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Let Me Count the Ways

A silly story with constraints

By Vivian R McInernyPublished 11 months ago 3 min read
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One thing for certain: Honey was pregnant and ready to pop. I threw a shower for her on the third Sunday in June, just as she’d requested, knowing everyone was too polite to do the wedding day math.

“Isn’t that simply adorable,” Honey said thumbing through the pages of Five Hundred Baby Names and What They Mean. She would unwrap no less than three copies of the book by the end of the shower. The fact that the title was on the fifty-percent-off-no-exchanges-no-returns table at Costco may have had something to do with its sudden gift-giving popularity. This was back in 1991 B.C. — before computers — when searching online for top ten baby names was still unimaginable. By the way, 2015; Liam and Emma.

“One cannot go wrong with a good Biblical name,” said Honey’s grandmother. “A solid Old Testament name like Adam or Rebecca has stood the test of time for two thousand years and will likely continue to do so.”

Honey’s Nana had welcomed seven grandchildren and already three great-grandchildren to this world and not a one of them was Christened with a name from the good book unless you counted Goliath the seventeen-pound calico that Honey’s cousin Crystal adopted from a no-kill shelter. Personally, I would not include Goliath in the count not only because he was a cat but also because Crystal had almost immediately renamed him, Quatre, as he was her fourth cat, thereby exceeding her HOA bylaws by three.

“I was thinking of naming her Infinity,” said Honey patting the bump in her belly which she had known since week twelve to be a daughter, a fact her Nana simply refused to acknowledge. “Infinity Jane because my love for her knows no bounds.”

“Well, then, how about you call that baby Googolplex,” suggested Nana who at this point had run out of patience and sherry. “Or just call it Thing One or Thing Two, for all I care.”

“You two are too much,” I said jumping up and clapping both hands together in a ridiculously cheery gesture. Turning to the other guests I asked, in an even more ridiculous, even more cheery tone, “How about a game of Twenty Questions, Pregnancy Edition!”

At that point, Honey’s Nana excused herself to use the powder room which really meant, to sneak a cigarette, and Honey said she’d show Nana the way, which really meant, like hell you’re lighting up, and then three guests simultaneously stood to say they’d had a wonderful time but really needed to scoot, and in the thank-you-so-glad-you-cames that followed in the front hall, I noticed cousin Crystal slip one of the baby name books into the side pocket of her purse.

After they all left it was just me and a dozen pink frosted cupcakes.

Note: Years ago, I took a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with the Iowa Writers Workshop. Not sure if they still do them but they were free and, I thought, really fun and instructive. This was for a homework assignment to write something using a number in every sentence. Some people wrote clever lists, some wrote stories in which they numbered each sentence in some way. I wanted to try to hide the numbers so it wouldn't jump out at the reader as too obvious. It was a fun challenge.

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About the Creator

Vivian R McInerny

A former daily newspaper journalist, now an independent writer of essays & fiction published in several lit anthologies. The Whole Hole Story children's book was published by Versify Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021. More are forthcoming.

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Comments (1)

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  • Mackenzie Davis8 months ago

    I really enjoyed this! The numbers are like an unconscious structure, which is clever. It adds to its completeness at the end. Loving the unique characters; they all stand out! And the not-so-subtle but tastefully written sarcasm of the Costco gift and the fake politeness, and even the baby names worked so well; what a full world you created!

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