My Real Name
by William Michaelian

It was nice of you to invite me for dinner, I said. I really appreciate it.

Well, she said, it looks like you havenít been eating. I wanted to feed you.

Iíd like to eat, I said, but I donít have any money.

Have you considered a job?

No, I havenít. Whatís a job again?

A job is where you work for somebody and they pay you.

I see. Thatís interesting. And just what kind of work is it?

What do you mean, what kind of work is it?

I mean, what do you have to do to make someone pay you?

You do whatever they want you to do, silly.

Really? That seems like a poor arrangement. No, I donít think Iíd care to be involved in that sort of thing.

Itís not that simple. If you donít get involved, youíll end up starving.

I will? Oh, well. I guess Iíll starve, then.

Do you like spaghetti?

Yes, of course I like spaghetti. Why do you ask?

Do you like fried chicken?

Yes, the few times Iíve had it. I also like pancakes. Whatís your point?

My point is, if you get a job, youíll be able to afford those things. Do you understand?

No. What I understand is that you invited me for dinner, and that I took you up on your invitation, and that we are here in your kitchen, talking.

Well, thatís something, anyway.

Itís more than something. To me, it means a great deal.

Does it? What does it mean, if I may ask?

It means you care about me. I like that.

What else does it mean?

Why? Does it need to mean more?

I donít know. Possibly.

Iím not sure what you want me to say.

Oh, I think you know. Itís just that itís not easy for you. But thatís okay. I understand.
Maybe you can say it for me, then.

Okay, I will. You also care about me.

Thank you!

But not enough to get a job.

Ah, thatís where youíre wrong. I care about you so much, I refuse to get a job.

Huh?

Think about it. As I understand it, if I get a job, it will take up most of my time. That in itself would be a disaster. Not only that, the time Iíd have left would be spent being angry about the time Iíd wasted. And if I was angry, our time together, if and when we could manage it, would be poisoned by irritation and despair.

Are you sure you havenít worked before? You sound like you have.

Of course I have. Iíve worked every day of my life. I believe in work. What I donít believe in is frittering away the short time I have on this earth.

Which is what I do, in other words.

I donít know. Is it?

Apparently, according to your theory.

Itís not a theory. Itís my life.

Okay, according to your life, then.

You know, itís funny. If Iím not mistaken, you seem very defensive about your job. Could it be you donít like what youíre doing for a living, and would rather not talk about it because you feel trapped and donít know what to do?

Oh, shut up.

Okay. As you wish.

I said, shut up.

I am shutting up. See?

For your information, I like what I do. My job is interesting, and itís helped me meet a lot of people. That, and ó okay, stop looking at me like that. Did you hear me? I said, stop ó Matthew? Why donít you say something? Donít just ó Matthew! Will you please say something? When I said shut up, I didnít mean you should stop talking, for heavenís sake.

Whew! Iím glad you said that. I donít think I could have held my breath any longer.

Youíre something, you know that? Youíre really something. I love you.

I love you, too. When do we eat?

Eat? Why, you rat. I thought you said you cared.

Oh, I do, I do. And Iíll care even more with something in my stomach. What about that roast? Isnít it ready yet?

No, itís not ready. I just put it in the oven twenty minutes ago.

Canít we eat it raw?

Not without getting sick. Here. Have some more wine.

No, Iíd better not. The first glass has already gone to my head.

Yes, Iím aware of that.

What about you? Would you like another glass?

Come to think of it, I would. In fact, Iíd like another bottle.

Okay, Iíll get it for you.

Now, now. I know what youíre thinking.

You do? What am I thinking?

Youíre trying to get me drunk.

Really? Why would I want to do that?

So you can take advantage of me.

I mean besides that.

Matthew!

Here. Hold up your glass. There we go. Good girl. Now, take a little drink. Letís get you nice and drunk, shall we? My little Samantha needs to unwind after her hard day at the office. Thatís it. Have another sip. Donít worry about your lipstick. This color is better. Itís more earthy, if you know what I mean. Now. Why donít we slip out of these tight shoes weíre wearing and let our cute little feet breathe?

Matthew, stop.

Stop? Okay. Whatever you say.

No. Donít.

Donít? Which is it?

She kissed me. It took a nice long time. But not long enough for the roast to be ready. So I kissed her back. But it was still an awkward kiss. So, to practice, we kissed some more.

Matthew, she said when our lips were numb, when are you going to tell me your real name?

My real name? I said. What difference does it make?

I love you, she said. Thatís what difference it makes.

I looked at Samanthaís lovely, emotional face. It made me wonder what my face looked like. We are so different, in so many ways. Different, and yet the same, in spite of the fact that she is from Earth and I am from another planet, illuminated by another sun, far, far away. And then I noticed something. My hunger was no longer only in my stomach, but all over. It was even in my mind.

I love you, I said finally. Thatís my name.

Samantha laughed. What a beautiful name, she said. Thank you for telling me.

William Michaelianís newest releases are two poetry collections, Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, published in paperback by Cosmopsis Books in San Francisco. His short stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in many literary magazines and newspapers. His novel,
A Listening Thing, is published here in its first complete online edition. For information on Michaelianís other books and links to this siteís other sections, please go to the Main Page or visit Flippantly Answered Questions.

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