By Hadiya Brown
There was once a little girl who had no name. Her parents, a little old man and a little old woman, discovered the child one day while they were out gathering small twigs and dry leaves for their fire.
The little old woman, who liked to keep her ear to the wind, was certain she heard a faint cry traveling along with the crisp autumn breeze. The little old man, who liked to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground, thought it sounded more like pieces of the sweetest lullaby.
Curious, the little old man steadied himself against his tall walking stick, and he and the little old woman searched for what they did not know, until finally, just before the setting sun painted its last strokes of pale pink and indigo across the clear sky, they found it. A beautiful baby girl, swaddled in a thin blanket, nestled deep within a bush.
The little old man grinned, wide and nearly toothless, at the sight of the child’s head full of dark curly hair. The little old woman laughed out loud, her dark eyes misty at the sight of the child’s perfect rosy pout.
“What shall we name her?” the little old man asked the little old woman. Still beaming, the little old woman thought for a moment and answered, “I do not know. What name could possibly be as beautiful as she? We should not worry ourselves too much about it. When it is right, it will come.”
The little old man agreed, and they started along the path toward home.
With each new day, the little girl who had no name felt happy, safe, and loved. Her mother and father cherished every moment they had with the little girl. But just as she grew as big as the vegetables in her mother’s garden, and as strong as her father’s ox, so did her desire to find a name. It kept her awake most nights and stole away her dreams. So on the eve of her seventh birthday, the little girl who had no name decided that she would go and find one.
Her mother and father were saddened by the news of her leaving, but they wished the child well along her journey. They filled a small satchel with more food than she could ever eat and told her to choose any three things from their home that might help her while she was away. Like her mother, the little girl thought for a moment before choosing her mother’s shawl, her father’s walking stick, and the small wooden music box she received from a birthday passed.
Her parents happily obliged, smothered their daughter with hugs and kisses, and offered her their advice.
From her mother “Always say please and thank you”, and from her father “Know when to let something go.” The little girl smiled, her bright eyes clouded over with tears, and she promised to return home soon.
It wasn’t long before she came upon a large serpent slithering along the path. He seemed to be looking for something too.
“Hello, Sly Snake”, the little girl called. “Can I be of any help at all?”
Now Sly Snake didn’t run into too many little girls on this path, much less ones that didn’t want to stomp him with their feet or scream and run. So he was instantly suspicious.
“What’s it to you?” he hissed. “Do I look like I need your help?”
“Maybe not,” the little girl answered, “but maybe you can help me.” And she began to tell Sly Snake about her search for a name. That gave Sly Snake an idea.
“I’ll tell you where you can find the perfect name for you, but you have to give me something first.”
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