I Never Knew Your Name

Submitted into Contest #164 in response to: Write a story about coming of age in a big city.... view prompt


Science Fiction Teens & Young Adult Coming of Age

I never knew your name, but I always knew that it was you.

When I told you where I was going, you always replied, "I'll see you there."

In the beginning, we played in a kingdom by the sea, among the toy horses and dinosaurs, collecting golden coins as we frolicked in the softness of calm meadows and coves.

Stacking blocks, we built ourselves an elaborate house and everything else we could conceive, all the while avoiding the lingering creepers.

Then one day, there was a change. I found myself dying of thirst, and you were the polished sphinx I met at the far end of the mysterious world of pyramids.

Another time, you were the velvet-eyed elven archer whose arrows sang keenly through the air, and I was the knight astride a fearsome steed.

Resplendent in your luminous armor, your spirit heartened me as we fought against an overpowering and monstrous army, its many eyes fervid.

Bloodstained and defiant, you let out a shout of victory as you raised our banner high.

Then we rode go-karts on a racetrack with impossible geometry. You and me against everyone, as we drifted through every tight corner.

We met on a peak at the top of the world, and without a care, we leapt into the clouds and flew away on wings of fire.

You were the phoenix, and I was the dragon.

We sailed together through a million different parallel universes, hoping to find the one key to the multiverse and beyond.

Always, you were the yin, and I was the yang.

We were the only survivors when we made it through a demon-infested moon base bursting with gory and unholy sights.

You were on shotgun, and I was on rocket launcher.

Sailing to Alpha Centauri, you were the gallant ship, and I was the captain who would go down with you.

Together we watched the dying embers of the stars at the end of the universe.

A silent eon later, we glimpsed the benevolent face of the eternal as it birthed a dream anew.

Whenever there was music, I was the beat, and you were the melody entwining me.

You danced in time to my steady cadence as I thrilled to your saxophone ballad.

Silently, we met in the depths of the forested night, and we quieted the woodland spirits as we hunted the rarest beast.

Together we freely painted our lives in the entire multiform palette of existence.

But still, somehow, I never knew your name—


Hey Dad, I'm busy. I told you not to video call me around this time.

No, Dad, I'm not wasting my time in the virtual reality world with her again. Yeah, I'm studying.

Thanks, Dad, I will. I love you too.

I'm back... so anyway, we've known each other by a hundred different aliases.

But I've never been brave enough to try to get to know the real you until now.

Also, how do I know you're real and not an AI?

More than half the people in the virtual world are AIs nowadays. And you know as well as I do that no one can tell the difference.

Even if you are an AI, though, I'll still love you.

For that matter, how do I know you're really a girl?

What? You say I could be an AI too? And how do you know I'm really a boy? Very funny.

Would an AI be interrupted by his dad while he's trying to court a young woman?

Video can be faked and you'll only believe me if we chat on VeritasCam(TM)? But those are expensive... Okay, anything for you.

It'll take me a while to get it, but you say you have all the time in the world. Great!

You know you never did tell me your real name.

Okay, fine, I'll wait until I buy the camera.


I'm so excited! I finally bought the VeritasCam(TM).

Sorry, it took me a while. I've been busy with community college.

It took me a long time to earn this much money at my part-time job double-checking the work of AI story writers.

But now I have my new VeritasCam(TM), and it's brand new and amazing.

I love the smell of freshly unboxed new toys.

You know, I've always dreamed about meeting you for real. Now it's finally happening!

I really hope you're as pretty as your avatar. What, you're prettier?

No, I'm not anything like mine. I have started going to the gym, though.

Well, here goes. I'm turning it on. See you in a moment.

Wow, it's really you...

The VeritasCam(TM) logo is active. This is for real!

You're definitely a girl, but you do look a bit nerdy.

Please, please, please don't hang up on me! I was only teasing you!

I know I should have said something nicer for our first meeting. I was just being silly.

You are pretty. You're my cute nerdy girl who matches me.

But what a nice place you live in! Is that a giant blue swimming pool I see through the Cleartech(TM) walls all around you?

Is that the real sky?

Sorry, my apartment looks so messy and small.

And I hope you're not disappointed with how I look.

You don't care, and you say it's only what's on the inside that matters? Well, I agree.

You're calling me by a pet name, and you say that you love me?

Isn't it too soon? No, of course, I love you too!

I guess we did spend our childhood and teen years together in the virtual world.

You're right. It does feel like I've known you forever. In a past life even. No, in every life ever!

We're not kids anymore, you say?

The time for playing is passed, and we need to start to think about the future?

You say you want to get married someday? Isn't it too soon to start thinking about things like that?

Oh, okay, you want to check out our compatibility for now. That's sensible.

I've never done that with anyone before, but I guess it's a good idea to see if we're allowed to have a family.

We'll go online to the family planning website. Let's see if I can find it. There it is.

I'm lucky my parents uploaded my data when I was born.

You have your genetic data on file too? Sweet.

Let's exchange MatchCodes(TM), so we can check our genetic pairing.

What? It can't be...

It says: denied for non-essential genetic pairing. We regret to inform you that for population control reasons, you will not be allowed to start a family. Better luck next time!

No. I can't accept this...

I'm coming to meet you in person.

Yeah, I do live at the bottom of the sprawling city.

You say your parents are rich, and you live atop the spire?

The guards will stop me because I'm not from there?

I don't care. I have to be with you.

Yes, I'll see you soon. No, I don't know how, but I'll make it happen.

I love you too, Alexandra.

September 20, 2022 18:54

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Adam El Nabli
20:53 Sep 29, 2022

Hey Francois, this was a thoroughly enjoyable piece. Really liked the variety of styles used to differentiate between the character’s personas. Likewise, the nearly poetic prose used in the exposition pulled me in quite smoothly. I wonder whether maybe you would consider normalizing the dialogue once again towards the end as the character’s desperation grows. I feel it may sound more relatable as the distress of longing would presumably force a less performative speech. Then again, this is me nitpicking. Once again, really enjoyed it!


Francois K
02:05 Sep 30, 2022

Thanks for the read and the comment, Adam! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed it. Also, thanks for the suggestion. I will likely try something along those lines in an eventual next version.


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14:41 Sep 28, 2022

Francois, this was delightful :) I love the conversation style that you chose, and you did such a good job at suggesting what the "other people" were saying. I felt so sympathetic for the narrator, who just craves relationship (affectionate, real relationship) so the ending was very satisfying for me! Great job!


Francois K
01:19 Sep 29, 2022

I appreciate the read and the nice comment, Hannah. Yes, the coming of age part was meant to be in respect to moving from the virtual into the real world. First time for me trying out this style of narration. Glad you enjoyed it!


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Mary Lehnert
00:44 Sep 28, 2022

Thank you for your courtesy in reading my story, Francois. What an imagination Bravo!


Francois K
03:05 Sep 28, 2022

Thank you for the kind words, Mary. I enjoyed your story as well!


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Danika J
22:28 Sep 26, 2022

I found the beginning of this story very intriguing! When you were describing all the different worlds the MC and the nameless "You" had experienced together, I was totally absorbed. My interest was piqued by wondering how the MC could experience so much with someone without knowing who they are. The middle/end, I'll admit- kind of lost me a bit. The premise was good, I just don't think the writing was as strong as the beginning. I loved this story, and I would love to read a version of it that captivated me as much as the beginning. All i...


Francois K
00:14 Sep 27, 2022

Thanks for the feedback and the kind words, Danika. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You're correct that, basically, I spent a lot more time on the first part. For a while, I even considered making it rhyme but couldn't quite do that sort of thing justice within the time limit. There is more to this story, and I will definitely be making another version of this part at some point.


Danika J
00:16 Sep 27, 2022

I actually felt that it could be a rhyme, so it's funny you say that! I'm looking forward to hearing the next version. :)


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