Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 13: The Girl with No Name
Part 2: Hello Nothing (Final Revision)
Part 2: Hello Nothing (Final Revision)
lecture room. All of Team Bremelo are assembled together to hear the very important announcement Leila summoned them to make. She leans back against the desk. “Before we start, anybody know how Colette’s doing?”
Kio replies, “The doctor says she’ll be coming out of her coma anytime soon.” The whole team erupt into cheers.
“What about you, Leila?” asks Cory.
“Yeah!” says Polly. “Tell us why you brought us here.”
She gestures for Rob, Fiona, Jennifer, and Shira to keep quiet. In a futile attempt to quell her excitement, she takes a deep breath and lets it out. The team stare at her with breathless anticipation. “I’ve decided to ditch my name.”
Polly gasps. “But it was so beautiful!”
Brandi asks, “So what did you change it to?”
“Uh-oh, I don’t like the look on your face.”
The violet-eyed girl winks. “From now on, I don’t have a name.” All the Bremeloes who didn’t already know gasp.
“Please don’t do this to us, Leila!” protests Polly. “We don’t know what to call you anymore!”
Kio looks at her strangely. “You’re okay with ‘hey you’?”
“That’s why you’re here,” the violet-eyed girl says, “so I can tell you what to call me. There’s a few rules I want you to follow.” The Bremeloes nod. “First and foremost, I am always ‘the girl.’ Second, what kind of girl I am’s important. My body and my personality have certain distinguishing characteristics you can use. Third, say it in a way that’s romantic or you can use with affection. Fourth, don’t settle on one, but use as many as you can come up with. Be as creative as you like. For example, I’m an ebony-haired girl, an ivory-skinned girl. and a girl with violet eyes.”
“Okay, uh, violet-eyed girl,” Connor tries to ask, “does this have anything to do with—”
“Shhh! Not right now. The important thing is, I’m now a girl with no name, and soon I’ll be legally nameless. But don’t tell anybody yet. I wanna spring it on ’em.” The girl with the violet eyes winks.
dictel stadium. She runs the track around the field. Her body has never felt so light. Abandoning her name seems to have lifted a crushing weight from her soul. She now believes she can run the whole four kilometers.
She meets her friends at the start/finish line at the end of the fourth lap. Fiona runs into her arms screaming with delight. “Sister, you did it!” Rob hugs them both, and they dance around as if she had just won a race.
workout room. She attacks the weights with an enthusiasm her schoolmates have never seen before. Shira spots her on the heavier free weights. Jennifer says, “I can see you’re recovering quite nicely from that long layoff.”
“I’m not quite a hundred percent yet, but at least I’m able to enjoy having a regular endorphin fix again.”
Harumi asks, “Didn’t you use to be on heroin?”
“I quit even that when it stopped working. That’s how depressed I was before Shira’s love saved me.”
Shira gives her a loving smile and winks. The violet-eyed girl winks back.
gymnastics room. She lowers herself into a full split. She moves her legs into an angle, bends forward all the way to the mat, and holds the stretch. Ruthie, too impressed, wonders, “Why can’t I stretch like that?”
“It’ll take some time for your muscles to loosen up, but you need to. Just stretch.”
“Oh.” Ruthie sits near the violet-eyed girl and starts doing stretches of her own.
homeroom. During roll call, when Mr. Whitmer reaches the name Leila Shelley, Leila says, “No.”
The students stare at her like she’s suddenly gone mad. “What do you mean, no?”
“That name’s a trademark of my grandfather’s clan. I’m IP-locking it, so I won’t be using it anymore.”
“Uh, what then are you changing it to?”
“Nothing.” Gasps. “I won’t be using a name anymore.”
Even louder commotion. “Explain.”
“A little-known flaw in the Law associates names to legal persons, not living persons. That includes Egos as well as Corporations. So when one disassociates from their Ego and its legal personhood, they can abandon their name along with it and become legally nameless. Once I have my name IP-locked, I’ll have achieved anonymous personhood.”
Several students scream in unison. Leila looks around to see fourteen shocked Conservatives standing up and staring at her. “Uh-oh,” says Polly, “did you say something wrong?”
“I think I just stepped on their berserk button.”
“Leila Shelley,” cries Kelly, “you’re the most horrible person in the world! You just threw away your eternal life!”
“You don’t remember, Kelly? I said I’d rather live now than live forever.” Kelly runs out screaming and flailing her arms. Scotty and his posse shuffle away, staring at her like a freak and making the Sign of the Dollar.
Charmian looks half-crazed with horror. “I knew your were trouble from the beginning, Shelley, but I never realized you’d be capable of this.”
“You’d rather I commit suicide?” Charmian’s eyes go wide and her face turns beet red. She nearly hurts herself escaping the classroom.
Debbie gets in her face. “Leila, what the hell’s gotten into you?”
The violet-eyed girl stands up, pulls Debbie close so she blushes, looks romantically into her eyes, and says: “A clue.” Debbie struggles out of her embrace and hurries out.
Polly asks, “Uh, don’t you lose your self when you lose your name?”
“If your self flies away when you lose your name, you don’t have much of a self. Now go to your next class.” She playfully shoves Polly toward the door.
“Wow, darling, I never thought you’d take it public.”
“The family and I agreed on it. Mum said she’d call Angie.”
“You really are IP-locking it.”
“Mm-hmm.” Leila winks.
Dave walks over, still confused. “Uh, Miss Shelley?”
“I said no.”
“I want me to call you something like ‘Miss Anonymous’?”
“I’ll permit that. But from now on, I want you to leave a blank in that spot on the roll call to represent my nameless status and call me as an anonymous tutor. I’ll explain it in full later. Okay?”
He sighs. “Your choice, I guess.”
lockers. Akane, Sana, and Trishie join Shira, Jennifer, and the nameless girl as they’re switching books for the next class. Akane asks the girl with the violet eyes, “Lei— I mean, nameless girl, why would you wanna get rid of your name?”’
Sana adds, “Is this your way of breaking up with Oliver?”
“He wants to break up too,” the violet-eyed girl replies. “I just have to divorce my grandfather’s clan first. This might just be the way to do it.”
Harumi and Fuyumi approach. “So you nanashi onna now, neee,” says Harumi.
“What’s ‘nanashi onna’?” asks Sana.
Shira leans toward her ear. “Japanese for ‘nameless girl.’“
The nameless girl notices that Trishie is uncomfortable with her. “Trishie, what’s bothering you?”
Trishie nearly cries, then blurts out, “Why do you have to be so beautiful?”
“Oh, I guess I was just a lucky winner of the genetic lottery. Though I do know pretty girls who actually aren’t beautiful at all.”
“More like Debbie with her ugly temper.” She puts her hands on Trishie’s shoulders. “Maybe you’re not a ‘perfect ten,’ Trishie, but do you know how you can be beautiful?”
“Believe in your heart that you’re beautiful, and you’ll be beautiful.” She winks.
Debbie comes up behind them, holds out her arms, and yells, “Hello, nothing!”
Everybody stares at her, annoyed. Sana mutters, “Speak of the devil.”
The nameless girl says through her teeth, “Excuse me, Debbie, but just because I’m nameless now doesn’t mean I’m ‘nobody’ or ‘nothing.’ I may be somebody without a name, but I’m still somebody.”
“Then what should I call you? ‘Princess What’s-Her-Name’?”
“Shira darling, will you explain it to her?”
“Gladly.” Shira winks. She puts an arm around Debbie’s shoulders and walks away with her. “These are the rules...”
Fuyumi helpfully suggests, “I think ‘Princess Nothing’ would make a great goth name.”
The nameless girl looks back thoughtfully with her violet eyes and smiles. “Hmmm... I hadn’t thought of that.”
period 1. Mr. Smith takes roll call. “Oh no,” Kelly whispers to Charmian, “here comes that name!”
With his usual malicious glee, he calls out, “Leeeeela Shelley!”
She stands up. “No.” The students giggle nervously.
“What do you mean, ‘no’?”
“’Layla,’ ‘Leela,’ ‘Lila,’ or ‘Lola,’ it’s not my name anymore.”
He crosses his arms and glares at her. “Then what is it.”
“I don’t have one.”
He stares out into space and makes a gurgling noise. The students laugh helplessly. He stays that way for the rest of class time, not noticing that his students are sneaking out. “Leela,” he squeaks.
period 2. “Leela Shelley,” says Mr. Smith.
“Yes you are.”
“You are what I say you are!”
The violet-eyed girl stands up. ““I don’t see why you’re even teaching, mister, since you’re so in denial of reality you don’t even believe reality exists.”
He screams back at her, but no one can hear what he’s saying over the students’ helpless laughter.
period 3. “Leeeeela Shellay?” sneers Mrs. Turnipseed.
The violet-eyed girl stands up. “No.”
She smiles triumphantly. “I don’t have a name anymore.”
The old matron sputters in an incoherent rage; the laughing class only make her angrier. Suddenly her fury is replaced with an expression of pain, she clutches her heart, and with a sigh she collapses to the floor, where she lets out a fatal gargle. The students laugh so helplessly they start to hurt.
principal’s office. The principals stare incredulously at the girl who claims to have no name. Principal Principal giggles nervously. “If I’m catching you right, Miss Shelley, you’re saying that you’re changing your name to nothing?”
“As a matter of fact, Mr. Principal,” she replies, “I am not changing my name to nothing. Rather, as I am now an anonymous person, I have no name at all. There’s a difference. You will change the records to reflect this. I insist that you remove all instances of ‘Leila Renata Shelley’ from my records, as it is now IP-locked and therefore no longer my name, and replace them with nothing to reflect my anonymity.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Shelley, that is not only illegal, it is impossible. Names are so important to the social order of our Revolution that we cannot allow such a precedent to stand. We shall be forced to report this to the proper authorities.”
“Just try that. The lawyer friend who relieved me of my name also knows everything I have learned about your corrupt activities, from drug dealing [Mobley flinches] to embezzlement [Robson and Benson start to sweat] to adultery [Falconer glares wide-eyed]. So please fulfill my request, for your own sake.” She smiles sweetly.
“Very well, then... do you mind if we call you ‘Miss Anonymous’?”
“Not at all.” She looks up and to the side, flips the side of her hair with her left hand. “It’s got a beauty-queen ring to it.”
“Consider it done, Miss Anonymous.”
“Thank you.” The nameless girl turns and leaves. Principal adjusts his collar. Falconer and Mobley stare at each other in disbelief.
dictel stadium. Underneath the bleachers after school, Leila eats the leftovers of her lunch by herself and waits for Frank. Presently he comes. “Leila.”
He stares at her, shocked. His eyes narrow. He activates his Charmer power at full strength. Like the sorcerer prounouncing the word of command, he speaks her name with power. “Leila Renata Shelley.”
She stares at him. For several seconds she says nothing. Then again: “No.”
“That name is dead.”
He grabs her by the collar. “What did you do.”
“I IP-locked it. It’s no longer mine. I am now nameless.” He lets go and stares at her in utter disbelief. “As we speak my Ego is floating somewhere in the noosphere, carrying away my name with it, gone with the wind. Yes, I have thrown my name to the four winds. I’m a no-name girl now, Frank. Call me the girl with the violet eyes, the raven-haired girl, or just plain girl. But you can’t call me names. Especially not that one.” The girl with the violet eyes gives Frank a soft triumphant smile, plants a soft kiss on his lips, and sashays away.
He watches her disappear. He slowly sinks to the ground. He holds his hands up as if in prayer, but no prayer comes and not even Jesus America will answer. “Impossible...” He throws himself to the ground and wails in utter despair.
At the exit she finds her aunt with the white stripe in her hair blocking the open doorway. “Leila.”
Ariel impatiently asks, “What are you doing?”
“Erasing my name.”
“I changed mine.”
“You still identify with it. It can still be used against you. Now that I no longer have a name, I can’t be summoned and commanded.”
“You know I can defend against summon spells.”
“By Repulsing ’em? Doesn’t it make better sense to prevent them?”
Ariel looks thoughtfully at her nameless niece, then smiles. “Funny it was you who thought of it. I never did.”
“I had help.” The girl winks.
period 6. Gym class is over and the girls are in the locker room. Charmian, Kelly, Debbie, and Marina make a silent agreement to change back into their school uniforms as unobtrusively as possible and take their showers with their terrifying nudity at home. The girl with the violet eyes disregards them, takes off her gym clothes, tosses them into the nearest hamper, and casually walks to the showers completely naked. Debbie and Kelly squeak in terror. “Leila!” yells Kelly.
Debbie glares at Kelly to shut her up. She crosses her arms, glares at her, and demands, “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing, woman?”
The violet-eyed girl replies calmly, “Taking a shower.”
“But you’re naked! You can’t be naked in front of other people!”
Polly protests, “She’s European, Debbie. Can’t you—”
“You shut up! Darling, can’t you be modest for us, for other people’s sake?” Shira, also nude, passes by with a wink. “Hey! Not you too!”
“In a rational world,” Shira says, “going naked would be normal, acceptable, and perfectly moral.”
“That’s crazy! I can’t believe what I just heard!” Jennifer passes by nude without even a glance.
Kelly covers her eyes. “Ew, this is gross! I can’t bear to watch!” Charmian grabs her and nods to Debbie; they hurry out as fast as they can, followed by the rest of the Conservative girls. Marina stares one last time at the naked girls, blushes, and scampers after them.
Mimi, already in her underwear, looks at the door, the showers, and back. She looks at Shira and blushes. Shira nods. Mimi reaches behind her back and unfastens her bra. Soon she’s as naked as the others remaining. She blushes furiously.
“Now act as if.”
“As if what?”
“Even if you don’t have the courage, act as if you do.”
She stares at her for an endless second and trembles. She takes a deep breath. “Okay.” She musters up what courage she has, or a semblance of it, tries to ignore her embarrassment, and walks naked toward the showers as if it were the most natural thing to do. All the girls remaining in the locker room cheer her on. Their encouragement makes her smile. A new confidence comes to her, and stays.
Elsie takes the violet-eyed girl’s hand and makes a silent request. The girl nods. They walk together to Elsie’s office. Elsie takes off her own clothes and accompanies her to the office’s own shower. She marvels at the girl’s beauty. “They tell me you’ve become an anonymous beauty.”
“The neighbours tell you?”
“Mm-hmm. Amanda longed to become one.” The violet-eyed girl stops soaping herself and stares at her. “She’s not really saying ‘thank you for letting me be your bright-eyed companion in the morning,’ she’s crying for help, and I’m the only one who can hear her.”
“I’ll help you get her back.”
Elsie looks at her with hope. “You will?”
“Me and Shira.”
She throws herself into the girl’s arms. “Thank you! What are you called?”
“The girl with the violet eyes.” The girl winks.
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Copyright © 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 12/12/12: The final scene originated in a scenario from the late-1990s Project Notebooks (with Mimi). Everything else is new to the Fourth Revision.]