By Matthew Vollmer

June 6, 2016


It wasn’t a nickname. It was her real, actual name. She’d been Hubby for eighty-three years. Ever since the old doctor, riding a mule over creeks and ridges, ducking his head under limbs, whistling a tune to pass the time from town to holler, arrived at her mother’s cabin and presided over her birth. Once born, the doctor said he’d give the mother fifty cents if she named the baby after him. It wasn’t the first time Dr. Hubby had paid a new mother to perpetuate the moniker. At one time, these mountains had been full of Hubbys. To this day, you can find markers in cemeteries with “Hubby” carved into stone, not far from the graves of their mothers, who, with swaddled infants pressed against their heaving breasts, had traded two coins for a name. They’d imagined what fifty cents could buy them—three dozen eggs or ten loaves of bread or six cans of applesauce or ten pounds of sugar or a new pair of stockings or two tickets to the movies or eight cans of tomato soup or two pounds of Wisconsin sharp cheddar or maybe even a single spring chicken—and with one hand they patted the backs of their babies, and in the other they rubbed the two quarters together, relishing the heat the metal generated in their palms, whispering h-u-b-b-y into their babies’ ears, incorporating it into lullabies, convincing themselves that it was—why not?—a name they could live with.


Image provided by darkday via Flickr's Creative Commons licence.

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Comments (4) - Post a Comment
I like this piece for the sheer unexpectedness of the story it tells, and for its restraint in telling that story along with all the other stories hidden inside this one.
Abby Frucht at 8:57am EDT - June 6, 2016
This story touches on all the compromises we make just to survive. How submissive need can make someone. It's very well done.
Claudia Geagan at 10:16am EDT - June 6, 2016
I love the idea of the mountains "full of Hubbys." Beautiful!
Pamela Rothbard at 3:37pm EDT - June 6, 2016
Lovely visual details of the doctor making his way to the house and terrific list of what the 50 cents could buy.
Desiree Magney at 4:34pm EDT - June 6, 2016

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