“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
She can only recall one voice, so distinct and angry in the back of her head, calling her Elizabeth; her father’s. It’s as if he has stained her name with his unexplained resentment and shameless acrimony, condemning her with a name that no longer felt fit, a name that punches disgust in the pits of her stomach and laces affliction within each and every hidden bruise that no longer traces her carapace but wanders through her memories in the silence of the night.
Her mother used to call her Ellie, so did Katherine. And whenever she introduced herself to people, she was always introduced as ‘Ellie’ —just to make sure that no one else ever uttered that Godforsaken name as well.
Regardless, even her name sounded mellifluous rolling off Nicholas’ tongue. She wondered if that was yet another trick of his accent’s; Elizabeth, Liz, Beth, Ellie—they all had the same effect on her when proclaimed by his voice. However, he did claim that none of them sounded fitting, none of them were enough to capture that aspect that he seemed so mesmerized by. Granted, she declared him a man of madness and faultless charm, but her heart still fluttered at thought of him seeing her as someone else, someone better, someone enough; such an unusual ideology, yet comparable to serenity it was ecstasy.
Oh, and how did she want to share that with the whole world, to rub it in her father’s face. But she couldn’t. To live they had to live in secrecy. Unless you don’t count her telling Katherine as secrecy.
How could such an enchanting feeling be prohibited in her father’s eyes? Or maybe she was too hypnotized to realize that atrociousness was disguised in the form of elegant grace and not the other way around, but that was highly doubtful. To judge someone by the language they spoke was beyond her; so what if he spoke English and she spoke Bulgarian? In the end, the meaning behind ‘I love you’ still remains just as strong in either languages.
In fact, Elizabeth was so very enthralled by his language that she was very keenon learning new words everyday. They shared phrases as simple as ‘Hello, my name is Ellie’ and 'Kiss me’, and as complex as literature can be. She was also a little jealous that he could fluently talk in her language and she couldn’t; like he was a part of her world and she was yet to find the key to his.
One day, she came across a word that she couldn’t quite comprehend; efflorescence. With a little sparkle of meddling eagerness taunting at the back of her head, she made a mental note to ask Nicholas about it. And so, she waited until time welcomed her with greeting arms to their refuging hour and tranquilizing escape, his smile proving once again that not even flowers held a chance rivaling against him for luminous allurement.
"It means flowering, to blossom.” He said, fingertips whisking a certain rose away and lacing it with her hair. “It kind of reminds me of you. You know, because I’ve seen you bloom. You were this little girl who lost her way back home but was never really bothered by it, once upon a time, and now you’re—you; exquisiteness personified. You’re Efflorescent Ellie. Efflorescent Ellie. —…It suits you more than any name has ever tried to.”
That day, she skipped back home with a face so red it growled against Spring’s breeze and heartbeats so fast that seconds left breathlessly with aching feet. Oh, how wonderful it was to touch such a thrilling feeling so purely. And oh, how ironic it was to know the difference between the redness of a slap against her cheek, the crimson droplets left scattered against her carapace and the anger burning through her father’s face opposing to the scarlet kiss flaming her cheeks and the rush of her heart promoted by love and not fear. Or was it fear?
But there was no time for doubting questions, she needed to find her sister and tell her all about her little escapade, tell her all about her secret name.
Then came Saturday Morning with sleep-dusted Katherine looking for her big sister as she wandered from her room to another—completely oblivious of her parents’ presence—almost calling her 'efflorescent ellie'. Then, her eyes fell upon her father’s questioning stare as soon as ‘eff’ rolled off her tongue, waiting for her to finish. In that very moment, realization struck her with the consequences of her ever finishing that word; father dearest kneeling beside her asking her what it meant and who she heard it from. And so, even though she started off with ‘eff’, she tried to recover with saying ‘ellie’, resulting the whole thing to come out as ‘effy’.
And ever since then. that’s what Elizabeth responded to.