I Wonder What You Think Of When You Hear My Name

Tanja Heffner

I wonder if my name is a scarlet letter on the tip of your tongue. I wonder if every time you pass by something that reminds you of me, you swallow it down along with every memory that’s tried to claw its way back up. Does it still taste like the sweet air that used to be enough to fill your lungs with life? And when it makes your way down to your stomach, does the regret twist just like a knife?

I wonder if my name is a flashing siren you try so hard to avoid. I wonder if you see it in the rear-view mirror when you’re speeding on the freeway with the music blaring, trying to run away from it as fast as you can. Is the ruffling noise of your indecision on the ride home loud enough to drown it out? And when that song we always used to love comes on, do you change your mind and take the long route?

I wonder if my name is a shiver down your spine or a chill you can’t shake. I wonder if your body keeps grabbing for it in your closet like your favourite hoodie that used to keep me warm. Is it still tattooed on your heart, or am I just being naïve? And when it first slipped out of her lips, did you call me a “friend” and fill her ears with little white lies that you hope she’d believe?

I wonder if my name is a wound that won’t heal. I wonder if every time it gets brought up, you try to sew it back together with the remaining threads of whatever mess this was. When it gets thrown around the room like a game of hot potato, do you still catch it in your hands even though you know it will burn? And do you still think it’s okay to use my heart as ice whenever you please, without caring about the puddles of false hope you leave behind every time you choose to return?

I wonder if my name is a string of letters that sound like nothing but gibberish to you. I wonder if it always meant nothing or if your brain has said it so many times, it’s completely lost its meaning. Is that what happened when you forgot that “love” was so much more than just another noun. And did it feel like home for you too, before our storm tore it down?

I wonder if my name is just another footnote in your story. I wonder if Shakespeare was right when he said a name is but another word. But if that’s the case, then why does my heart still beat out of my chest whenever I hear yours? And will there ever come a time when it won’t send flooding thoughts of you in and out of my mind like torturous revolving doors?

I wonder if my name is a delivery package left on your doorstep that came a bit too late. I wonder if, even after all this time, it takes you by surprise. Do you keep it untouched and return it to the universe because it was never yours in the first place? And, when the thought of something as silly as fate crosses your mind, do you keep it safe in bubble wrap, holding on to it a little longer just in case? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Finding my truth one word (and coffee) at a time.

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