Moira hated her name. It was all wrong, like pink lipstick with brown eye shadow- it didn’t match up. The mousy, freckled, wisp of a girl playing the piano did not fit a name so bold. She made it her business not to draw any attention, but those five letters screamed out windows and in marketplaces, “I’m different! Notice me!” The truth was Moira didn’t want to be noticed. She tried very hard to fade, like the stamps you get on the back of your hand from theme parks. She wanted the world to just scrub her off.
When she was even smaller, more freckled and unbelievably mousier, she once raised her hand in class. Mrs. Rulchuck was asking about Arithmetic, and Moira found she was mildly adequate at Arithmetic. The answer was fourteen, and she knew it. No one else in the class knew it, and there, up front and covered in chalk, was Mrs. Rulchuck, waiting for the answer. Fourteen. Someone say fourteen. Moira looked up and around at the fidgeting hands and the rolled socks. The children were looking down in their laps or out the windows or at their friends. No one was going to say it.
Before she knew what was happening, she raised a trembling hand, three, four inches from the desk, and suddenly she heard her loud, brash named called out to her, joltingly. “Moira,” eyes of bewilderment, “Do you know the answer?” Her mouth opened, knees knocking and hands sweating, the boy in front of her had turned completely around. Staring at her loud name. She had never considered his face before, just the back of his head. That cowlick that reminded her of an eye of a hurricane. She tried to say… she knew the answer… she knew the word that described the number that was the answer. But nothing came. Mrs. Rulchuck’s expectant look diminished and her disappointed one replaced it. And at recess she was laughed at, mocked. Dumb, they called her. Stupid. And that she was.
She would have said the answer if her name had been Mary. Or Ann. But that big, clunky name hit her in the face so hard she lost her entire mouth. It winded her until there was no breath to use. Fourteen. Fourteen.