A Wounded Name (Fiction - Young Adult)

BOOK: A Wounded Name (Fiction - Young Adult)
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

There’s a girl who could throw herself headfirst into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.


Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at elsinore academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. even when she takes her pills, the
bean sidhe
beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the headmaster’s sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. especially once she starts seeing the headmaster’s ghosts—two of them—on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the headmaster’s grieving son. he too understands the power of a promise to a parent—even a dead one. to him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. and to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals toward his tragic fate—dragging Ophelia, and the rest of elsinore, with him.


Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make—and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot hutchison’s dark and sensuous debut novel, the name “Ophelia” is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as “Hamlet.”





To my family—

Those of blood and those of choice

Text copyright © 2013 by Dot Hutchison

Carolrhoda Lab
is a trademark of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

All rights reserved. International copyright secured. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., except for the inclusion of brief quotations in an acknowledged review.

Carolrhoda Lab

An imprint of Carolrhoda Books

A division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

241 First Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN 55401 U.S.A.

Website address:

The images in this book are used with the permission of:
Bayram (paper background).
Front cover: © Brooke Shaden.

Main body text set in Janson Text LT Std 10/14.

Typeface provided by Linotype AG.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hutchison, Dot.

A wounded name / by Dot Hutchison.

pages    cm

Summary: A reimagining of the world and story of Hamlet—from
Ophelia’s perspective and set in an American boarding school.

ISBN 978–1–4677–0887–6 (trade hard cover : alk. paper)

ISBN 978–1–4677–1618–5 (eBook)

[1. Revenge—Fiction. 2. Ghosts—Fiction. 3. Emotional problems—Fiction. 4. Boarding schools—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.H96448Wo 2013



Manufactured in the United States of America

1 – SB – 7/15/13

eISBN: 978-1-4677-1618-5 (pdf)

eISBN: 978-1-4677-3379-3 (ePub)

eISBN: 978-1-4677-3380-9 (mobi)

To this very day, travelers can hear the bells of the churches of Ys sounding the hours, deep in the shadowed bay.

—Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi,
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

Away, come away.
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are a-gleam,
Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.

—W. B. Yeats

And let me speak to th’ yet-unknowing world how these things came about. So shall you hear of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, of accidental judgments, casual slaughters, of deaths put on by cunning and for no cause, and, in this upshot, purposes mistook fallen on th’ inventors’ heads.

, act V, scene 2, lines 355–361



The sky is blue today.

Blue like glacier ice, like hidden springs. Blue like jays’ wings, peacock feathers. Blue like my mother’s skin.

It isn’t right. Today the sky should be black or deep, roiling grey, a vast, mottled purple bruise overhead. The air should weep, the Heavens pound in anguish and loss, for today we bury the King of Elsinore.

But it isn’t. And they don’t.

The sky is blue today, lovely and innocent and callous, too bright to reflect the sorrow of the bean sidhe keening beyond the cemetery fence. They cannot step foot on consecrated ground, yet they wail still for the man who will lie forever in the holy earth’s cold, unfeeling embrace. They rend their clothes and tear their hair, impossibly lovely voices rising and falling in an unearthly madrigal of death and mourning, all the grief the sky can’t be bothered to show.

The Headmaster will be buried today, and the bean sidhe keen.

I watch and listen for as long as possible, framed by the window that looks down the hill to the chapel and the graveyard beyond. There is madness in their grief to those with the ears to hear it, and to listen too long invites a resonance. They are sorrow, but through the woods behind them rides rage, in the lake whispers seduction. All around the church and its yard, beyond the reach of its unthinking blessings, the madness holds sway.

The song wraps around me, incomprehensible syllables a balm to the grief within me, but there is pain there too, an agony born of guilt that I listen to them at all. That I hear the sorrow that resonates within mine. Father will see the wildness in my eyes, if he sees anything at all, but my brother will see far more than the wildness. In the clever way in which he sees almost everything around him, he will see the way my body sways to the bean sidhe song, the way my head cocks to listen to the feral cries of the Hunt as it rides. And in the way he always does, he will tell Father, who will look at me with such disappointment.

And such fear.

He trembles to give it voice, as though voicing it will make it real, but always the truth is there in his eyes: I am too much my mother’s daughter.

The pain is fleeting, consumed by the wanting. I cannot abide the thought of standing beside that hole in the ground, not when the death songs are so lovely. It would be easy to cross to them instead of the unassuming grey stone church, to weave and dance beyond the reach of the wrought iron fence and add my voice to theirs. So easy.

Only then do I turn from the window, reach for the box of pills beside the bed. Every Saturday, Father splits the pills into different days so I can’t forget the little round blue, the oblong yellow, the tiny white and the horse-pill white, and all but seven days each month the pink oval like a Tic Tac. Every day the pills, every week the accounting with Father to reassure him I’ve taken them all. I pry open Tuesday’s box and choke them down dry. Nausea races up from my empty stomach, and too late, I remember the warning label on the orange bottles locked in Father’s study:
take with food
. I can choke down the pills, but I couldn’t deal with the toast or the eggs, only the coffee, heavily sugared and creamed, that nonetheless burned a trail to my stomach.

I empty the pills from Sunday and Monday and slip them into the plastic baggie hidden between my mattresses. There are too many pills there, too many days I forget or else just can’t make myself turn away all the sights and sounds of that other world that weaves so closely through ours, but I can’t let Father see the forgets. He’d send me to the cold place again, like he did after Mama died, and though he’d miss me while I was gone, he wouldn’t bring me home until he thought I was stable again.

The nausea rises, more forceful this time, harder to swallow back. I clench my teeth on the need to gag. If my body rejects the pills now, I’ll have to wait to take a new dose with food after the funeral, and my father and brother will know. Even now, after three missed days, the dose won’t do enough to chase away the wildness before I must see them.

On my vanity, a small basket of violets sits waiting for me. Every morning, Jack leaves a small basket of flowers just outside my door, as he’s done for years, as he did for my mother. From the first bloom of early spring to the last bloom of late summer, there are violets. Sometimes other flowers as well but always violets, soft petals ranging from their namesake color through shades of indigo, blue, and heavy cream.

The Headmaster loves violets.

Loved violets.

He laughed and laughed when I told him of their elusive scent, how smelling them actually makes it impossible to smell anything for a little while, and he knotted a flower into my hair and told me the most beautiful things will always be the most elusive. I was nine years old, my first day back after the cold place, and he’d come to welcome me home with flowers that Jack gave him.

Sitting carefully in the delicate white chair, I knot the violets into my hair, a flower crown that pulls my night-dark hair back from a too-pale face. A handful remains when the crown is complete, but I knot those in as well, soft jewels of color through the length of my hair.

The door opens without a knock, and I know without looking that it’s my brother. He never knocks. Father will at least give a cursory tap in case I’m changing clothes, but the pause between sound and entrance is never more than a fraction of a second. I am too much my mother’s daughter to be afforded real privacy. Sometimes I think my brother, who grew up on Mama’s stories just as I did, understands better than Father what that means.

“Ophelia, it’s time to go down.”

“I know.” I knot the second-to-last violet several inches from the ends of my hair, not wanting to sit on it when we get to the chapel. I stand and smooth the black dress. The fabric is lightweight for summer, but the color smothers me. Sometimes I wonder if they really did revive me all those years ago or if I’m just a ghost, a trick of shadows and light that both Father and Laertes think they see.

His eyes are on the violets, a vertical line between his eyebrows as he studies their arrangement. “Father won’t like this.”

“I’m not doing it for Father.”

We will never be seen as anything but siblings, Laertes and I; we both look like Mama. The same moonlight skin, the same purple-black hair. His eyes are more blue than mine, deep blue like the water at night, but mine are our mother’s exactly, a bruise-colored indigo the same shade as the shadows beneath them. He at least inherited her height, the graceful build that helps him dance so smoothly in the boxing ring. Father must have chosen Laertes’ suit this morning; even the shirt is black, the edges of jacket, tie, and shirt all indistinct as they layer against each other.

“He still won’t approve,” he says eventually. “You might as well take them out now and save us all the hassle.”

“I’m not doing it for Father.” There’s one violet left in the woven basket, bruise-colored with a heart of cream. I pick it up and cradle it in my hand, lift it so I can breathe in deep. The scent is gone before I can even identify it, but if I’m patient, in a few minutes when my nerves recover, I’ll be able to breathe it in and know it for what it is: the elusive scent of a violet. “And I’m not taking them out. The Headmaster loved violets.”

“Ophelia …” Before I can lower my hands, he’s crossed the room and yanked at my chin, forcing my face up so he can see my eyes. He sighs. He’ll ask the question because he sometimes believes in being fair, but it doesn’t matter what I say; he’s already decided he knows the answer. “Goddamn it. This—of all mornings—why couldn’t you just take your pills?”

And even though it doesn’t matter, I tell him the truth anyway, because that is the dance we repeat so often. “I did take them.”

“You can’t lie when you have that look in your eye. You didn’t take them, and we both know it. You’re practically dancing to that damn banshee song you hear.”

Bean sidhe
. He used to give the words our mother’s voice, a lilting sound as much music as the laments they sing. But that was before, before he grew into our father’s son, before he was afraid.

“Think of what this will do to Father; you know he doesn’t need more distractions today.”

Father never needs distractions; he exists in a cacophony of them. Distractions from memory, from fear, from the loneliness he doesn’t know how to let us fill. He never needs more of them, but he looks for them anyway because that is what he does in the name of making everything run smoothly. I don’t say any of this. I never do. Laertes and I understand Father in very different ways, I think, and I never can decide who has the more right of it.

My black wrap sits on the foot of the bed, and I push Laertes away to pick it up. Even in high summer, the church is always cold. It clings to the stone, to the silence. I switch the violet to my left hand and drape the wrap over that arm to hide it from view. This final flower will be a gift, the last one I can give to a dear friend now gone. That sort of gift must always be a private thing. “It’s time,” I remind him. “We should go.”

He shakes his head but holds the door open for me. The absence of a scent—a ghost, an echo of violets—follows us into the hall. This is the day Hamlet Danemark V, Headmaster of Elsinore Academy, is laid to rest, and the world mourns.

BOOK: A Wounded Name (Fiction - Young Adult)
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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