The Naming of Ingrid Aries

(This is thanks to Ingrid Aries for leaving her name in the comments section!)

Dressed in a beautiful blue gown, you wait anxiously in your room. Your blond hair in curls; your bracelet dangling on your wrist. The bracelet your father left you as a baby. The bracelet you’ve never taken off, not even for a second. Because it links you to him. A memory, but only just a memory. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and quickly look away, brushing the tears away.

Today. Such a day. Turning thirteen was supposed to be special; instead, there’s an emptiness inside that’s never been filled. How can it, with him gone? Suddenly, someone knocks on the door. Before you can pull yourself off the bed to open it, your sister enters.

“You ready?”

All you do is glance at her and she’s hugging you.

“You’ll be fine,” she says, softly as she runs her fingers through your hair. “I got through it, remember? You’re stronger than me. And just know, he’s here with you.”

You take three deep breaths, letting the calmness of her words, closeness relax you. He’s here. He’ll always be here. You sit up straight and take her hands. Then smile away the tears. And nod.

Walking towards the Reader, however, feels surreal. A moment in time you’ve never been ready for. You take your seat, like your sister did four years ago. You twist your bracelet with your fingers and scan the room for one face. When you find it, your sense of strength slowly returns. Mother. Smiling, in the corner, she stands. Holding her hands to her chest. Holding, what you know is the locket he left her. Telling you with her eyes he’s here.

You turn. Ready. Whatever comes, whatever the Naming produces, you’ll take it, bravely. Strongly. Because you can face anything.

And there, stands the Reader. She surveys you like a statue. Up and down; circling where you sit. You stare back at her, locking eyes like she’s your lifeline. Finally, minutes later, she pulls from her pouch a quill and slip of parchment. For a few breathless seconds, she lets the quill swim across the paper, ink forming letters you can’t yet see. Then, she hands the slip over to you. No one yet, not even the Reader can see what your Naming has revealed.

In seconds you’ll see. Know and breathe the word you imagined uttering with him here. You hold the slip. But instead of overwhelming sadness racing through you, a surge of warmth grows inside your stomach. Whatever you see below, doesn’t matter. Because your family—your mother, sister, and father—are with you.

You wet your lips; swallow deep; and smile.

Then speak.

“Ingrid Aries. Royal.”

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