(This is thanks to @joshuaisard via Twitter, who liked my tweet!)
“Thirteen-years-old,” you say to yourself in the mirror. You don’t look older. Let alone feel any older. But you’re about to grow up in a way you’ve dreaded for twelve long years.
It could be amazing, your Naming ceremony. Your cousin’s was. His name? Meant Defender. Already he’s training to be a guard at the castle. But two defenders in one family seems unlikely. And while you know there’s no willing your Naming to mean what you want it to mean, there’s a palpable pressure coming from your family to receive something great. Something like Protector. Or Fixer. Or Strong-hearted.
Your dad’s Naming set the tone for the family. Healer. Which has made him the town’s doctor and a well respected man. Already, you’ve heard him mumbling remarks about other kids’ Namings, kids in your class. Who have received less than favorable names. Like Soft-speaker. Earth dweller. Baker. What if you fall into the same category? Will he love you as much?
Hours until the Naming that afternoon and you’ve showered twice. Your hands sweat and your body can’t stay still for more than a few minutes. So you clean; you read; you throw ball with your friends. Until you hear your mom calling you inside. And you’re taking a seat in front of dozens of familiar faces in the living room. “Where is she,” you mutter under your breath, culling through the bodies with your eyes until you spot her. The Reader.
Hunched; thin skinned; wrinkled face. She glides towards you, emotionless. Your heart starts to race. Her stormy eyes pierce your own with a searching, surveying look. You try to look away, but her gaze holds you. She then stops; reaches into a small pouch around her waist, and produces a quill and piece of parchment. For a few breathless seconds, she lets the quill tip swim across the paper, ink forming letters you can’t yet see. But know. Know it’s producing a word that will define your everything.
Seconds feel like minutes. Which feel like hours. Finally, she pockets the quill and holds out the slip of paper. No one yet, not even the Reader can see what your Naming has revealed. Until you take the parchment in your hands. You wet your lips; swallow deep; glance at the expectant faces around the room.
“Joshua Isard. Leader.”