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  • It's a strange thing, how nicknames develop. My name contains four, substantial syllables, from which many a partner has not been shy in demanding a verbal escape. Never have months passed and one day a funny moment occurs, a poem is read, a movie quoted and one name is latched on to. No nickname has ever fallen naturally from a loved one's lips. Instead, I find myself in these conversations where I am told how the ungainly angles of my name get caught in her mouth; the Russian monarchy a popcorn husk in her gums. My offense gone unnoticed, she, like my other loves before her, will take my name into her hooked fingers and begin to dissect it piece by piece. “ Couldn't I call you Ana?” “Don’t you have any nicknames?” “What does everyone else call you?” I puff a bit in saying that everyone calls me my name—yes in its entirety—but am relegated to listing the names picked off the meat of Anastasia. My list grows, and each time this conversation burgeons anew its expansion is secured. No one clings to what has come before them, but instead must strike new ground in me. Each tiny part of me I may have in time, come to love from the mouth of one, mocked again in turn by the next (likely for its attachments alone). But, here I fracture. While it is a unique ache to feel deprived of hearing your name spoken from a love who imbues it so, I know too, that I slowly become engaged in these nicknames in just the way that they hope.

    After two years of not speaking, of sifting through memories so that only a few take-away thoughts are left as a summation, I spoke to an ex today. We talked casually of jobs, his new happy engagement and impending marriage, my settling here in this new place—it washed over me. Fine and unattached, it held the disentangled air of vaguely wishing the best for someone but having no investment in the outcome. I did not bother to probe my memories for my feeling violated as the cause (unbeknownst to him) for the end, or to prod at the thoughts of frenzied love and memories over meals. Not until he bowed out of our conversation and as a final, and I can’t help but think malign, act, he called me by nickname.
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