A Name Well Chosen

It was shortly after the turn of the century. Two teenage stage-struck girls left the Winston Opera House in love with the lead baritone.

“I don’t have enough money for the trolley,” Becka said.

“Where did it all go?” Midgy said.

“I bought a program,” Becka said and romantically sighed. “It has a picture of our prince in it.”

“Oh, let me see, let me see,” Midgy said trying to reach for the program and Becka held it from her.

“First,” Becka said. “Don’t criticize me for not having fare for the trolley.”

“I’d rather have a picture of our prince any ole day,” Midgy said and Becka handed her the program. She opened it. “Look at him, Becka. So fair and handsome. Byron Jackson, such a strong name.” She held the program to her chest and longingly closed her eyes.

“Midgy!” Becka said. “We got to get to the hospital before they lock the doors. Mama will worry about us. We’ll have to rush without taking the trolley.”

The girls dashed down the gas lit streets on a cold November evening. The wind funneled through old Victorian homes where the lights were being turned off and people were going to bed.

Becka and Midgy ran until they ran out of breath and walked. As soon at they caught their breath they ran again.

“What time do the doors lock?” Midgy said rushing a step behind Becka.

“Nine o’clock,” Becka said.

“It’s still three blocks away,” Midgy said.

Just then the clock from the bank in the public square gonged nine times.

“I hope Mama and our baby brother are doing fine,” Becka said slowing to an unhurried pace.

Midgy caught up with her. “Mama will be worried sick. As if not giving birth to a new child is not enough, two silly girls infatuated with an opera star don’t have the sense to save money back for the trolley.”

“I’m going to marry him,” Becka said.

“Who?” Midgy said.

“Byron Jackson,” Becka said. “That’s all I can think about.”

“No,” Midgy said. “He will marry me.”

“I’m older and more mature,” Becka said.

“I have prettier eyes,” Midgy said. “He likes pretty eyes.”

“How do you know that,” Becka said.

“All men like pretty eyes,” Midgy said.

“I have breasts,” Becka said.

“Mine will be coming along,” Midgy said.

“By then I will be married to Byron Jackson,” Becka said. “And if you’re nice you can be my maid of honor.”

“You are only fourteen,” Midgy said.

“And you are twelve,” Becka said.

“Mama would never allow you to get married until you finish school,” Midgy said.

“Once she sees how handsome he is and how rich he is, she will let me marry him,” Bekca said.

“Look,” Midgy said. “The lobby is dark. The doors must be locked.”

They went to the front door of the hospital and looked through the glass. There was a desk at the far end of the room that resembled a judge’s bench. Behind it was a middle aged nurse. Behind her was a small switch board. She was reading a magazine.

“We were late last night,” Becka said. “That was the same nurse.”

“And she said, ’no exceptions,’” Midgy said.

“I know how to get in,” Becka said.

“How?” Midgy said.

“The nurses’ entrance,” Becka said.

The girls walked around to the side of the brick single story hospital and stealthily entered a side door. They crept along the hallway until they reached Mama’s room.

She was in bed nursing her three-day old son with a bottle.

Mama looked up. “Where have you girls been?”

“I spent the trolley money on a program,” Becka said. “And so we ran nearly all the way to get here.”

The girls looked at their brother and stroked his cheek and fine hair.

“He’s so handsome, Mama,” Midgy said.

“He’s as handsome as our prince,” Becka said dramatically.

“What is she talking about?” Mama said.

“Becka’s in love with an opera singer,” Midgy said.

“I am not,” Becka said.

“You are too,” Midgy said. “Said you were going to marry him.”

“You said you were as soon as you got breast,” Becka countered.

“Girls,” Mama said quietly. “You’ll upset your brother and get thrown out like riffraff.”

Becka held the picture of their opera singer next to their brother. “Look, Midgy and Mama, don’t they look-alike.”

“They sure do,” Mama said.

“They are both so handsome,” Midgy said.

“Mama,” Becka said. “Have you named our brother yet.”

“Well, no,” Mama said thoughtfully.

“You got to name him after our opera singer,” Becka said. “They are both so handsome.”

“What is his name?” Mama said.

“Byron Jackson,” Midgy said.

“That’s a good name,” Mama said. “Than Byron Jackson it will be.”


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