I only ever realised that my nan had written my name the wrong way round when I looked up from my computer, sitting at my desk. It was written in a little brown box in the left-hand corner of a painting that she drew with my birthday date just underneath. She had mixed up my first name and my middle name.
I knew that painting ever since I was born, drawn from a Christmas card that she had bought. I loved it really, but the name began to annoy me.
So I ripped it from the nail that it hung on, and I rubbed it out with the top of a nearby pencil. This time, I would write it the way it should have been written. But then, in the moment, I had forgotten how to spell Isabella.
The seabirds rampaged from town to town, specks of white plodding their great wings in the sky. Soaring gently like paper aeroplanes, they seemed to chase us with their flaming beaks. Every break and lunchtime, I would trail after my friends and listen to their cries listlessly, my hands stuffed in my pockets and the concrete ground moving steadily underneath my feet.
This time, the wind blew hard and menacingly, so their squawks of pleasure were lost in the dramatic sighs of the earth. Blue and frosty, the sea pushed against the rocks and tugged at the sand as if it were pulling a plug from a drain. Sinkholes of grain that steadied my fall and cautioned my bravery.
My notebook sat in my hand, two pages blank and a world of lines that were left unmarked. Pencils that I had gone through, biting their tops and tearing the lead from their nibs laying in a muddied pile at home. Writing was like wearing a hole through a pair of odd socks and being in too much of a rush to find a pair that actually matches. Everything was misplaced, torn, worn and disordered. Yet every bit of it never failed to render controversial, as the colours never complimented each other and the patterns never suited, but it was my own.
The beaches rang with shouts of joy and screams of laughter. Running my fingers through the ocean with my empty hand, I craned my neck to see the gulls play in their own, free way. And I applauded them with my own freedom, skimming the surface of the world with my hope.
Hope seemed to blush nervously, fluttering its lashes and its face reddening whenever it appeared. It was a sense of shame for all the times it was never there- like coming back to work for the first time in a couple of months and everybody’s watching you. Like starting a new school in the middle of the year and the whole crowd doesn’t know you.
Hope always ends its statements with a question, though it never was wrong in the first place. It’s an educated guess on a multiple answer question and you get it correct, a skim through a book you’ve never read but you know you’ll love, time that you know has gone too fast and spilt like tea from a cup but you know you can just about get on time to class.
Hope puts you on edge, but it’s worth it in the end as the relief washes over and there's a full stop at the end of the story.
When I got home, the name wasn’t there anymore, instead, the outline of where the letters had been imprinted on the paper. But then, I realised, everything was bizarre in this world. And everything is illegible, theoretically. So I spelt Isabella the way I wanted to: incorrectly.