperate.

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 cafĂ© 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.


anno said...

Oh, Jenn, you've got to do this more often! I love how each new introduction as "Anna" made it more difficult for Hannah to correct the error, and I loved how by the end she was thinking that this "anna" might be someone she would like to get to know. Wonderful story!

Thalia's Child said...

Totally cracked me up! Lovely!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Great story, especially after I called you "Wendy" the other day. Coincidence? Or was it my way of introducing this story ... possibly even before it was written? LOL. You are really GOOD at this and should do more of it, lots more.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Wow, Jenn!!! This is just great. I completely loved it. The whole Anna/Hannah thing was hysterical. I just hope Anna becomes Hannah again, eventually.

This was really great - is there ANYTHING you can't do with great talent?!

cablegirl said...

Love it. I can't help but wonder if Hannah is going to become Anna permanently. ;)

Luisa Perkins said...

SO true to life, Jenn. You've got a great ear for dialogue. Well done.

Wholly Burble said...

Oh this was fun. And I got such a kick out of the ending--as she heads off into the "further adventures of Anna"--how delightful, all the possibilities!

You have created such an intriguing possibility for a shy person to "change"--and it happens so off-handed, so casually . . . it all seemed SO true I have become quite fond of Hannah/Anna.

darcy said...

Cute, cute, cute! This was such a fun read. And really, I am surprised to find out you're not a regular fuction writer. You should do this more often!

darcy said...

Oops, I shouldn't type before the first cup of coffee is finished. fuction=fiction *blushes*

Brillig said...

HAHAHAHA. I LOVED it!!! And I have so been in that kind of situation before. Poor Hannah/Anna. But having an alias might turn out to be just the thing Hannah/Anna needs to get out of her shell. SO great! I hope you'll do more of this!!