Writing Prompt:  An old storyteller.

“I think I’ve been cursed.”  As soon as the word ‘cursed’ reached his own ears, Hil was overcome with the embarrassing corniness of the notion.  He didn’t believe in that sort of stuff, and he didn’t expect anyone else to either, even this ancient skin-and-bones woman with her watery hag eyes.  “Well, something like that.  I guess.”

She tilted her her a fraction of a inch to one side.  “What is your name, boy?  The one your mother gave you will do.”  Her voice was strong.  Hil expected it to be the product of too much coffee and cigarettes, but instead it seemed to melt like fine chocolate.  This voice could sing, if it wanted to.  Jazz, blues, opera, a capella gospel, and then proceed to out-Whitney any R&B vocalist out there.

“Hildur,” said Hil.  How long had it been since he said it out loud?  He hadn’t even gone by it at his mother’s funeral.

Silence slipped through the dusty room, and all the while the hag’s gaze didn’t waver.  “Good name.  Strong name.  You’d do well to use it.  You’d avoid more of the problems you have if you did.”

“What do you mean?”

She shrugged, a motion that brought the rattling of leaves in autumn to mind.  “Our names are the seeds of our stories.  Hildur is honest, strong, though he will have to fight many battles in his life.  Is that you?”

“Not even half, mum.”

“See that is where your the mainstay of your problem lies.  Hil.  That’s what you go by, isn’t it?  Shortened.  Dishonest because a man of your position shouldn’t have such a name as Hildur.  And you’re full of pride to think you can divorce it from you.  Less pride, Hildur, and more honesty.  You are cursed, and that’s what will break you free of it.”

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