Today’s One Word Story comes from my friend Cam Montgomery. Cam and I became fast friends over music and various R. Kelly memes and jokes. All good friendships deserve R. Kelly jokes. Don’t even lie about that. She’s been writing for quite some time and this story is one great treat. It includes end notes, cuz that’s what badass stories do. They contain end notes!
The word Cam chose was syzygy, the only word in the English language to include three “y’s.” A syzygy is an alignment of three celestial objects. In her story, Cam’s celestial bodies are a couple with a baby on the way, cycling through baby names. It’s a funny and serious and beautiful story to behold and the end notes enhance it so tremendously.
A bio is included at the bottom. Follow her on Twitter and such for hilarious and amazing tweets. Truly an amazing person to know.
And now presenting, “Syzygy, For the Third Celestial Body”
When She offered up August,* He barfed in his mouth.
“What could you possibly have against August?” She pushed.
“It’s just a ridiculous name. I want to see my son on a baseball field, not on a calendar. “ He supplemented his sentiments with a fruit salad of mumbles and mismatched syllables, all do-si-do’ing down the line to create one rodeo of remarkable disdain.
And She returned the favor.
“When was the last time you even touched a baseball?” She pressed.
“August is robust, everyone knows that.”
“I am sure someone really believed that at some point in time, but I’m telling you right now, August is not robust. If you pump out an August in February, I’m just letting you know you need to let me know so that I can start saving for a grief counselor.”
She flipped the pages of the dog-eared paperback to silence He’s sense of entitlement – notes from previous owners on twelve and twenty-four, musings on Jewish translations and perilous presentations on offensive spellings of Brittni and Ayricka. The routine carried on like ping pong, like supermarket price checks, like tongues touching beneath high school bleachers. Back and forth and back once more in search of an ultimate answer and in the process, She offered and He invented ninety thousand variations on the word ‘no.’
“It makes me uneasy to leave the ‘A’ names without a prospective candidate,” She whined, working a bedroom of muted television and mashed potato Kleenex mounds on the nightstand. From across the bed, He leaned his chin on her shoulder, one hand on her belly, bewitching the unborn item into sending out a sort of brain signal or self-made sedative, saving some hope of “John” or “Steve” or “Paul” by osmosis. He rubbed as She flipped from twenty-seven back to one, momentary breaks and breakthroughs scattered accordingly.
“Anthony!” She exclaimed as if no one had ever remembered the name to date – As if Anthony was the answer to all worldly problems. Anthony! with such fervor, Eureka! bit the dust. Anthony! Like a recording of every armchair Jeopardy contestant asking what is? in unison. Anthony! Anthony! Anthony!
“I’m not morally opposed to Anthony.” He shrugged as She readied her Sharpie for supreme circling, He tacking on a closing sentiment.
“Plus, you remember that Anthony* we met in Rome? Now that guy was fun.”
She slowly lowered her Sharpie and sutured her second guessed conversation with a fold of the page on the upper left corner, a routine reminder of cautionary interest until further Google research, a single permanent mark of her own still absent from the anthology adopted from the corner Goodwill. Inks in honest hues of azure and ancient mustard – circles and squares and squigglies akin – familial marks and mistakes and mantras made famous by unnamed monikers, all linked by inked affections in repetitive shades. Strangers with secret bonds over Blake and Nathaniel, tied together with invisible fishing wire and wanton womb worries, all honoring each other.
Some better than others.
“You said no to Armand, right?” She checked, He’s eyes zeroing in on the page before letting out a howl and fingering the waxy ink beneath.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not taking any chances with Magenta Crayon. Magenta Crayon also underlined Ebenezer and Salphane. I mean, are we really supposed to ignore that? That our son could be forever influenced by someone who underlined the name Salphane?”
“But you said you liked Alvin* and that was Magenta Crayon, too!” She cried, cornering her counterpart somewhere between Simon and Theodore.
“I SAID NO SUCH THING FOR ALVIN,” He swore, his hand on his heart wrapped in flannel and unflagging dedication for disdain of Magenta Crayon’s dismal duties as a parent. In an act of I’m-not-wrong, He moved his hand, bee lining from her belly beneath the covers to the book between her eyes. He flipped a radical return to fifteen where, indeed, She had folded the page in response to one of the ten names present, Alvin included.
“You see!” She gloated, her chewed up index tapping on Alvin in time with He’s climbing temper. “I told you, you liked Alvin, you and Magenta Crayon liked Alvin so I bent the hell out of that page.”
“If you were so sure I liked Alvin, which I don’t, then why didn’t you physically mark Alvin?” He posed the question expecting a response of retreat from either She or the Sharpie, either equally acceptable.
“Because I told you nine hundred times, Sharpie is only for the serious considerations, and the serious considerations include and are limited to one name per
letter, because that’s the way we’re doing it, because that’s the way it’s done, and Alvin just isn’t that one name yet.”
“Nor will it ever be,” He tacked on in good form. “I’m just saying, we’ve been on ‘A’ for a week and we still have 25 letters and only 4 months to go and I’m not going to hold your hand in labor if I can’t orally name the person I am holding your hand for. So if you bent the page and it’s not for Alvin, who was it for?”
She studied the ten names and tried to reconcile the present She with the past She and their seemingly separate opinions on appropriate identification. What once seemed simple suddenly became a search for syllabic gold in a grove of ill-ripened nicknames and shelved affections.
“Anderson*?” She asked.
“Absolutely not.” He pulled the page and pressed onwards. “Amos*?”
“Never,” She spit back, sliding her fingers under his hand, coercing the book back into control. “Andre*?”
He did not respond. Magenta Crayon was written all over Andre. Yanking the book back, he felt a strange sense of resistance in She’s grip. “Let me see it, let me look at Andy.”
“Why do you need to look at Andy? You just said it: Andy. How does it feel?”
“It’s not the same,” He argued, an edge in his tone and his tired tug of the paperback. She matched his attitude out of undying support, of course.
“Just fucking tell me to mark Andy if you want me to mark Andy.”
“I want to see Andy,” He stated. “I want to make sure Magenta Crayon isn’t presently pining for Andy in whatever shitty parent community Magenta Crayon lives in.”
“I’ll just mark Andy, just tell me you want Andy,” She said, climbing to a shout.
“I need to see Andy! Just show me Andy!” He yanked, a rapid motion between the two above the duvet.
“I’ll just mark Andy! It’s Andy! Just move the fuck on!”
“Let me think about them!” He sang.
“Who?” She pressed.
“All Andys, everywhere, let me just have a minute with the book so I can remember every Andy that ever Andy’d, is that so much to ask for before we eternally brand the man with the And?”
“Andy Warhol,” She yelped, pulling the book back to her chest. “He’s fine, we’ll mark it.”
“Andy Rooney,” He spit, spine in his grip and pages bending in time with his rationale. “That guy was not all there.”
“Andy Griffith!” She reassured.
“But Andy Kauffman?” He argued.
He and She grabbed respective ends of the paperback cover, shouting out the historical hierarchies of Andy at large, their voices vying for attention in loops and swirls, soaked in vehement moans and manic grabs at one another, not far off from the He and She that crafted such an unnamable object only a few months prior, when their own celestial bodies came in line to create another. The two, now three, slightly four with Sharpie’s consideration in tow, tossed glares amidst gaping statements about one another as they tugged at the typeface in their hands, pulling and pressing and pleading and erupting in four letter words until, in one last fever – He and She and It – all shook as the binding exploded and all able bodies fell back to their respective spaces, a quarter inch of M between them coated in exposed glue and gracious oblivion.
He and She huffed in silence, catching breaks in breathy patterns eyeing one another in their sad states of paper cuts and unglued adulthood on opposing sides of the bed. And so it went, like ping pong, like supermarket price checks, like bleachers and activity beneath – He looked at She and She at He and It between and back once more until He picked up M and She leaned in close and at once, the room was void of tarnished back story. He flipped and She stopped.
And seven letters began to live.
 “You know the rules,” Sara-Casey coughed through a glass of toxic jungle juice, her braces bleached in a soup of red wine. “You and Auggie kiss!!” The room of girls squealed, rolling in laughter, their voices wrestling with the Michael Jackson track smacking the shag carpet basement. He sat in horror as his go-steady edged him to pay respects to the bottle’s demands. “But I’m barely playing, I didn’t even spin it myself,” He said, hoping Sara would somehow forget his spit swapping with half of her girlfriends in her false drunken stupor.
“Do it!!!!!!!!” Sara shrieked and He turned his last hope to a squirrely Auggie Kimmons on the other end of the circle, a weak addition to the group invited solely out of mean spirits.
“I think we better just do it,” Auggie leaked, leaning in, suspiciously absent from any apprehension.
“Hold on” Sara screamed, “Let me get my camera.”
 “Your boyfriend come back when?” Anthony asked, She’s tongue taking a momentary break from his teeth. “He thinks the Giants will win the Superbowl if he stays at the Vatican long enough,” She heaved. Anthony stared blankly trying to decode “Superbowl” and its relevancy to the situation. She rather quickly recognized the divide. “Looooooong time,” She stretched, motioning with her hands as Anthony ripped his shirt open.
“You I like,” Anthony whispered in an embrace. “You move just like my sister.”
She suddenly felt ill.
 “You know, I love orthodontics,” Dr. Alvin feigned, wrenching a wire across He’s teeth. “But my real passion is marionettes.”
 “Cool name. You go by Andy?” He asked, unpacking his shower caddy and dorm life Welcome Week schedule.
“No,” Anderson confirmed, unzipping his suitcase. “I go by Candy,” he said, shaking a long blonde wig back into form, motioning to the bunk beds.
“Top or bottom?”
 She sat at the kitchen table, her parents smiling in unison, tapping their fingers on a spread of Camp Amos brochures and agendas before She’s mother broke the silence.
“Don’t think of it as a fat camp, think of it as a new start!”
 Mylar balloons and hard butter cream cake littered the kitchen as He occupied the floor beneath the dining room table. Handling a single piece of popcorn, he whispered, “Andre,” waving the kernel in front of the hermit crab. “Psst, Andre…” He tried again, interrupted by a baritone from the door. “I told you the present would be a good idea, Linda.” He’s father turned to him. “Glad you like your new friend, son.”
He crawled, hands and knees, amidst an army of chair legs to find his father standing at the doorway holding a suitcase. “Now before I say anything else, your mother and I want you to know that this isn’t your fault.