A Name That's True

Feelings on identity explored through a paper thin metaphor of magic.

Names are True. To change one's name was unthinkable. Impossible. The name was an essential part of the being named. Dani knew this, and yet... It wasn't as if invoking her old name had ever worked... She really hoped this name was right.

She steadied herself. Looked at the mirror again. Chanted her name. A momentary flutter in her chest. To speak the Name is to touch the being Named. Did it work?

As quickly as it came, the flutter was gone again. Dani sighed. Nope. Probably just her own excitement.

Behind her, Roma placed her hands on Dani's shoulders. "What's this?"

Dani looked up at her friend - the girl who had been her only companion on this terrifying journey of change - and her body flooded with shame. "I was trying to Name myself," Dani said, ducking her head so Roma couldn't see the tears forming in her eyes. "It didn't work. Maybe I'm just below the notice of the forces of magic."

"Show me," Roma said, pulling a chair from the nearby table to sit beside Dani at the vanity.

Dani repeated her name.

"You're Calling yourself, aren't you?" Roma said. At Dani's blank look, Roma shook her head. "Try Declaring yourself, instead."

"Okay," Dani said, but her voice was full of uncertainty. "My Name is..."

Roma cut in as Dani hesitated. "Confidence."

"My Name is Daniella Nasrin Parisi!"

Immediately, a rush of tingling sparks spilled outward from her heart and travelled down into her fingers and toes. Her cheeks flushed with new life, her limbs ached with restless energy.

"I-I got it," Dani whispered, turning to Roma. "But how did I know...?"

"You want to know a secret?" Roma dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, matching Dani's awed one. "All that stuff about True Names is a fat load of bunk. Your True Name is whatever you believe in your heart that it is. It gives others power over you because you choose to give it to them. And it lets you access your own power in yourself because by speaking it, you show yourself to the world. Everyone just thinks your True Name is the name you're given at birth because lots of people believe in their birth names. But not everyone does."

Dani sat with her hands in her lap. All this time she'd been looking for the right name, believing that it was out there somewhere, that some cosmic force had decided it for her, or forgotten about her entirely...

"Can I try?" Roma asked.

Dani nodded mutely.

The girls sat facing each other. Roma reached out, brushing a hair from Dani's face.

"Daniella..." Roma began. With just this first word, Dani felt a rush. A chill down her spine. Dani felt Roma's gaze on her keenly. Her whole body stood at attention, sensing already that she was being Called.

Dani held her breath as Roma collected herself. To Name someone was as much to draw on yourself as it was to Call them. Only Life could reach out to Life.

Roma's voice, calm and affectionate, started anew. Every syllable dripped with patient understanding. "Daniella Nasrin Parisi."

A silent tension sang in the air between them. Dani's body opened itself to Roma's words, unconsciously responding to the Calling.

Roma hummed, and Dani felt it in every cell of her body. "May the Life you have built in your heart protect and guide you."

With this release of power, this blessing, the Calling was completed and the tension released.

Dani sat back, the warmth she had felt washing through her still lingering in her bones. "Uh... wow..."

Roma smiled. "It's nice to truly meet you, Dani."