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November 12, 2020

My Husband's Name

Corbin Dewitt

Before the wedding, everyone wanted to know if I planned to take my husband's name. At first I wasn't sure—it's not how I was raised. But then the idea started to appeal to me. I began to daydream about what life would be like with my husband's name: the elegant stationary I could order, the way the name would look printed on checks. I had the opportunity to become someone entirely new. Why pass it up?

It required some preparation, of course. Paperwork to complete, fees to pay. We were both terribly busy, but most of the wedding planning fell to me, so it wasn't hard to make a few extra arrangements here and there. (He never was too good at details, my husband.) I had to forge his signature once or twice. It gave me a little thrill to know soon it would be my own.

After the ceremony—City Hall; a few close friends; a neat white linen suit and a handful of gardenias; cake and champagne in the lobby of a nearby hotel—we returned to the suite we'd rented for our honeymoon night. I was delirious with joy. Soon the plan would be complete.

We were both a little dizzy from champagne. He began to kiss me, and we fell back on the bed, slipping eagerly out of our fine wedding clothes.

Afterwards, he fell asleep, as he often did. Once I got dressed again, I went through his pockets and pulled out the few remaining pieces of his name: credit cards, driver’s license, an old student ID. These I placed into my own pockets. I took a little knife I had brought for the purpose and excised his name from our wedding certificate. Then, thinking it wouldn't do for him to take my name in retaliation, I cut out my own. Two little slips of white paper—I lifted them to my mouth and swallowed. It was done.

Before I left I glanced back to take one last look at my husband: sprawled naked on top of the white hotel coverlet, his breathing slow and regular, his lips parted just-so, the line of his hips traced in gold by the fading sun. Nameless. I smiled—if you must know, the sight moved me almost to tears, I felt so grateful—and shut the door. For all I know, he is lying there still.