Friday, July 23, 2010

A good, strong name

"I would have called her Ruth."

"Sorry Ma'am?" The checkout clerk looked up from swiping Anna's few purchases across the scanner.

"Ruth," said Anna, pointing to the young woman's name-tag. "That was the name I had picked out for her."

"Oh," said the young woman, her hand suspended in the air, holding a box of camomile tea.

"It's a good, strong name," said Anna. Her voice turned wistful. "She died before she was born."

Another 'bip' from the scanner as Ruth swiped the tea across it.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am," she said.

Anna waved a slight hand in the air. "It was a long time ago," she said.

She eyed the bright patterns inked into Ruth's left arm, the three silver rings in her left eyebrow.

"Did getting those hurt?"

Ruth glanced down at her tattoos and shook her head. "It felt...intense when I was getting them done, but it was OK."

She looked up again. "I'm really sorry about your daughter."

Anna smiled. "Thank you, Ruth." She gave a slight shrug. "There was nothing anyone could do. She had a hole in her heart."

Her voice turned wistful again. "She left one in mine too."

Ruth reached out and touched Anna's arm. Anna smiled and patted the young woman's hand.

"I'm sorry, my dear. You musn't mind an old woman like me." She looked down at her purchases. "How much do I owe you?"

Ruth glanced at the screen. "Twelve dollars, seventy-two cents," she said. "Are these all to go?"

Anna nodded. "Yes, thank you." She paused as she opened her purse. "Except perhaps the strawberries. Maybe I'll sit and eat a few before I go home." She handed Ruth a twenty dollar bill.

Ruth made the change and gave it to Anna with her purchases.

"I hope you have a good day, Mrs.--"

"Goldberg," said Anna. "Thank you dear. You have been very kind." She looked at the young woman before her. "Ruth. Yes, it is a good name."

Anna took her purchases and sat outside the store at one of the tables there. She stayed a while, the sun warming her face, remembering what might have been.


  1. Awwwww. What a lovely story. My favourite lines are this ones:
    "...She had a hole in her heart."

    Her voice turned wistful again. "She left one in mine too."

    It captures wonderfully how we sometimes reach out to strangers - and how we sometimes need to. Thanks for a sweet read. Le gach beannacht ~ Hazel

  2. I'm loving these variations on the names. It's like a kaleidoscope, patterns always changing but held within the same circle.

  3. @Hazel - yes, I liked the lines you quote as I wrote them. Glad they survived the edits - and that they resonate.

    Agus leat féin. :-}

    @Laura - I'm glad you're enjoying the variations, and I love your image for them!

    Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Ruth would have been a lovely name for her.

  5. Oh, this really pulled at the heartstrings. My sister lost a baby 2 weeks before she was due, and for the longest time it consumed her. I can really feel for Anna, and Ruth is a lovely name.

    Wonderfully written,

  6. Ruth would've been a lovely name for her, such an emotional story and so beautifully written!

  7. A very gentle, tender exchange portrayed here, Kevin. Definite heartstring tug

  8. @John I have to admit, I love the name 'Ruth'. Thanks for the comment.

    @2 Thank you for the "wonderfully written" - my thoughts to your sister

    @estrella 'Ruth' is a lovely name, isn't it? Thanks for your comment.

    @mazzz I'm glad I seem to have gotten the emotional balance right in this story, and glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Kevin, I just loved this story.
    You write so well.
    Such great, even flow. Very natural dialogue.
    And the story had such a wistful tone.
    Do I know the name Ruth Goldberg? Sounds familiar (must google).
    Anyway, enjoyed it muchly.

  10. Thank you Cathy, I am very glad you enjoyed the story.

    As to the name, a happy coincidence if it is a known one. I just liked the sound of the combination.