Flash Fiction: Seven Names

“I will name my first born child after you! Please, just let me play one more game.”

Those are the words I imagine my father saying each time he rolled another hand of dice. I imagine him sweating slightly and wiping his brow with a dirty rag. I imagine him as a jittery man who can’t grow proper whiskers and with a smile that makes even dogs uncomfortable.

My first name is Janine. It is from a fairy queen I am told he lost a game of dice to when he bragged he could beat even her at such a game. Borrowing names is a powerful thing in the fairy realm, so I hear. So the name, like all my names, came with a blessing. And a curse.

I am beautiful, so beautiful I am irresistible. But that too is the curse.

My second name is Henny. It is named for a large man in the Appalachian Mountains my father lost a bet too. I think his full name is Hendrick. He had wolf blood in his veins they say and was huge beyond belief. With his name came the blessing of great height, I am always the tallest woman in the room and I am very hard to miss. And it is very hard to hide.

My third name is Lorraine. I am named for a brothel owner in Tuscany who my dad owed more money than God to they say and Lorraine would take my name in exchange. I don’t think she knew she would be sharing it with three other people- eventually seven. She had selkie in her blood and along with her name came the ability to swim. I can swim without tiring for hours on end, but the call of the ocean is always strong and alluring within me. A steady tide that sings to me without end. And I must always resist.

My fourth name is Mandrake. I think this one was a joke that an elf bestowed upon me when my father trespassed into his land. My father was let go only after he promised the name of his first born to the elf. The creature chose “Mandrake” and I am immune to most poisons, but I must never kiss another human being. For my spit itself is also poison.

My fifth name is Charlene. I am named after a princess who was told by my father that he could cure her great illness. He could not but he pledged my name to her instead. The princess promised a blessing: I would be able to command people on a whim. But I cannot turn it off. I rarely speak to others now.

My sixth name is Winter. I am named for a dead sailor lost at sea. My father disturbed his grave they say and he asked to stop being haunted if he gave up his first born child’s name. And so he did. I can see them. Ghosts and spirits and those who are long past.

They never let me sleep.

My seventh name is yet to be filled. For am tired. Beautiful, tall, gifted swimmer, poison-proof, commanding, dead-seer. What other gifts would a daughter want from her father? Lonely, cursed, longing, disturbed daughter.

There is a seventh name I am going to give myself. Janine Henny Lorraine Mandrake Charlene Winter, Father Killer. And they shall fear me greatly, but they already do.

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