In the beginning, it was snuggle-butt and cuddle-squirrel, sugarcane, kitten breath and squishy-bear. But with each passing year the names took on a more absurd nature and slimy-cheeks appeared one day like briny water in the hull of our foundering ship hopelessly snagged on some unseen rocks. I once called her squid finger, apple tooth; she referred to me as her little crustacean. Finally, towards the end, it became, oh my furry tarantula, poison muffin, jagged little rock; squirmy snake — where’s my squirmy little snake? She would lift her head from behind a laptop but only for a second.


Santian Vataj is 32 years old and teaches history in the Bronx, New York, not far from where he grew up.


Photo Credit: Mikal Marquez


2 Responses to “Names”

  1. Jordan Green says:

    this certainly is an exquisite very well worded memoir. Very proud.

  2. chris says:

    Santian-This is fantastic writing and a beautiful portrayal of movement through a (disintegrating) love. In a world of passive aggressive, you have really walked an accurate and poignant tightrope.

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