My Life, Aquatic
rating: +11+x

"Marine? That's a really pretty name!" The intoxicated stranger said with a grin.

That's common response number four.

The most common response is to say "Oh, like the water." Which is both dumb and not fully accurate. The dictionary definition for marine is something found in the sea.

The second most common response is for someone to toss a salute and say either "attention" or "ten-hut" as if they are the first person in human history to make that joke about my name.

The third most common response is "Oh, is that French?" which is a whole rabbit hole I don't like having to dive down. To simplify it, my mom was certain she was having a girl and started referring to her unborn child as "Aquamarine", she was dead set on that name. One ultrasound later and she finds out that she's having twins. Rather than do the almost rational thing and name one of us Aquamarine, she just saws the name in half. My sister is Aqua because she came out first, and I'm Marine because the first half was already taken. So no, it isn't French. My mom is mostly Irish and we lived in Peoria.

And as previously stated, the fourth most common response is to comment on how pretty my name is. I don't know how people find it pretty, this name is a burden to live with.

High school sucked. That's where the "ten huts" really bulked up their numbers. My few close friends usually refrained from it, but I was never quite safe from the joke rearing its ugly head.

I made a promise to myself I'd run off to a distant college and there I could go by my middle name. Christina, but I'd just have everyone call me Tina. Then I'd finally be free. I busted my ass on my SATs and picked up as many extra curricular activities as I could while keeping my grades up. I worked hard to make sure I could get into any college I wanted. And I did. Yale. Anthropology major. I was soaring towards freedom, a freedom named Tina. I packed my bags, I loaded up my car, and I sped off onto a new adventure. Freshman orientation.

They had name tags.

Already printed out and ready-to-go name tags.

I was given a sheet with the contact information for my advisor, the key to my dorm, and a huge name tag with Marine in bold, allegedly to help me socialize. I didn't even bother asking. I accepted my fate. Another fours years of Marine. I excelled at my studies again. I worked as hard as I could every day and every night. I picked up extra classes in History and Global Affairs. I took public speaking classes. I was going make it so I could move anywhere I want, land a high paying gig, and be definitely known as Tina. No one would ever heard the word "Marine" and think of me. A few extra years with my accursed name and I'd finally be free forever.

I took an on campus job helping to manage the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments. I got really good at answering all the questions people had coming through. One day passing through was an older gentleman who took a great interest in me. Whenever he had a question he'd just watch as I went on and on with every bit of information I had about the instrument. At the end of his walk through the museum he asked how soon until I graduated. As it happened, I was due to graduate just two months later. He handed me a business card and told me to call him as soon as I had my degree. He looked down at my badge. Marine. He said he'd be sure to never forget that name.

That man was Mr. Dark. That man is now my boss.

He did not forget my name.

Six figures a year. Luxury apartment in Manhattan. A Rolls-Royce Phantom. Drinks for free and flashy company dinners every week. I'd made it.

Marine still persisted.

I'm the company's favorite lobby girl. As guest walk around, they're sure to stumble upon many things that we have for sale. I typically tell them the wild and fascinating stories behind whatever strange anomaly they're looking at. I some times converse with clients for hours.

After they've been introduced to me as "Marine".

Today is the kind of day where I lead the show. Some ultra hipster rap artist is debuting an album that he only made one copy of, which will go to auction immediately after he plays it to the crowd gathered here today. The lyrics are a bunch of Fifthist nonsense about love and space and the like and the production leaves much to be desired. It does attracts a very specific type of client though, and the building has been filled to the brim with some of our finest musical oddities. A guitar that rings out with a woman's voice, a piano that improvises ragtime on command, a trumpet that has been known to act as a precursor to some rather wild parties. I am the woman for this job, no question about it.

"This is exactly in Marine's wheelhouse." A coworker said the evening before, when the instruments were being loaded in.

Indeed. I'm on my eighth sale of the evening. This is totally my wheelhouse.

Marshall, Carter, and Dark allows their employees to mix business and pleasure. Actually, they pretty much encourage it. The man in front of me is fairly attractive. He's apparently the brains of a beloved indie band. He's eyeing me in such a fashion that I don't think he'll need any persuading if I invite him up to my apartment after the event.

And he just told me how pretty the name Marine is.

Goddammit.

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