He counted the days on his rock, one stone-stitched etch for each day. The stone was covered by marks—one etching upon another, revealing layers upon layers of stone.
Also on the stone, on the side he had yet to make any etchings, he kept his name. He read it every day to remind himself who he was: “Flint.”
“My name is Flint,” He would announce to the rising sun. There was no one around him to hear his proclamation, to appreciate his announcement of his very identity.
But what was in that name?
Flint knew nothing beyond the sound of the name in his mouth, harsh consonants surrounding a short vowel. A sound that echoed on still days across desert sands, long empty and devoid of life.
He knew his name, but he had long forgotten everything else about himself. He could not remember his mother’s embrace, a lover’s touch, or even the taste of food. All he knew was his name, and a name alone, at times, seemed to be worthless. He etched another line on his rock, etched it crosswise over a horizontal line already in place. There were several days marked below this line—so many lines covering the face of his rock. He wondered how long it would be before he had to scratch over his own name to make room for the many days he counted off, one by one.
When his name was covered over, illegible, when the harsh winds of time corroded the memory of the very sound of his name from his mind, would he still be himself? What did a name matter if he did not know who he was in the first place?
Tomorrow, he decided, he would etch a line on the other side of the rock. Tomorrow, he decided, he would begin to let even his own name go, to break free from that sound. He would stop proclaiming it to an empty world without ears to hear. There was a glimmer in his dry and ancient eyes. Perhaps if he lost himself, he might find himself?
But tomorrow came, and he could not bring himself to scratch away his name.
“I am Flint!” he shouted, defiant, as wind-driven sand pelted him from a sandstorm. “I am Flint, and I will not be etched away.”