It has been mine now two months; yet this name confounds me still. Giuseppina. Giuseppina Guillaume. My tongue stumbles over its unfamiliar sounds; my hand, as I sign, hesitates, threatens to trace instead the pattern of my other name, my other self. My husband calls me two, three times before I respond; my ear, accustomed to the harsh staccato of my given name, catches not the languid softness of this new one. Guiseppina.
I, who know the weight of words, who measure sound and syllable, chose this name—he granted me that liberty, at least, though at the time the choice seemed but a lovers' game, inconsequential. I never guessed how the very sound of the word would capture the contours of my life. Guiseppina: the soft, suggestive whisper of the first two syllables explodes in a crescendo that fades quickly to a sigh. A fitting emblem of the woman I have become. Guiseppina. I choke on the irony.
Now he approaches, my husband, the man who allowed me this name. He takes my hand, caressing it as though petting a small creature's soft fur.
"Giuseppina," he whispers. From his lips, the sound is round and sweet, like a plum.
"Yes, my lord?"
"Do you mind if I call you Jo?"
Continuation: Nancy Conner