Cy looked down at his pay slip and contemplated the latest misspelling of his name.  Seinen.  It had, in past weeks, been Sinan, Sainnen, and in a bizarre creative flight that he still had trouble believing wasn’t deliberate, Siiniin.  Sinan at least sounded Caleran.  What sort of a guy was Seinen?  Heid, maybe?  It had a Heid sort of an air to it, all E and I.

He shook his head and pushed off the wall, turning toward the offices.  Every week, a new man here in the military.   He’d wondered at first if he should try to correct it — but he was having enough trouble about his foreign looks without making a fuss over the spelling of his even more foreign first name.  It was the least of his problems, really.  If he’d been one of the farmers’ kids, he probably wouldn’t even read well enough to know.

Of course, if he’d been one of the farmers’ kids, the Atan officers wouldn’t all look at him like he was a mercenary.

Cy rounded the corner and slipped into the disbursing office.  The treasurer, an older man, Caleran, sitting behind a desk, held out a hand without looking up.  Cy handed him the slip.

The treasurer snorted and finally looked up.  “Let me take a guess: C-Y-N-A-N?”

Cy drew his head back, startled.  “How did you know?”

“I spent some time working in Ashenn when I was younger, attached to a merchant company.”  Seeing Cy’s blank look, he rolled his eyes.  “Kemoe, on the coast.  For a man who looks so Jainala, you don’t know shit about the East, do you?  Anyway, the Jainala are in and out of there all the time.  As far as I can tell, they never start a name with an S if they can slip in a C and pretend it’s all the same.”  He clinked a neat stack of coins down on the desk in front of Cy, and tossed the slip of paper in a drawer.  “I wouldn’t take it personal.  Paymaster can’t spell his own damn name half the time, and trust me, I collect his pay slips, I know.”

Cy choked on a hopefully-not-insubordinate laugh.  “Thanks.”

“Sure.  You should have seen what he did with the Xemish kid who signed up two years ago.  Pitiful.  I’ll bet you a round of drinks he spends the whole rest of the year and never gets close to those first two letters.”

Cy hesitated, and then grinned back at him.  “I’ll bet you two rounds he gets the Y before then.”

The treasurer threw his head back and laughed.  “Okay, Meridas, I’ll take that action.  But I warn you, you get to my age, you like the expensive stuff!”

“I’ll remember that.”  Cy gave the treasurer a friendly nod in parting and walked out the door with a lighter step.

“And no dropping hints!”  A bellow came out the door.  Cy laughed and headed back to the barracks.


This is for this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt at Write On Edge.  This week’s inspiration was beautiful words, cats, and names (trust me, it was all related!).  I chose to go with names and spend a little more time with Cy.  Thanks for reading.

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  1. Jennifer says:

    This was lovely and funny! So true that it only takes one person, one moment to make someone feel less foreign and more seen. I hope they end up drinking together.

  2. Names are fun! I love it when an author can create an uncommon name without it sounding completely strange with lots of apostrophes and extra capital letters.

  3. angela says:

    I like that you take us from irritation and alienation to camaraderie. It made the piece feel complete, though it’s part of something bigger.

  4. Cameron says:

    Such ease in this. Such wonderful banter. So much of who we are is wrapped up in our names, and identity can mean everything when it’s all we have. You convey it all so well.

  5. sonya says:

    That is lovely and funny. It’s a nice little piece that feels very natural. Good job!

  6. Michael says:

    My first name gets misspelled on occasion, and letters get dropped off my last all the time; I feel Cy’s pain.

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