I was twelve when I chose my name: Shade. Shade, with all that it implies: the sheltering darkness of the forest in the heat of the summer; the shadow cast by a lone tree or a tall tower in the moonlight; the restless spirit of one whose time came too soon.

Before I named myself, my father called me Daughter, or in moments of tenderness, My Heart, and he called my brother simply Lad. Most of the townspeople knew us as Acorn and Little Oak. Lily – well, everyone called her Lily right from the start, and she never did choose a true-name of her own, but accepted the designation chosen for her, and grew into it.

A hunter and a wanderer, my brother called himself Trace, and it is true that he never lost his way no matter how narrow the track or how faint the trail. He understood his path from childhood, and moved through life with the self-assurance that comes with such fundamental awareness of one’s self and one’s place in the world. I suspect that my brother chose his true-name deliberately, with careful forethought and exploration of hidden meanings. I am certain that if you were to go to North Forest today, his footsteps would still mark the trails he loved to walk.

If I had known then what I knew now – if I could have seen deep enough into the murky future – I wonder what name I might have chosen? A brighter true-name would surely have led me to a different place; a softer one may have brought me to a more serene, more comfortable life. But I chose Shade, and on the day I chose my name, my name chose me.

This post is not a response to a prompt at all. Instead, I’m sharing one of my favorite pieces, written four years ago, in hopes that it will inspire me to re-think the story that follows. It is not related to any of my previous posts, which will eventually have to have some sort of collective name.

9 thoughts on “Shade

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