Unfortunately Christened

By Jess Leather

You hear about misguided baby names all the time. Le-a and Female are pretty popular in the ‘friend of a friend’ urban legends - but I think I’m the first one to have my name.

I tend to go by Ava, day to day. It’s not the name on my birth certificate, though. My mother’s not the brightest, bless her. On the day I was born she was flicking idly through a newspaper, trying to get inspired for this creature she now had to raise. She wanted something pretty, something feminine, but strong.

I was to be her opposite. Having spent her life a plain, ordinary Jane - not even Jayne-with-a-y - I needed to be interesting from birth. Mum always wanted to be called Claudia, herself, or Madison, or Felicity, something a bit unusual for working-class England.

She didn’t even bother to read the context around what became my name. She just loved it from the start.

I suppose it’s helped with her general aims, you know, in making me a good person. Because I don’t want to live up to my name, I have to do the opposite.

We never had much money, but I got a scholarship to a good school. All the other girls had expensive haircuts, designer clothes, holidays abroad... but I never let myself feel envy. Even though there was enough food in the canteen to give everyone square meals for the rest of their lives, I never let myself have dessert - I couldn’t give in to the greed.

I work in a coffee shop in a shopping centre, and there’s always at least a crate full of paninis left at the end of the night. So I haul them into a bin bag, sit them next to me on the bus, and hand them out to as many homeless people as I can find.

I live in a tiny flat, as bare as I can possibly keep it. I don’t own a television, and I get most of my clothes from charity shops. My walls are white - I try to tell myself this is because it’s calming, but really, the paint was cheaper. I like to give as high a percentage of my wages to charity as I possibly can.

Material things just don’t interest me: I’ve spent so many years training myself not to care.

Maybe things would have been different if my mother had seen a different word in the newspaper that day. Chastity, perhaps. Or Epiphany. Even Sterling. Any of these words that my mother still probably wouldn’t understand would have been fine, perhaps then I wouldn’t have spent my entire life trying to keep away from the darkness.

Because my name would lead to darkness, you see. If I was to do what my name suggests, I would be an awful person: in spirit and soul. I would spend my life staring at the ground, I would be that obsessed with earthly things.

My name is Avarice, you see, and I can’t run that risk.

If you enjoyed Unfortunately Christened you can buy the e-book of Flash Fiction Fest 2013 "Deadly Sins" for Kindle, iBooks or Google Play.

Other Stories from Tuesday 12th November

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