“She don’t have a name” the old lady said out loud suddenly.
Bernadine was very surprised. “Well, of course I have a name”, she said. “My name is Bernadine”. The old woman sucked on her top teeth as she stared at her sister. “Sad, ain’t it? She don’t gotta name.”
Bernadine was puzzled. Didn’t she just say out loud that she did have a name? Didn’t they hear her? Maybe they were deaf. Her teacher had told her class once about how some people have ears that don’t work right and so they talked with their hands instead but that was only good if everyone knew how to talk with their hands Bernadine thought and Bernadine surely did not know how to talk with her hands. Or….maybe she did. It’s not like she ever tried before.
So Bernadine thought really, really hard inside of her head. “My. Name. Is. Bernadine.”
She thought it very loudly and every slowly and very clearly. While she was thinking, she just let her hands start moving around by their own willpower, maybe her hands did know how to talk. She stared with extreme concentration at the old woman in the rocking chair who had been doing all the talking (the other old lady with the gray hair and tiny eyes talked sometimes but didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense).
“What’s the matter with you?” The old woman was staring hard at Bernadine and Bernadine suddenly realized that maybe her hands couldn’t talk. Or maybe, they were saying all the wrong stuff.
Bernadine tried again. “I do have a name. It is Bernadine.” She said it as loud and as clear as she had ever said anything to anyone in her whole entire life. And then she waited.
“S’all right, s’all right. No name, no matter. We’ll make one up for ya. We’re good at that, ain’t we, Bitsy?” At the sound of her name, Bitsy turned towards the old woman in the rocking chair. Bitsy laughed and slapped one hand on her knee while nodding her head vigorously. The old tooth sucking woman sat back in her rocking chair and laid her hands in her lap, seemingly satisfied that the issue at hand had been resolved.
Bernadine did not know what to make of it all.