Heather was right. Duncan didn't believe her. "Gwen" was common enough a name, but in the current context—especially in light of Heather's disclaimer—the implication was unmistakable.
Duncan took a moment to digest this remarkable news. He still couldn't wrap his head around it, nor could he see any sign that Heather was joking, so he took refuge in sarcasm.
"And I suppose 'LeShawna' will be her middle name?" he suggested, alluding to the only girl on the show whom Heather had sparred with more than with the late Goth.
Heather knew how she sounded, but for the sake of form she made a show of taking the bait. "Don't make me come over there," she warned, as if addressing a disobedient child. It was clearly a mock threat, given that Duncan was sitting right next to her.
"Seriously, though," Duncan allowed, "you're right. I do find it hard to believe. What's the deal?"
"It started as a joke of my husband's," Heather began. "He knew that I had won a reality show competition when I was in high school, but I had never discussed it in much detail, and I'm sure I never mentioned any of the other contestants by name. Apparently, he decided to find out those details for himself.
"When we found out that I was carrying a girl, Jim and I drew up lists of names we liked. Then, we took turns reading names from our lists to get each other's reactions.
"Every name on his list was the name of a girl I met on the show. They were mostly common names, and I hadn't really thought about the show in years, so I didn't suspect anything.
"He was saving 'LeShawna' for the last, counting on that to be punch line of his little joke if I didn't catch on sooner, but he never got that far. When he came to 'Gwen', it felt right somehow, so I stopped him there.
"He told me what he had done, and admitted that he was surprised when I accepted 'Gwen' so quickly. Of course, that was nothing compared to my surprise, when I heard what I had done. But it still felt right, so we stuck with it."
Heather snorted in amusement. This was not the first time she had contemplated the seeming absurdity of her choice.
"How's that for irony?" she asked rhetorically. "When we were living here at the camp, I couldn't stand Gwen. Now, here I am, planning to name my firstborn after her."
"People change," Duncan offered simply. "Kids grow up. Ten years is a long time."
"A long time," Heather repeated vacantly, as she fell to contemplating the flowers that Trent had presumably left. Duncan, guessing where Heather's gaze was directed, kept his counsel until she was ready to resume their conversation.
After a few moments, Heather's mind returned from wherever it had been, and Duncan made a proposal. "If you're not busy," he suggested, "why don't you stay for the ceremony? You can tell 'Gwen 2' about it someday."
"Yeah, that would make a good story," Heather agreed after a moment of reflection. "When is it?" she asked with a calculating air.
"I'm not sure," Duncan confessed. "The exact time wasn't publicized. I don't think it's open to the public, but with our connection to the show, especially since we knew Gwen, they probably wouldn't run us off. They might even work us in somehow," Duncan theorized.
Heather gave the idea some serious thought. Jim was away on a business trip, so he would not worry if she returned home hours later than she had planned. (Heather had her cell phone with her, but coverage in this area was spotty.) The prospect of a fashion plate such as herself possibly appearing on camera in an oversized flannel shirt did give her pause, but she had no idea whether she would have time to go to her cabin and change into something more stylish. In the end, she decided not to chance the trip.
The sun was now well past its zenith, so conversation soon turned to the subject of lunch. Unlike Heather, Duncan was not at the campsite by accident, so he was amply provisioned. He didn't really have enough for two, if their wait turned out to be a long one, but he chivalrously offered to share. In any case, there was a burger joint just a few clicks up the road, if they needed anything more than what they had on hand.
Heather accepted Duncan's offer with thanks, but assured him that she could pull her own weight in the comestibles department. The groceries in her car offered several options for supplementing the contents of Duncan's cooler, and after briefly discussing their inventories the old campmates reached an agreement.
Heather would be on her own for a beverage, because all Duncan had was beer; and for "Gwen's" sake, Heather was unwilling to drink anything alcoholic. As Duncan went to retrieve his cooler, Heather went to her car, returning to the lodge with a bag of carrots and two cans of pineapple slices. The pineapple was packed in juice, which would serve for a beverage. The cans themselves, which required no tools to open, would be good makeshift water cups, if needed.
The afternoon was partly cloudy and pleasantly mild, so the former reality show stars decided to take their repast on the lodge's porch. As they ate, they continued to converse on whatever topics struck their fancy.
At one point, Heather was momentarily distracted when "Gwen" kicked within her. Her daughter-to-be had seemed remarkably active of late.
"Something tells me she's going to be an ornery one," Heather speculated, reflectively placing a hand on her swollen belly.
"Just like her namesake," Duncan suggested approvingly, adding, "It's a nice legacy, from the one place Gwen would have least expected."
"That makes two of us," Heather seconded with feeling. "But, like you said, kids grow up. Most of them, anyway," she added in a more wistful tone. Duncan had no response that seemed appropriate, so he merely grunted an acknowledgement and changed the subject.
So it was that the onetime rivals enjoyed their luncheon at leisure, chatting pleasantly the while, waiting for Hatchet to arrive.
A "click" is common slang for a kilometer.
So, there you have it: my first published fanfic. (I started two sci-fi crossovers in the mid-1990s, but never finished them and eventually abandoned them.) I've always felt that the ending is a little weak, although I'm proud of this story otherwise.
Those of you who liked this story well enough to read the other stories that I plan to port to this site will find that the "death and renewal" theme is common in my work, if not always as literal as it is in "Legacy".