Say My Name This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 8, 2010
My ears burn red and my face flushes with blood when I hear it across the room. I turn and search critically for the culprit. Who said it? Who is calling out that word, that name to which I am ever alert to the sounding of? They call, I answer.

I have been able to spell it out for as long as I can remember and as far as I can crawl back into the pages of translucent memory hanging, dripping in the residue of remembrance in my mind. Although I scrawl it out in purple crayon and repeat it and wear it across my chest on a sticker that announces my identity to the seeing, I constantly have to fight for my name’s survival in the mouths of others.

Their teeth crush it up and their lips suffocate it, their tongues drown my name in saliva as they mutilate it and mash it together with new syllables and foreign sounds.
“No,” I tell them. “It is pronounced…” And still they claim I must be wrong; they ask me if I am sure; they question whether or not my “weak and limping” name is even valid enough to be real. Surely it must be some condensed, watered-down version of your real name. As if my name, my title, my essence is not enough to satisfy them; their redundant lack of mental scope in the realm of alien naming wears away at my patience, scraping dryly against my weathered façade.

When I was younger, I tried to simplify the matter by telling everyone to just give me a nickname; it never caught on. I am constantly explaining that, yes, my name can exist because it does too have vowels. Don’t you, can’t you, remember “and sometimes ‘y’”? They cannot. However, I cherish the fact that my name, which has been cut and transplanted from my ancestors’ identities into mine like an everlasting heart, is so unnatural to so many that they feel compelled to fulfill some unspoken duty to correct it. Most of all, I love that every time my name is stolen into the mouth of another and is mangled beyond repair, it returns like gold upon my lips, strengthened by my defense and pride and that same heart that pumps my own blood with the strength of my family, who allowed others to trust in the sanctity of that name.

I am ever alert; I answer when I hear it, because it is not like the others floating around who have many to claim it and reinforce its integrity. My name has only me. I am the only one left to defend my name, to wear it as the ancient armor the name’s prior owners crafted over centuries of adversity. But in the tongues of our modern, living speakers, my ancestors are gone; I am proud to say that I remain my name’s greatest advocate.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Phoenix97 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 26, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Interesting. I would very much like to know your name now! Your article is intriguing and it certainly kept me reading. The only suggestion I have for you is to fix up some of the grammar. Otherwise, good work! :)
Sandra3 said...
Nov. 24, 2010 at 4:16 am
oh my god.... WHAT'S YOUR NAME?! lol 5/5 man..great work.
desiderata replied...
Nov. 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm
thanks. I'll let my name remain a mystery for now though.
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