My name’s Nicholas Romanov. I give myself the nickname, “tsar.” I print it on cards for my piano school. Nicholas “Tsar” Romanov, Instructor.
Pupils question me. Who gave you that right? Nicknames are earned, they proclaim with righteousness. Nicknames are predicated on allergies. Tics. Quirks.
I tell them people ought to assign their own nicknames. It’s demeaning to have others label on an arbitrary basis. They used to nickname me freak and nerd because I preferred Tchaikovsky over pogs.
I print up more cards, TSAR emblazoned in largest letters.
I lose business, stand firm. I dispense more cards.
I’m a tsar.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His story, “Soon,” was nominated for a Pushcart. Yash’s stories are forthcoming or have been published in Café Lit, Mad Swirl, 50 Word Stories, and Ariel Chart, among others.