Daniel sat clutching a coffee, staring into the blur of humanity. He wasn’t far from his parents’ home and had no need of a rest, he was here to put off the meeting.
He had read somewhere that the guns of HMS Belfast were trained on Watford Gap. He had no idea why, perhaps it symbolised those attempting to escape the capital. Still, he was not attempting an escape, he was heading towards his conflict, though that conflict was an escape of sorts.
He knew his father would be outraged. He could already hear his voice, hear his own response, whining in defence.
“Dad, I’ve had enough. And I’m not prepared to inflict it on any kids we might have.”
“Inflict it! It should be a badge of honour! I carry it, your grandfather carried it and all those before them. We put up with the jibes, why can’t you? What’s a snigger in the face of history? Nothing!”
There was the rub; his father had endured so why shouldn’t Daniel? If Daniel chose not to endure, it rendered his father’s suffering pointless.
His parents had been delighted when he first brought Maria home. Daniel was sure they’d thought he was gay; much of their happiness was relief. They’d been ecstatic when the engagement had been announced. The thought of grandchildren thrilled them; their name would be passed on! Future generations would have to suffer too! And now he had to tell his father that he, Daniel Rectanus, would be taking his wife’s name at marriage.
Perhaps the name wouldn’t have been such a problem if Daniel hadn’t been such a visible figure, delivering lectures to halls full of people. His name would be on the list of speakers and there was always an expectant titter, or so he thought, when he rose to address the crowd.
“Yes,” he always began, “that is my name and yes, it is spelled correctly. And no, the ‘s’ isn’t silent.”
He wondered why none of his forbearers had changed it; just a letter might have made a difference. Maybe the British had been more polite back then and hadn’t laughed, at least not so openly. Back in the old country, in the old language, there wouldn’t have been the humorous associations, he assumed.
His father had carried it like a penance, a hair shirt, an heirloom.
But why should he, Daniel Rectanus? Why should he have to do so? It was surely time to break the chains of the past. He need no longer be Daniel Rectanus. He could be Smith.
His father would never understand.
“What’s in a name?” Daniel would say to his father. He would surely have an answer to that.
Daniel looked at his wristwatch. There was time yet for another coffee. Perhaps if he delayed for long enough his father would be asleep when he arrived. Perhaps if he delayed long enough he might… No, the thought was too much. He must have courage. He decided to forego the second coffee.
Banner Image: Yes okay – It’s HMS Belfast courtesy of Pixabay but I ask you what else could I use! Yes, yes, there is that, but hey – mixed company and all that!!!