what's in a name

it hurt her to hear his name said aloud.

to have it hang in the air.

it was a physical pain, as real as the splintered wood of the chair poking the back of her leg.

the sound of it snagged her breath. made breathing shallow.

you don't get to say it, she wanted to say. it's not your name to say.

but nor was it hers.

and that was what hurt.

that she had no more right--no more power--than that half-stranger across the room who had released it into the air--that half-stranger who mistook the easy smile for the whole of the truth.

that he was not hers to love or know or think about. that she might never say his name and have him hook her round the hips in pure ecstasy just at having heard it uttered by her perfect lips, in her own imperfect way.

that she might never see him again, know him again, love him again. that all that would be left would be his name hanging in the air, uttered by someone else.

so yes, the pain was real.