In two words–not even two words; a word and a letter–he had demolished me. My entire being seemed to disappear in the split second that I absorbed the greeting. Three letters more, that’s all it would have taken to make me feel like a person. But they were missing, and so was my identity.
Any email I had received from him was signed with a letter. S. Like he, himself, was not worthy of the four other letters in his name, either. Was I being brought down to his level? I felt smothered, under pressure to be just that. Just what he wanted, just how he wanted. In a split second, I was exhausted. His foot was grinding the remaining letters of my name under his heel, like one might do to a cigarette butt. You can feel it, hear it grind against the concrete, mashed between his boot and the ground. Was it that I was being taken into his club? His league? Yes, he might have whispered, her writing is nearly good enough. I don’t want to throw it against the wall and pull my hair out. She is like me. That’s what he might have said–and wouldn’t that be weird? Doesn’t he know? At the same time that I felt a twinge of happiness (I’m cool enough for that closeness) I don’t want to be like him. I don’t want to be like anyone. I certainly don’t want to be a letter.
In some poetic symmetry, our letters are the same. We might be vastly different, but our letters are not. And I have to wonder: was it just laziness? A way of feeling more familiar? Could he not remember how to spell my name?
This should not affect me so. This is a form of insanity, breathing heavily over the same thing, hours on end, wondering his motives. Familiarity, maybe, or laziness? Camaraderie or desperation? Simple forgetfulness? I can’t stop thinking about it. Why the S, why so informal? He shouldn’t make me feel empty, blank, without an identity. I shouldn’t feel like just one of many, many students. So many that he can’t keep track of the true spelling of my name. No h in Sara, Professor.