A passage from ‘Beyond the Sea’

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I have a new mantra. Every morning and night after I brush my teeth and apply my anti-wrinkle creams, I repeat to myself in the mirror that I am a brave and strong woman. Not sure if it works though. Today I woke up way before my alarm clock was about to ring. I lay in bed too depressed to even get up and fix me some coffee. I felt lonely and almost forty. I am lonely and almost forty. The truth is, time is unraveling fast and I don’t know how to catch up. Penny says that I look depressed and that it is normal to feel depressed when your husband leaves you for your best friend and your house burns down (she keeps repeating it in details as if making sure I don’t forget!) but I want to shake off this melancholy and reinvent myself. At first I thought it was going to be easy but now I’m having doubts. Also, we have a new person in the office courtesy of new CEO ‘upping’ (his favorite word!) our game with a customer service representative (a dull corporate robot) that he handpicked himself. Her name is Annie Davis. An ugly character with a friendly name. I showed her how to edit a PDF document and later when Brian came round she told him that she ‘figured it out’! When somebody shows you how to do something that’s not called ‘figuring it out’! I was pissed off. I am tired of being nice and have decided to create an alter ego to help me develop some nasty traits that will help me deal with nasty people like Richard, Hope, and Annie Davis. I was thinking what would be an appropriate badass name for my new self when Klaus and Vincent showed up by my desk and asked why I was mad. I explained that I wasn’t mad but deep in thought. Klaus said I was subconsciously mad. Vincent agreed. I felt that I was getting mad but just because they were pissing me off with their insightful questions and opinions. So I told them my name conundrum.

Lily Poppy is such a weak name. What were my parents thinking? How am I supposed to be a strong woman when the slightest wind sends my petals flying? What is a strong name?

‘My dog’s name is Warrior’ said Vincent.

‘What are you saying – that I should look into dog’s names?’

‘No, I’m just saying it’s a strong name.’

‘I need a strong woman’s name.’

‘Ronda Rousey’ said Vincent.

‘Who the hell is Ronda Rousey?’

‘She’s a cage fighter’ said Vincent. Klaus watched our exchange like an exciting tennis match. I had no idea that cage fighting for women existed. Neither did Klaus.

‘Is she fighting men or other women?’ he asked.

‘Other women’ said Vincent.

‘So there are more of them!’ said Klaus impressed.

‘Of course there are more of them – she is not fighting herself’ I said.

‘She could take out a few men, too, I’m sure’ said Vincent, the expert in Ronda Rousey. Richard’s mother’s name is Rhonda. I want to be strong but I’m not that desperate to take the name of my former mother-in-law. I am actually, but there must be another strong name that I could appropriate.

‘Dolly Parton was named after a sheep and yet she is a strong woman’ said Klaus. ‘It’s not the name, it’s you. If you are not happy, change yourself not your name.’

‘She was not named after a sheep’ I said. ‘Dolly Parton came first. Dolly the cloned sheep came after. Who would name a child after a sheep?!’

‘My cousin named his child after a dog’ said Klaus. ‘His wife is Italian and she wanted the name to be Salvatore and now they call him Toto. Like he belongs to Dorothy. But he is cute boy. And you,’ he looked at me, ‘you have the name of a flower, not of a sheep or a dog. Flowers are pretty and you should be happy.’

Klaus is right, but it’s difficult to be happy when your husband runs off with your best friend. It feels like they joined forces and blew all my petals away and I am now in a field full of blossoming wild daisies and poppies, that one balding flower that nobody wants.

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