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I hear your name.

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Elsa never paid much attention to her own name being spoken. In fact, she put effort into being immune to it. After years of hearing Anna at her door pleading—“Elsa, Elsa, Elsa”—it struck her ear with no more relevance than the sound of footsteps. Or less, considering how few people walked the floor of her castle home.

Anna’s name, now. That remained relevant.

It came up only very rarely. Anna never spoke it herself, when visiting Elsa (or at least attempting to visit her). She had little to say about herself, generally—there was no news in this old place. Sometimes a servant visiting Elsa’s room would speak Anna’s name, though, soft and persuasive. “Anna wishes you would come out.” “Anna’s gotten sick—will you pay her a visit? It might cheer her up.” “Today is Anna’s birthday.” “Anna told me to leave this for you.”

There were answers that Elsa formulated to these things, though she rarely spoke them:

“I can’t come out, I’m sorry.”

“I would only make her sickness worse. I would only make her sadder.”

“I did send her a present. Or at least, I sent you to buy her a present.”

“She shouldn’t have bothered.”

 They were never spoken, so they constantly changed. Elsa would lie awake thinking of Anna, and how she would speak to her sister if they saw each other, what she would do. They did see each other occasionally, when Elsa chanced to leave her room for one reason or another. But while Anna had so much to say with a door between them, when they came face to face, she rarely spoke.

Elsa would say it, sometimes: “Good morning, Anna.”

Anna would wave shyly in return. And then Elsa would hurry off. She didn’t want to end up in a two-way conversation. She and Anna could never be close, and Anna would have to figure that out sooner or later.

Still, Anna’s name would always be enough to get her attention. And it would always prey on her mind.

So it was that, when she had built herself a castle of ice, when she had left all worldly things behind, it danced back to her on the wind—not her name called out to her, but an echoing reminder: Anna, Anna, Anna.

Elsa shut the doors on it, yet it seeped through. One word she could not escape.