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Bethany Taylor

Not only had Shannon White lost the name lottery, he’d practically been bankrupted as a result of his parents’ decision. His peers jeered and mocked when his name was read out from the register; a boy named Shannon would surely be an easy victim.
            ‘Shannon? But Shannon’s a girl’s name,’ a boy called Sam would tell him repeatedly, always squinting as he said it, like sucking a lemon.
            Shannon would put on a brave face, tell him that it was a boy’s name, and he should know because he was a boy. But the torment continued, and his words carved a deep cavern in Shannon’s heart, which over time began to stiffen and blacken like burnt barbeque meat.
            Shannon despised his parents for landing him with such a silly moniker. Why couldn’t they have called him something sensible, like Adam? Nothing would go wrong with a well-established name like that.
            Feeling dissatisfied with himself and the world in general, Shannon took out his frustrations on a boy named Mark. Mark was a sickly-coloured boy with glasses that consumed half of his face. He excelled in every subject, from history to chemistry, and that earned him a target painted on his back.
            Shannon was caught immediately. When she was called in for a talking-to by the headteacher, Shannon’s plum-shaped mother was positively furious, and her scarlet face showed it. She clenched her fists as she was told what her son had done, harrumphing dissatisfiedly when Shannon apologised to Mark.
            After dragging him home, however, her attitude changed. Shannon suddenly burst out into tears, burying his face in her chest like he had done as a baby. Her fingers found a soothing rhythm, petting his short hair.
            ‘What’s wrong, poppet?’ He blubbered, explaining all, confessing that he loathed his name because it was, in fact, girlish. Then, his mother told him something truly enlightening: the story of where his name came from.
            Shannon was named after his grandfather, Shannon Bassett, who was a formidable man indeed. He had been a renowned soldier during the Second World War, and he had single-handedly saved dozens of soldiers at Dunkirk, and had been awarded numerous medals for his bravery – each of which read ‘Shannon Bassett’ in bold, proud lettering.
            This story reinstated Shannon’s confidence. After all, if his grandfather had been able to not only overcome his name but to command respect for it, why couldn’t he? He too would grow up to be someone great, he decided; someone worth remembering.
            When Sam and his cronies next cornered him, Shannon reiterated the story of his grandfather, whose medals shined like stars pinned upon his breast pocket. Halfway through the tale, Sam had yawned and sauntered off in search of another soul to torture.
            What became of Sam later in life Shannon did not know; naturally, they didn’t keep in touch. Shannon ended up as a perfectly ordinary, if not totally unremarkable, businessman. Meanwhile, Mark became an army doctor, with countless glistening badges of his own.