What’s in a name?

After the wonderful response I got from my posts Man Meet’s World and What a Mistake!, I decided to write the conversation I had with my characters about renaming them?

Ideas

It didn’t turn out how I thought it would. It seemed funnier in my head but it’s actually quite sad. Andy was really mad at me for other reasons and then I had to change his name. It was bad timing. But I’m the writer and he’s my character. No one wants to read a book about how people went about their day, living in a blissful Utopian society with no angst or drama. It’s boring to write and even worse to read.

This is a little glimpse inside my head – It comes with a warning. ‘Don’t linger!’ It really is a weird place. Even my long suffering husband looked at me after reading it and shook his head. He may have called me weird, but I take that as a compliment! Caution

This little scene below takes place after my first book, so there is some coupling in here that happens during that timeline, but I don’t think I give too much away. Also keep in mind this is the conversation about changing their names, so just so you aren’t all confused: Joey = Andy. He’s the only one you’ve met so far. Also note how difficult it is to read with Jay, Joey and Jackson – Way too many J names! Imagine a whole book of that!

Hope you like it.


 

I let myself into Brian and Joey’s apartment. Every time I’m here I wonder if I can really afford to breathe the air, let alone walk on the marble floors. Brian’s parents spared no expense in setting up their son in Australia, even though Brian is embarrassed by the ‘epic waste of money,’ in his own words.

“Alright guys, I have some news,” I announce as I walk into the main living area, trying not to brush against the white walls.

Layla climbs over Brian on the lounge, her smile stretching across her face, “Hey Lisa! We didn’t know you were here.”

I step into her open arms and she hugs me tight, whispering in my ear, “Thank you for him. I don’t deserve him, but I’m so happy he’s mine.”

I squeeze her back harder, “Oh, hon. You deserve him and so much more.”

She pulls back first and wipes her eyes as Maxine and Jackson come in from the balcony, holding hands.

Maxine sees me and lets out a high pitched squeal, “Lisa! Where have you been?!”

She launches herself at me and I stumble backwards. Jackson waves from the other side of the room, and I raise an eyebrow at him. Unlike everyone else here, I know exactly what they were doing out on the balcony. He blushes and pulls his baseball cap down over his eyes.

“Well. I’ve been busy. Just starting on Jay’s book and talking to Joey about his. But you know Joey, he’s being stubborn.”

“Good luck with that!” Brian flicks off the ice hockey game and stands up, stretching his arms over his head and his shirt rides up over his stomach. I’m reminded why people stare at him. Standing at six foot, seven inches tall with long blonde hair and the type of skin you get from being on a surfboard all day, he really was eye wateringly beautiful. He catches me staring and I get a flash of those devastating dimples as he smiles.

“Do I get a hug?” he holds out his arms wide, “or are you just going to stare at the goods all day?”

He smiles wider and I glance at Layla who is laughing behind her hand. I step into his arms and get a crushing bear hug that leaves my feet dangling in the air. He releases me and holds onto my arms while I steady my legs. Unfortunately, he knows the effect he has on me, he is completely overwhelming. There’s just so much of him.

“So,” I turn away from him fanning my face, “Jay and Joey should be here by now.”

“Hockey training,” Layla says opening the fridge and pulling out a bottle of water for me.

“Thanks,” I take it and roll it around in my hands, looking at the water swishing inside, it’s how my gut felt, all turbulent waves. I didn’t want to have to do this.

“Is there something wrong?” Jackson pulls Maxine against him, his thick arm around her chest, holding her to him.

“No,” I reply and give him a smile, which I hope is reassuring, “I’m not some capricious God here, guys. I actually want you to get your happily ever after.”

Jackson drops a kiss on Maxine’s head but he doesn’t let her go.

The front door bangs open and Jay’s voice comes down the hallway.

“It’s not my fault you couldn’t make the shot. You lost the bet fair and square Joey! Pay up!”

“Piss off! The only reason I missed is because you knocked my stick at the last moment. So you can take your bet and shove it up your…”

Jay skids to a stop in the middle of the hallway when he sees me. Joey runs into the back of him, making him stumble forward.

He steadies himself and comes right at me. He isn’t wearing a shirt and his skin is still shiny with sweat. He doesn’t slow down and grabs my waist, holding me tight against him. Kissing the side of my neck, he puts me down and I blink like a deer caught in headlights. He smells like clean sweat and mint. Jay gives off this vibe that’s addictive, it’s a devil may care attitude mixed with an earthy sexiness and I find it hard to keep a straight face when I look at him, every time I talk to Jay, which has been a lot lately, I can’t seem to wipe the goofy grin off my face.

Until I lock eyes with Joey. He drops his hockey bag and it lands with a thump on the marble floor, his hockey stick thrown down on top of it.

“What are you doing here?”

“She’s here to see me obviously,” Jay snags my water bottle and drinks half of it. Handing it back to me with a wink he flings his arm around my shoulder.

“Ah, yes. Actually. I’m here to see him and Jackson and you.”

Joey rolls his eyes and gets his own water from the fridge, “Hashtag awesome.”

I shuffle my feet as he takes a big drink of water.

“What’s it going to be this time? Does Jay go to hospital again? Or wait, wait,” he purses his lips together, his finger tapping his mouth while the thinks and I wonder why on Earth I let Joey out of my head! “I know! I know! I get my heart ripped out of my chest! Maybe there’s another dude I fall in love with and then you’re going to take him away. Although we’ve already played that game, haven’t we, Lisa?”

I drop my head, my lip quivering. He has every right to be angry with me, all of that had happened and more.

Jay squeezes my shoulder,“Ease up Joe. It’s not her fault!”

“Please,” he rolls his eyes, “You’re just saying that because she’s writing your book now! Two words Jay. SUCK. UP!”

Brian moves in between us, holding his hands up, “Can I ask one question?”

“Sure,” I smile at the mischievous glint in his eye.

“Are Layla and I good?” he pulls her towards him and looks down at her with so much adoration it hurts to look at them. I look up at Jay and see the pain on his face, watching Brian and Layla together hurts him most of all.

Jay recovers and straightens his shoulders, “She’s going to get sick of you, lover boy and I’ll be here waiting.”

Brian snorts and I nod, “You’re good B.” He almost sags against Layla in relief.

I poke Jay in the ribs, “And you Jay! You will be very happy,” I don’t miss the way he flicks his eyes over to Layla, “Trust me.”

Joey slams his bottle of water on the kitchen counter, “Yeah, what a fabulous idea.” and pushes past us to get to the balcony.

Brian moves to go after him but I hold up my hand, “Let me, we have some things to talk about.”

He frowns and looks over the top of my head at Joey, “Alright, I’ll be here if you need me.”

The cold air hits me like a thousand needles and I shove my hands deep into my coat pockets. He’s leaning against the far railing, his hands gripping the metal bar so hard his fingers are white.

“Why?” his voice is rough on the wind.

“You mean about Nathan?”

He turns and gives me a look that lets me know exactly what he thinks of me – which isn’t much.

“No, my other boyfriend of four years. Yes, Nate!”

Skirting the pool, I pull one of the sun lounges close to the railing and sit down, wrapping my arms around my chest to keep warm.

“I’m sorry about Nate. I really am Joey, but I can’t make you guys do something you don’t want to.”

“But I love him,” his hands slam down on the railing and his voice is so raw. I almost tell him that I’ll fix it, that I’ll get Nate back for him. But I don’t because I can’t. So, I tell him the only thing I can.

“Nate isn’t in love with you Joey. Not anymore.”

I wait for the yelling and the rage. I wait for him to stomp around the balcony calling me every bad thing he can think of, but he doesn’t do any of that. That I could have handled, I was used to Joey being pissed off. I didn’t expect this, the small curling of his shoulders and the rasping noise his breath made as it left his body.

“Is there anything you can do?” he turns to me and I see how much Nate hurt him, how much I hurt him.

“I can write your book Joey. I can give you your own story,” I swallow back my tears.

“No. I don’t want anyone if I can’t have him.”

“Joey, you…”

“I said no,” his voice was quiet, but the command in his tone was unmistakable. I drew in a sharp breath, the cold air stinging my lungs. Joey was never short, prone to long bouts of verbose arguments. But never short.

“Alright. That’s not what I’m here to talk about anyway.”

“This should be good. You’re never here just to say hello.”

“No, I suppose I’m not. Wait a minute.” I call out for Jackson and Jay.

Jay comes out first, a big bag of Twisties in one hand. He sits down in front of me straddling the sun lounge and holds the bag under my nose.

“Here. Have some. They’re your favourite.” I sink my hand into the bag giving him my goofy grin again, they really are my favourite and if I said no he would just keep on offering until I took some.

Jackson joins us sitting on the lounge opposite, his face pulled into tight lines.

“Relax, Jackie. I just have to make a couple of changes, it won’t hurt a bit.”

“Can we move this along, please?” Joey snags the chips off Jay, “I have an exam in the morning.”

Taking a deep breath, “Alright. I need to change your names.” There it was done.

“What do you mean change them?” Jackson sat forward leaning his elbows on his knees.

“Your first names, well yours and Joey’s.” I keep my eyes on Jackson, because there is no way I am looking at Joey.

“Why doesn’t Jay have to change his name?” I duck as he tosses the Twisties bag back to Jay.

“Because Jay has a bigger part in Layla’s book and it’s easier to change yours and Jackie’s.”

“So we aren’t as important as Jay?” He pushes away from the balcony and moves to the poolside bar fridge. He pulls out a metallic cocktail shaker and takes a gulp.

“That’s not what I mean and you know it!” I go to his spot by the railing as he finishes the rest of the drink.

“Fine. Do whatever you want, you will anyway.”

Jay stretches out on the lounge, his hands behind his head and I wonder if he’s cold without a shirt on, because I am freezing!

“She can’t help it that she prefers me over you,” he winks at me and I pinch the bridge of my nose, he wasn’t helping, “I’m pretty irresistible.”

“Is it just my name that’s changing?” Jackson asked.

I nod looking out at the twinkling lights of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“Yep. What do you think about the name, Hunter?”

He joins me at the railing, leaning on his forearms. “I like Hunter. Ah, do me and Max?” he hesitates and I look up at him, really look at him for the first time tonight.

With all of Joey’s antics and Jay’s womanising,  Jackson is usually the quiet, steady presence. But right now he’s sucking his lip in and out of his mouth, and cracking his knuckles. I put my hand over his and squeeze them tight.

“I don’t know yet. Just make each other happy. I can only write what I see. You guys tell me the story.” I run my hand up over his arm feeling the rough hairs rasp against my skin. “She’ll like your new name. I picked it for her.”

His smile was blinding and his energy completely changed. Kissing my cheek, he jogged inside.

In his haste he leaves the glass door open and I hear him call out, “Hey babe! Start running, I’m your new Hunter.” So the sleazy innuendo has begun, I thought it might take him a little longer than ten seconds.

Jay chuckles and sucks his fingers clean of the yellow chip flavouring. “What about Sunshine over here? What’s his name?” He smirks at Joey, “Please let it be Fabio.”

“It’s not Fabio,” I try to hide my smile but it’s impossible with Jay.

“I thought I’d let him choose it.”

Joey raises his brows, “Just call me Misery.”

“No.”

“Sorrow.”

“No.”

“Agony.”

“No. What about Pain In My Ass?” I retort, slapping away a piece of hair that got caught in the wind.

“Is that a gay joke?”

“No!” I take a step forward and shove my face in front of his, “It’s a ‘you’re a frustrating moron’ joke!” I turn away and pace along the railing until the cold wind burns my cheeks.

“What about Andrew? Andy for short?”

His mouth tilts up on one side, “It’ll do.”

I scratch my head confused, “Is that it?”

He shrugs, “Yeah, I don’t give a shit anyway, because I don’t want a book.”

“Fine. I won’t write one about you!”

“Fine!”

“Fine!” I yell back stomping my foot. Great! He’s managed to reduce me to a five year old.

“Are we done here, oh Great One? I have shit to do.” He bows low and I resist the urge to push him in the pool, only just.

I flop down into a lounge and wave him off. “Yeah, go.”

He turns without another word and slams the glass door shut on his way inside.

“That went better than I expected,” I lie back and throw my arm over my face.

“Lis?” Jay says softly.

“Hmmm.”

When he doesn’t reply I sit up and watch him, watching Layla and Brian hugging in the kitchen. His face full of longing.

“I meant what I said before, Jay. They really are going to be okay.”

He shakes his head and in an instant the sadness is gone, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m fine. I’ve slept with three women this week, and it’s only Tuesday.”

I sigh and haul myself up from the lounge. Tapping his foot, I give him a sad smile, “I know everything about you Jay De Angelis. I know why you sleep with these women, and I know what’s in your heart.” I glance inside Layla and Brian.

“I’ll see you later, Jay.”

I start to pull shut the sliding door and Jay calls out, “Hey! Why didn’t you really change my name?”

I grin and tell him what he needs to hear, “Because you’re my favourite!” and it’s kind of true.

“I knew it!” He waves and I close the door leaving him alone in the dark, the wind whipping his hair.

I say quick goodbyes to everyone except Joey, I mean Andy, and wave away Brian’s offer to walk me back to my car.

Stepping out onto Elizabeth Street, I take a deep breath. The smell of trees in Hyde Park is mixed with the smells of the City.

“Lisa,” Andy calls coming up behind me.

“Andy?”

He smiles down at me, “I think I like it. My new name.”

“Yeah?” I pull my coat tight around me and lean back taking in his whole face.

He swallows and looks across the road at the park, “Look, I’m sorry about before. I just…”

“I get it,” I punch him lightly on the arm and he reaches for my right hand. He turns it over gently, his long fingers smoothing down my skin.

“You alright, Andy?”

“I’m just wondering how something so small can cause so much pain.”

“I wonder the same thing too,” I pull my hand back. I want to hug him and tell him it will all be alright. But I know he won’t let me do that or believe me.

“Go on,” He nods to my car. I feel his eyes on me as I get in and press the start button. I flick the blinker on and pull into the traffic. I look back and he’s still watching me and because he doesn’t think I can see him he lets his carefully controlled expression drop. I see everything I know he feels.

It isn’t until I stop at a red light that I realise I’m crying.

 

Come on over and friend me on Facebook at Lisa Lancaster. 

Gif by Giphy
Photo from Pinterest

 

 

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21 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. I loved this imaginative take with your characters and I enjoyed your style of writing. I do this so often – change names of characters, in fact I find character naming the most difficult and one the biggest hurdles to beginning a piece. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Yes. My imaginary friends are real. | Lisa Lancaster

  3. Oh. My. Gosh. This made me laugh so much! There were so many great parts to this. I don’t think I can list them all. And great characterization, by the way.

    Andy is just awesome. But don’t tell him that. He might not believe it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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