X is for… Xanthe

By Vita Forest



Her name was spelt with an “X” and meant “golden one”.  She wasn’t golden really.  Not her hair, not her skin, not even her eyes.

“Wow,” Sam said, “That’s a lot to live up to.”

Xanthe smiled/frowned or frowned/smiled, Sam didn’t know her well enough to know which part was stronger.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Do you feel pressure to live up to your name?  Are you planning on winning a medal at the Olympics or discovering a cure for cancer?  Perhaps you already have…”

Xanthe smiled/smiled (or so Sam thought anyway).

“No, not yet.  But I did win a tennis trophy once.”

“Wow, that’s impressive.  Wimbledon?”

“Something like that.”  She was losing interest.  Do something!  Say something!

“Am I talking too much?  Sometimes I talk too much.  Especially when I’m nervous.  Not that you are making me nervous.  I’m just nervous.  Not all the time of course.  But I am at the moment.  I will now stop talking so you can answer.”

That was excellent.  Excellent conversation skills.

There was a long pause.  Or perhaps that meant it was over.  Over before it had even begun.    Just a tragic tale to be added to the collection of Bad Beginnings that went no further.  Was that it then?  Perhaps it was time to leave.  Sam nearly walked away, awkward silences were more awkward than awkward conversations.  But then Xanthe started talking again.

“Why did you tell me you were nervous?  Is that so I can feel sorry for you?  Is that how you make friends?  You get people to feel sorry for you?”

Sam smiled, “So we are going to be friends.”

Xanthe’s eyes widened, they were brown, not gold, but that was not a problem.

“I never said that.  And you haven’t answered my question.”

“I guess you are making me nervous, but in a good way.”

“There’s a good way to be nervous?”

Sam plunged in, “It’s a good nervous if you meet someone that is so intriguing, so interesting, that you want to say the right thing so they like you enough to want to get you know you back.  Someone who is golden on the inside and shining on the outside.”

Xanthe stared then looked away.  At last she spoke in a low voice, “That was a little bit too charming for my liking.  I think there may be something wrong with you.  That’s a little bit too intense.”


“So what is your name?”


“And what does Sam mean?  What do you have to live up to?”

Sam shrugged, “I don’t know.”

“Let’s see then shall we? Sam!”  she dragged the last word out, but again, it was too soon to know if she was being affectionate or annoyed.  Xanthe pulled out her phone and punched “meaning of Sam” into Google.  Sam moved closer so they were standing shoulder to shoulder.  They stood waiting for the answer, Sam glancing from her non-golden eyes to the buffering screen, thinking Anything to keep her talking, anything to stay this close.

The screen flickered and settled, Sam watched Xanthe peer down at the screen, then frown/smile or smile/frown then burst into laughter.

“What?  What does it say?”

Xanthe shook her head at Sam, “You thought I had problems – your name means “Name of God”.  I think that is harder to live up to than “Golden One!””

Sam blinked, “Wow.  That must be why I feel so nervous.”

Xanthe smiled/smiled.  Sam smiled back.









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