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Names

by Liminality


There was this thing about names. People had to make themselves into one thing or another. Just out of those at the big house that night, creaking in and out the sticky sliding doors, there were five or six Divinitys, seven or eight Loyaltys.

You, for one, had decided to be Nothing.

You collected the satay at the charcoal fire. You got white ash in your hair just like everyone else from the octopus-armed uncles swinging their jowly limbs back and forth. You sat on the swing and balanced the tray on your lap. Your shoulder grazed a silvery peel of paint.

They had stopped asking you questions, by now.

Occasionally, a voice spiked out of the cacophony. “Where’s Nothing?” Laughter followed.

“Who?”

You let them have their fun. After all, you hadn’t told them the big news yet.

Hours before the party, when the sky was still light grey, you had been packing your bedroom into the boot of your car. Wasn’t it just your bedroom you needed to bring? All the journals, all the devices – phone, laptop, all – that was where you lived your life. You could make do with any house.

This one, in particular, could fade into the thickening night and nothing would change.

One of the Loyaltys plopped down next to you. He had a grin like a hawk, lips like an oily snake sliced down the belly. He slapped you on the shoulder.

“You know,” he said, stage-tilting his head to one side. “-years ago, I never thought we would welcome a Nothing into this household. And yet here you are.”

“Here they are!” a couple of the Divinitys echoed.

Mouth full of warm sauces and spicy meat, it was easy to nod and smile. You looked up at the gibbous moon. Soon.

Soon came a hulking red truck thundering into the driveway. Two Loyaltys stood up, plastic chairs screeching under them, and they greeted the truck driver – a third Loyalty. They all clustered together, with their plaid collared shirts and their one-armed hugs. The third Loyalty had come from downtown. He pinched at something in his passenger’s seat and withdrew a comically small bag of sugar donuts. They all burst into bellowing guffaws.

“So,” one of the Divinitys slid up and put her soft hand on your shoulder. “What are you planning next? Uni?”

This was the Divinity who had gone to the mountains to pray and eat grass and nothing else. She’d made good on her name. It made her glad in retrospect, she said, that she’d changed it. Her smooth skin crinkled slightly when she winked at you. “Eighteen is a very special age.”

You shrugged, maybe – or you cringed. It was hard to describe what your own body did, when it felt like a puppet or marionette. Sometimes it just dangled there from the edge of your mind and you could see down its front. A torso. Two legs. Shoes.

Tomorrow, you’d leave. You smiled, knowing that for certain. Maybe somewhere, in a deep pit of guts, you thought of how you’d known that the day before and the day before and the day –

Yes, the day would come when you’d leave. For now, though, you told the Divinity you didn’t know yet. Then you stood up and trod across wet grass for more satay. You could always do nothing, and you knew that.

Above, the moon pulled its blanket of clouds over both shoulders and slept.


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90 Reviews


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Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:55 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey! Plume here, with a review!

This was a very thought-provoking piece. It was thoroughly intriguing and I found it very interesting. The way you write is incredible. It kept me thoroughly visualizing the piece. So, great job!

One thing I really loved was your author's voice. It's so rich and professional. I loved the way you sprinkled in details and images and— augh it was so impeccable. It felt so smooth and unique. I especially liked your character descriptions. From just a few lines, I felt like i could understand their character. You also gave sort-of irrelevant information. Well, not irrelevant per se, but... trivial. It was simple, but unique, and it felt so real. It's exactly how humans recall details about people; we tend to skim over physical descriptions, and instead remember really interesting details. This was especially prevalent in sections like

This was the Divinity who had gone to the mountains to pray and eat grass and nothing else. She’d made good on her name. It made her glad in retrospect, she said, that she’d changed it.


I thought the concept of this was interesting too. It was so... unique. And I mean that in the best way possible. It was so cool and phenomenal and interesting. I want to know more! I'm not sure if this is part of a bigger universe or plotline, but I'd love to read more.

One concern I have is the use of second person. Normally, I'm all for a second person narrative, but this felt kinda... unusual. I think since you're already putting the reader in a completely new environment with all these name things, and you're using second person. It also carries with it a sort of "you're the main character, so you should know what's going on." And the fact that I didn't know what was going on was a bit unsettling and made the story a bit harder to read.

Overall: phenomenal tale! It was absolutely brilliant, and I had such a great time reading it. It sounded very professional, almost like it was something that could be read in English class!! Keep writing!




Liminality says...


Thank you for the review! Yes, I absolutely agree with your point on the second-person narration. I do think the story would probably work better with first-person narration now that I'm looking at it. Thanks again!



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Mon Nov 23, 2020 4:30 pm
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MadilynReads wrote a review...



I love the PoV of this story! The whole mood that you created is very mysterious and charming! I appreciate how poetic your words are and that you didn’t care to explain everything, it contributed to the theme greatly! I especially liked the last sentence, “ Above, the moon pulled its blanket of clouds over both shoulders and slept.” that really ties it up nicely!




Liminality says...


Thank you for the kind words! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this story :D




A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.
— Jean Cocteau