My name is Quin. Just Quin. At least, it would be if I’d had any say in the matter. Unfortunately, I hadn’t, and neither had my mother the Queen. The princesses of my country are always named Rose in honor of the original Briar Rose who pricked her finger on a spinning wheel. My mother, as luck or fate would have it, gave birth to six princesses named Rose.
My oldest sister was named Briar Rose, as is traditional for the Queen’s heir. Then came Rose Amaryllis, Rose Zinnia, Rose Camellia…and me. I think my mother must have been feeling mutinous by the time I came along. Having been cheated out of four first names thus far, I suppose, my mother gave them all to me. My name is Rose Quince Anna Catharina Maria Proserpine, Princess of the Flower Realm.
My little sister, Rose Dahlia, was born when I was four. By then I was old enough to wonder why my older sisters were simply called Rosie, Mary, Zinnia, and Cam when everyone called me by all six of my names. Try, for a moment, to imagine people calling you by six names every time they want to talk to you. Does it make you feel special? Important? No, it does not. It makes you feel as if everyone is annoyed with you.
I was therefore enraged when my newly arrived baby sister’s name, already a third the size of mine, was immediately shortened to Dolly. Court legend has it that upon hearing the fairy godmother croon, “Little Dolly,” I let out a prodigious bellow (impressive in its force and resonance, it was noted, for I was a small and skinny child) and kicked over the christening cup.
“Rose Quince Anna Catharina Maria Prosperine,” my mother gasped.
In reply, I threw down my wreath of quince blossoms and squatted like a toad in the puddled oil. Shaking with rage, I pushed my hands into the carpet and smeared oil all over myself, ruining the dress my sisters had worked so hard on. Rosie and Mary each made a grab for me, but I dodged Rosie and slipped right out of Mary’s grasp like a greased piglet.
“Mother, do something,” Zinnia wailed, and Cam laughed so hard she nearly split the seams of her dress.
Ignoring my mother’s snarled order to get down from there, I climbed onto the altar. I turned and announced with (for once) perfect enunciation that I did not like my name at all and that I would henceforth be called Quin and only Quin. If anyone dared utter “Rosequinceannacatharinamariaproserpine” ever again, I proclaimed, the offender would be spanked and sent immediately to bed–with no supper.
My teachers were almost proud of my little speech, but my mother was less impressed. I myself was spanked and sent to bed without supper, and half drowned in the bathtub to boot. My nurse was in hysterics over my performance and not attending to job at hand. Though she now insists it was only shampoo, I remain convinced that I saw her foam at the mouth.
It was the most trouble I’ve ever been in. After Nurse, a whole parade of people came to lecture me while I sat sullenly in the tub, shivering and clad only in bubbles. My mother, Rosie, the priest, the high chancellor…the speeches were endless. But throughout the whole of each person’s tirade, I was called Quin. After one last scolding from Nurse and a second spanking, I fell asleep warmed both by the heat of my smarting bottom and the glow of victory.