My Name Is – by KATE JONES

My Name Is

It started with her name.

She gave it up quite willingly; exchanged her father’s for her lover’s at the altar.  Standing there in an ivory dress and her grandmother’s pearls, she had felt a tiny snap as a bit of her broke off, but nobody else seemed to notice.

She carried on much as before, though each time she was called by the foreign, impostor name – at doctor’s appointments and such – she felt a little bit more go.  Each time she was referred to as ‘Simon’s Wife,’ she heard the snap; felt a little less.

Just a tiny freckle, or a finger nail, not enough for anyone to notice.

With each child she birthed – three in total – she felt a little bit more slip away.  She was beginning to notice the gaps now, the lack of an earlobe; the loss of a tooth.  Each time she was referred to as ‘Matthew’s Mum,’ more flesh shriveled.  She kept looking around her to check if anyone else had noticed, but nobody seemed to.

Some days, in the fog of packed lunches and dirty football kits, she struggled to recall her own name – so long it had been since anyone had used it.

And yet, it was such a pretty name, if anyone cared enough to remember it.

Even her husband, grown grey at the temples and stressed around the eye sockets, didn’t use it often.  In company, she was dear, or darling, or simply: she.

In bed, he favoured other names – or none at all.  She would have liked him to use her name then – especially then – to whisper it as he had before, back when she was a whole person.  A full, energetic, sensual woman with a name and a job title and a purpose.

Now she had other names too big to fill: Mother; Wife; Homemaker.  She felt she had lost her own identity, had become a cardboard cut-out of a person; invisible.

It was with mounting horror that she looked into the hall mirror one hot Sunday afternoon in June to see a gap down her right side, where her arm had been.  Her short-sleeved top just hung, the sleeve pointing out away from her shoulder.  A rounded shoulder blade stump poked out of it, like the nose of a cartoon dog.

She walked out into the garden and poured from the jug of homemade lemonade, awkwardly, using her weaker left arm.  She glanced around the table, but none of them appeared to notice the missing limb.

Matthew played Tetris on his tablet; Sophie texted, fingers furiously tapping the keys of her mobile.  Tim, the youngest, grumbled that he had not been picked for the football team.  Her husband read the sports page of the newspaper.

Simon…she started, unsure where to end.  He glanced up from the paper, slight irritation etched across his face.  Do you notice anything different – about me, I mean?

He flicked empty eyes down and back up so quickly she hardly saw them move.  A tiny smile, indulgent, the way he looked at the children when they gave him a homemade birthday card.

New top – very nice, he said, returning to the football results.

She excused herself to get more lemonade.  Nobody thanked her.

As she walked through the warm house to the kitchen, her left foot faded out and she imagined she felt a tiny piece of her heart disintegrate inside her chest.

Kate Jones©

 ***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

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Submissions? Yes, please.

I know, I know, I originally said we were closed to all non-solicited submissions until January 31st. I changed my mind. We have a themed month coming up, Kate Jones’s “Invisibility” theme for February. If you know anything about me or SLM, you’ll know that I will encourage you to interpret this loosely, much like I interpret the bible (haha?). Invisibility can be the way you feel when you’re hurting or depressed; the way that people seem to flee when they see you coming and you’re in a bad mood. It can also be the way we’re treated as women sometimes, especially when it comes to the workplace and our children. It can be interpreted into a horror story. Invisibility is such a great theme because it encompasses SO MANY other themes. So, at this time, if you have not been invited to submit or have not been previously published by SLM, you MAY SUBMIT FOR THE THEME OF INVISIBILITY. (Please send all submissions to me directly at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com )

It may sound comical, but I got my latest bit of writing inspiration from an episode of Arthur that my kids were watching yesterday. One of the characters, Sue Ellen, met the author of Coraline.

He told her that everyone has a story to tell; everyone’s story is unique.

She had a concern. “But some people don’t like it.”

“Not everyone will like your story,” he said. So true. “But your story still needs to be told. It needs to be heard. And it will eventually find the right audience.”

I was standing in the kitchen scrubbing old oatmeal out of not one, but THREE bowls (hell might be cleaning old oatmeal out of bowls, I’m fairly certain) when I heard this, not thinking much of it.

But the more that it sank in, the more riled up I got.

I woke up this morning with the words still stuck in my head.

As a writer myself (and journalist and editor), I’m GREAT at inspiring you guys to send in your writing and boosting you up. However, am I so great at doing the same for myself? Not really. When I see the numbers that my own fiction gets compared to some of yours, I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t bother me or discourage me, as silly as that may sound.

There’s never a rhyme or reason necessarily when a piece of art, poetry, fiction, etc, gets hardly any views versus getting a lot of views.

Most often, the hardest advice to follow is your own.

Give me a piece of writing that came from the heart that needs a few semicolons instead of commas ANY DAY over a piece of over-edited, mass-marketed CRAP. I’m serious. When I call myself the editor, I’m not saying that to self-glorify. I edit a lot of the work that you read on here; and that’s OKAY. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t call yourself an editor if all you did was copy and paste it and ADD typos. (It’s happened to me.)

ALL OF YOU are contributors to a truly one-of-a-kind, passionate, transparent publication that is unapologetic for what it is. And I continuously find myself humbled and honored to be at the receiving end of your submissions. As I’ve said a million times and will say a million times more, I don’t understand the editors who seem like they hate their jobs. When my inbox is inundated with submissions, I am happy. That means that things are going well.

Having too much content to choose from is a gift from the gods! It’s not a burden. And the moment that it becomes a burden is the moment that I think the editor job is no longer the right job for you. It’s true. Even for me.

***

Peace and Love, SLM team 🙂

Cheers!

Your loving editor,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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