There exists a deeply rooted need to name and to be named. Since ancient times, humans have felt compelled to name things. At age three, I named my stuffed tiger Sheetha. At five, I named my black-haired doll with amber eyes Diarrhea. Not knowing it’s meaning, I thought it a lovely sounding name, but the neighborhood girls stopped playing with me.
When I dropped out of college, I bought a gray rusty Honda Civic that I named The Velveteen Rabbit. I cried when it died and had to be towed away. A man on a motorcycle pulled up, dried my tears, and offered me a ride. I named him Dare because he was ready to take on anything. We decided to take on marriage and then parenthood. I gave birth to a baby boy and we baptized him with two Jewish names. On Jonah Adam’s seventh birthday, he and Dare both died when the motorcycle hit a sandy patch and then a cypress tree.
According to the ancients, to tame something you must name it. I named my pain Dolores. She only spoke in her native language, but I was a quick learner. Living in the Hollywood Hills, I listened to her anguish rise on the Santa Anna winds. Lamentar la perdida. Lament the loss. Dolores and I cried into the hills, but she remained untamed.
I read a book The Name of the Wind where wizards call the wind by name and it transports them to a magical place. Every night I called a name from atop my Hollywood Hills. I started with Mariah—the wind is not called Mariah.
I became a writer to banish my pain. My favorite part was naming my characters: Lyla, Jerome, Maggie, Mrs. Hoppy, Kara, Rupert. I never finished one story, but I picked perfect names and it brought healing.
Like Adam in Genesis 2:20, I gave names to all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals including the feral cats. While I petted the kitten Catarina, the wind came calling again, but I didn’t try to name it. Instead, it called my name. “Clarissa.” The “s” was slightly hissed. I looked down the canyon and saw Dare. I followed the feral cats as they ran to greet him.
Margo Rife is a playwright, fiction writer and podcaster. She prefers small word count so is drawn to monologues, micro/flash, and novellas-in-flash. Her short dramatic writing has been staged in NYC, NC and Chicago. Her fiction work has been published by Outré Review, Blink Ink, Idle Ink, The Wrong Coat Anthology, Trembling with Fear and elsewhere. Margo’s novella-in-flash Snowbirds was developed in a Meg Pokrass Workshop. The podcast she edits is produced at the LaGrange Library. Twitter: @rife_margo https://newplayexchange.org/users/28750/margo-rife