Say My Name

Say My Name

A Story by Maeve Andrea

I told you it was my name, and you believed it. You say it, and for once I believe the sound of it.


Happily ever after is for the weak. It’s for the rich girls who never left the castle and the prom kings that never had their reign contested. It’s the easy way out in life you pay for with all of your deepest, most complicated, most challenging, most beautiful desires. It’s for people who were born swans, not the ugly ducklings masquerading in white feathers like me. Yet, here I am, waiting on the floor, draped in my favorite condemning bible verses, glued to a bargain bin wig that doesn’t fit right, looking at you, wondering if I’ll ever catch the side of your eye just right so that you’ll notice that I’m still as lost as I was the day I met you.

Words never meant much if you have nothing to say until I met you. I think I’ve elevated every thought you’ve uttered, even the most vacuous and meaningless, just because they escaped your perfect lips. I piece together every little bit of information you let slip and create a fantasy that I live in until this day. Girls like me aren’t supposed to ask questions much like the model never expect the audience to walk with them. It’s second nature to be the performance art yet you’re the piece of work I never expected to get so wrapped up in.

Every word, every movement, every blink of the eye or turn of the head or curve of the mouth into an unmistakable smirk, and it’s you that defies explanation. I hide in the mask because I have no choice, my body chained to these falsehoods that I count the days until I have to bear witness to. You live in the character you’ve created for yourself, because you can, because you were blessed in ways you never wake up in the morning and realize, much like you never count your own breaths like I do in dark alleys and in doctor’s offices, checking your watch to see how many months you have until your projected average lifespan.

I’ve inched into the frame of your life and I still feel like a background character in your peripherals. You’re my Mona Lisa, but I’m nothing more than the squirrel from Afternoon In The Park. I suppose with all the men and women stunned enough to throw themselves at you I simply fall in line as the rare sort who takes their time despite fighting the clock. Could you blame me? If I am any piece of work, I’m unfinished, I’m still concept art, and you’re a masterpiece, a golden icon that never had a frame in their life that wasn’t shot perfectly. I’m an impostor who models themselves after someone it was never in nature’s intent for me to imitate. I wasn’t meant to be you.

Sometimes I hate you for it, until you touch my skin in a way that’s only quasi-romantic, only semi-sexual, but is more than enough for me. No woman in the world can do what you do, no woman alive could be who you are- someone so self-controlled and modeled in a mirror while still feeling like the most real deity ever to breathe the same confined, distant air I do. You say my name, a name no one else has ever said- not my doctors, not my teachers, not my parents, not even my own birth certificate. I told you it was my name, and you believed it. You say it, and for once I believe the sound of it. For once, I am clothed in silk robes that hug my body as I imagine it instead of exposing it for the fraud it is. For once, it is my real name.

I cherish every second I dance within your eyesight, as though I trained my whole life for the performance that can make me, even if it breaks me. I feel your eyes follow me, and every second longer than usual are years added to a lifespan shortened by terror and hatred. You never panic even as others do, and you never turn away when it’s obvious you should. You make my heart stronger and you nearly stop it within a single second when you look me in the eyes and dance with me.

You never look away, though I wouldn’t mind if you did, because if this imperfect body, the perpetually in-progress patchwork, is in any way real to you, then I am me. I am me to no one I have ever met, but I want to be me to the woman who says my name. When you dance with me I have already taken apart your raven-black hair, skirted legs that dare to stand thicker and wider than they’ve been told, the leather jacket that hugs your frame and makes you clearer than day, more real than my own breath. I know them, and for moments at a time, I experience them. I let go all too slowly when you say “Thank you for the dance, Clarice” because I wonder if one of these days I will refuse to let you go out of fear that the name I have left behind in the transition from birth certificate to headstone will consume me and sign my fate again.

I catch your eye in this moment and you turn away from the latest babe on your arm, one that even in their most masculine sleeveless tank tops and sliced-up short hair, is more feminine than me dressed up as a Disney princess. You brusquely turn away as though she was my own imagination, mumbling inaudible explanations that never mattered. You meet my eyes wordlessly and cross over into my personal space, still under construction. This time, I'm inching closer to my goal. I did my makeup just the way I like it, subtle highlights that brush torn skin over like marble, with black eyeliner that emphasizes every expression, bringing out the color in my personality. I’d imagine with the desperation with which I long after you, you would think I’d only dress myself up to impress you, not that you’d drawn me in enough to discover how to fall in love with myself. Myself and I are still only mild acquaintances, but I can learn how to love myself. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m in love with you and every second of time you give me.

It’s routine, as precocious and innocent as temporary romance and insistent lust can be. Arm around the waist, one in the other hand, control and release, spin and sashay, dip me into your arms so I can see that smirk break into a smile for just one moment. It never feels old or new, just a momentary pause in a timeline barrelling towards a flaming catastrophe, meditation as long as the song allows. I take in every second of this song because I know it’s different.

This time, when you say my name and go to turn away, I won’t let go. I plan on keeping my name this time, and if it comes with the woman who first said it back to me, even better. I’m making a gambit for happiness because I don’t know how long ever after is. I just want now.

It’s about time in my life that I held onto something real.

© 2018 Maeve Andrea

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Added on December 2, 2018
Last Updated on December 2, 2018
Tags: say, my, name, dance, transgender, queer, art


Maeve Andrea
Maeve Andrea

Delhi, Delhi, India

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