Jazz Gang Flash Fiction: What's in a Name?

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Three Word Wednesday and is cross-posted at Alice Audrey's Serialists. Although it is set in the same world as Steal Tomorrow it is part of a new series of stories centered around new characters. The "Extras" section of the sidebar has been updated to reflect this. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and The Serialists for more fun.

They had to call her something; that much was certain. "Everyone has a name," Mario pointed out. "Write it down if you can't talk."

The skinny dark-haired girl shook her head and refused the offered pen and paper.

"Maybe she can't write," Tim said. "I bet she was in one of those special classes before the pandemic. You know, the classes for stupid kids."

Tim ducked as the girl grabbed one of his drum sticks and threw it at him.

Mario toyed with a splintered saxophone reed and considered their options. The girl had shown up two days ago, hungry and eager, with a battered Gemeinhardt and a hopeful look in her eyes. She had proven herself a passable musician in spite of her youth and the limitations of her cheap student flute, and Mario was inclined to let her stay even though it meant an extra mouth to feed. A jazz trio was better than a sax-drum duo, and a girl added class to their musical operation. Nevertheless, she couldn't go without a name.

"We could just call her Flute," Tim offered.

The girl rolled her eyes and blew a piercing G sharp of annoyance.

"She needs a real name." Mario said. He was trying to be sympathetic, but his patience was wearing thin. There were a lot of kids who had shed their old names in order to distance themselves from the misery of so many pandemic deaths, but even the most psychologically damaged of them went by some kind of moniker. "How are we supposed to call for you if you get lost?" he asked her. "And how are we supposed to give you billing in our advertisements?"

His other arguments had rung hollow, but the girl narrowed her eyes at this last one.

The look wasn't lost on Mario. "We're not advertising now, of course, but we will. So come on, what should we call you? Tell us or you'll have to leave."

They locked eyes and it was the girl who turned away first. She picked up her flute and blew a long single note.

Mario put his sax to his lips and tried to match it. E-flat? That was a silly name. Then he remembered—flutes were tuned to a different key. "You want us to call you C?"

She took a shallow breath and nodded.

"Well, okay. Any sort of last name?"

The girl shook her head.

"This is stupid," Tim said. "She can't—"

Mario held up a hand for silence. Going without a last name was unorthodox, but for now it didn't matter. The important thing was that they had something to call the girl by. "One name will do for now," he said. "Cee it is."

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Sheilagh Lee said...

I am really enjoying this story with these kids you have a flair for writing this very well.

Alice Audrey said...

She did a good job of getting her name across. Nice scene.

Old Egg said...

Having had a similar interaction with a deaf girl many years ago. I felt that I was the one that was at fault as she read my lips perfectly but I couldn't understand her. Beautifully observed piece.

K said...

Cee is as good a name as any other, especially in such dark and uncertain times. I love that they are creating something for themselves, something comfortable and familiar and happy, even if short lived.
Ann, the dialogue here is perfect.

RMP said...

music and the power of communication. you brought the two beautifully together here.