"True-Name" a piece about the power of names

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I didn't always hate my name. I can remember Mother flying into our little hole in the tree, wings shaking from the stress of the day, but when she saw me, her glow was renewed and she’d say my name like a blessing. Because it was. To her. But that was when I was younger, and it was just my family and I. That was my universe — the little hole in the tree with my mother, father, and older sister.  They knew my name, and I knew theirs, and that's all that mattered. 

Then came the time where I had to do what all the young ones had to do; go to school. One by one, the leader called us up to introduce ourselves, and just like that, dozens of creatures now knew my name, and I theirs. Looking back there was obvious naivety in my actions. I presumed that, just like my family, they would respect my name and use it gently — like the blessing my mother knew it to be.

It did not sit right with me though, even then. These creatures had my name, but they knew nothing of me… save for what moon I was born under, my favorite color, and that my favorite tree was a Gingko. Out of all those pieces of information, it felt almost too intimate to give them my name. But I was a good student and I listened to my leader. They had it, and then soon enough, others had it too. Creatures in the tree would approach me and say “oh you're ____, right? You're the one who worked on fixing that upper branch? Very well done.” I would say thank you. 

As time went on, more creatures knew my name, without truly knowing me. Why did they deserve to have this part of me when they knew hardly anything else? They tainted my name with their hands and their mouths. I received compliments on my name itself — comments about how “pretty” and “sweet” it was. “Just like you,” they’d say. I would say thank you, as a good creature should, but it wasn't me they were addressing, anymore. It was who they thought I was. Who they wanted me to be. The name that came out of their mouths wasn’t me anymore and I hated who they said it to be. I resented the name, but I did not resent the throats that abused it. 

I didn't know that, then. I assumed everybody felt that same weight — the sensations of hands trying to mold them. I assumed it was a gradual process of our life, slowly distancing yourself from your name. How could you not? The monikers of our existence being used by fellow creatures to command you, to imprint their desires of who they wanted you to be and not who you were. I couldn't take it anymore. My name was no longer a blessing, but a curse. 

One night, overwhelmed after dinner, I huddled against my sister and whispered, “I don't like my name anymore.” The shutter of her wings was all she let show her surprise. She asked why I didn't like it, but I struggled to answer. I didn't know exactly why. I just knew that it wasn’t me anymore and I didn’t like it. 

She leaned her head atop my own as I burrowed closer. Then she said, “well, do you want to change it?” I didn't know that that had even been an option. Relief bubbled like a spring in my spirit. I could change my name and I could start anew. A placeholder, a decoy that I was willing to give to others. I could finally keep my name mine after so many years of not having a say in the matter. Mother and Father took it well. They loved my name, the way it encompassed who I was to them, and while they loved that name so much, they loved seeing me happy more.

After that moment I didn't hide the pain anymore. My family saw the way it hurt me every time they accidently let it escape their lips.  As time went on, I began to surround myself with only those who knew me by my chosen name. It  turned into other names as it evolved, and nicknames ensued. 

I still despised my other name.

I pushed it as far from my consciousness as possible. A broken mirror I dared not go near. I got hurt every time I did. I would be suddenly reminded that I was once known as ____, and with it came that pressure again. The pressure to be a perfect little creature.  Be sweet, tuck your wings away. Don’t say those sorts of things, don’t think those sorts of things. You’re a good creature, you can’t go play in the mud. You can’t, you shouldn’t, you mustn’t, because you’re you, and that’s what you would do, right? I would feel that crust of years begin to settle back on me.  Nonetheless, iIt was still part of me. The ties attaching me to it were tight and straining. I hoped one day that I could detach myself from it and all the dirt it gathered but never asked for. For years I could barely think of that name without losing sense of who I was. I fought and struggled to pull it away from me until I looked at it. And I saw me. 

 Hard to see at first, under all the grime and cracks it had endured, but it was still me. My roots and foundations were built upon that name. The first time I felt the love of my family was with that name. I looked in that mirror, at myself, and I said my name. The same name at the core of my existence. I said it until it didn't hurt anymore, and then until it was just a word, and then until it wasn't just a word anymore. I said it until it was me, again. I cleaned it. Purified it from the motivations, desires, and ill intentions that so many had placed upon my name. Upon me. I cleaned it and it was mine again. I held it to myself. I kept trying to tell it that I was so sorry. Sorry for giving it to those who didn’t treat it right. Sorry that I had neglected it - neglected myself- for so long. Through the strain of years, the damage it took from those who had never deserved to have it is still there, but I'm mending the wounds, and treating the stains. 

Humans have gotten a lot wrong about us, and, truthfully, we’d like to keep it that way. Many of their stories and beliefs are cruel and mean, but we pay them no mind. They believe that if they can obtain the “true-name” of a creature, they can make one do their bidding. Equally, some even believe that if we ever got their name, we could do the same. It's wrong, obviously, but I enjoy the sentiment of a true-name. A name that is just yours — that holds so much power you mustn't go spreading it about. So that's what I began to call ____ .My true-name. Because it's mine and it's powerful and I will never let man nor creature have that power over me again. I am ____, and I am mine and mine alone. 

3 Kudos


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goopee's profile picture

Dude this is so beautiful!

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thank u! I wrote it for a maf in feb but they still havent done anything with it so fuck it, its here now lol

by ✰Sunny Cherub Boy✰; ; Report

✰Sunny Cherub Boy✰

✰Sunny Cherub Boy✰'s profile picture

EEEE first actual piece posted! what do u think?

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