The Naming of Heather Bothwell

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

You stare at the dress laid out on your bed. The one mom wanted you to wear. And although she’s been gone for years, your eyes gloss over with tears. Why she couldn’t be here. With you. To guide you, hold your hand before the Reader comes. Because right now, you’re flooded with nerves and there’s nothing more you want than a hug from mom.

“Heather?” comes a voice from the hall. The sweet face of your sister pops around the door. “It’s almost time.”

You try blinking away the tears now staining your face; but it’s too late. Your sister’s hands are already wrapping around your waist. Her head buried in your stomach. She may be younger, but she’s comforted me far more than I have her. 

Finally, you pull her away and flash her a smile. “I’ll be ready in a minute. See you down there.” Her eyes linger for a few moments before she nods and leaves. Dress on; hair brushed; face dry; you straighten your shoulders, take a deep breath, and make your way towards the living room. For hours, the noises of your family gathering in the small space have filled the house. But the moment they see you, the chatter dies. Their faces brighten and their eyes too seem sparkled with sadness. And pride.

In the corner, you see her. The Reader. She makes no notion of your emotions; your past; and instead, approaches you with a stoic face, stormy eyes. Her hunched frame circles you, seated in a chair. You watch her, all tears gone from your eyes now. In a few moments, your future will be set. Responsibility will be yours. And your sister’s upbringing will fall to you. Mom is gone. And so is dad. Your aunts and uncles have watched you; until this day. Which will determine everything. Which will force you to grow up far faster than you ever imagined.

The Reader suddenly stops; reaches into a small pouch around her waist, and produces a quill and piece 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; smile at your sister.

Then speak.

“Heather Bothwell. Kind-hearted.”

“Heather Bothwell. Kind-hearted.


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