The Naming of Denise Hunter

(This is thanks to Denise for leaving her name in the comments section!)

The second your eyes open, nerves flood your body. Today, you’re thirteen. Today, the Reader will come. Today, everything could change.

They told you it wouldn’t; that your Naming, unlike the Royals’, has less impact on your lifestyle. But they still stare at you with expectant looks in their eyes. Hope rests on their faces and you can’t help but feel burdened. “I must get a good Naming,” you repeat to yourself. Over and over and over again. Like you have been. For years.

You crawl out of bed; brush your teeth; try and distract yourself from the anxiety ballooning up inside your chest. Reading fails you; eating displeases you; even your little brother can’t shift your attention from your afternoon Naming. Did everyone experience such churning nausea? Mom said something about hers being nerve-wracking. This comforts you, but not much.

Hours finally slip by and the moment is here. Your mom greats the Reader at the door. Little is said as the hunched woman glides inside. Her hair perches on her head like a nest; swirls of grey and brown strands teased together. She hands your sister her coat, then proceeds into the living area. Though your family sits around the room, she makes no eye contact; makes no conversation. She stands beside the chair you will sit in. And then you realize, her eyes are searching for you. You pull back into the hallway until you feel a nudge on your back.

“Go on,” says mom. “She’s ready for you.”

Deep breath. One foot in front of the other. Until you’re seated. Eyes locked on you. The Reader’s eyes surveying you like a statue. Up and down; circling where you sit. Finally, minutes later, she pulls from her pouch a quill and slip of parchment. For a few breathless seconds, she lets the quill tip swim across the paper, ink forming letters you can’t yet see. But know. Know it’s producing a word that will define your everything.

Seconds feel like minutes. Which feel like hours. Finally, she pockets the quill and holds out the slip of paper. No one yet, not even the Reader can see what your Naming has revealed. Until you take the parchment in your hands. You wet your lips; swallow deep; glance at your family around the room.

Then speak.

“Denise Hunter. Devoted.”

glance at your family around the room.

Then speak.

“Denise Hunter. Devoted.”

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