A lot is at stake as of right now, mostly my life and witch-hungry fire. It is a hysterical time for women. It is believed that these demonic powers stem from the feminine sex. Doubtful, if I do say so myself. So many have died because of fear. Fear spread by foolish men and women who thought this was a game. And kept alive by cruel school girls in Windsor. Our colony took religion seriously, threatening the beliefs that were set in stone before we arrived. A phobia for witchcraft lingers. It spread from Salem all the way here to Windsor, Connecticut.
People were turning on each other left and right. You couldn’t trust anyone, and sometimes not even our own family. We learned that after Isabelle Cooke was hauled off to the gallows after her husband accused her of making him go bald. She did no such thing, of course. Magic doesn’t exist. John Cooke is just an abusive arse who wanted his wife out of the way to be with his mistress.
Religion makes people do and believe ridiculous things. I’ve never personally bought into any of it, but I had to keep up a good image and pretend. Go to church, where I would sit and think up wild stories in my head. I never shared these stories with anyone, and they would surely get me into trouble.
A substitute led this Sunday’s services. Father Crawley had fallen ill, Judge Crawley, having been our previous priest, filled his post for the time being. The pews were packed tight; even my boney body barely fit comfortably. Everyone in the colony felt compelled to come to pray in these trying times of need. Or save face, like me. Not that I didn’t care. But I am realistic about life, and you can’t have life without death and illness. The Father had not been looking well before this illness. It’s only a matter of time.
The Judge drones on about the looming presence of witches in Salem. “For my brother’s sake, please come forth if ye have suspicions of witchcraft and speak the name of evil before the whole congregation! Let them be brought to justice!”
No one came forward. Not even the group of whispering girls that now sat in complete silence behind me, and I knew what they were thinking. Sitting beside me was my younger sister, Shannon, and my widowed grandmother, Carol Crane. We were the last three spinsters in the town. And they were running out of options.
But they did not come forth at that time. The girls are silent, just like the rest of us.
As we walk out of the church, Grandmother tells me to stick close to her. I hold Shannon’s hand and follow her to our small cottage planted at the edge of Salem. Passing other churchgoers on the path leading out of town, we avoid eye contact. No one smiles anymore or waves. We walk in silence. I felt this made us look more suspicious, but at the same time, I fear what they would see if they did dwell too long.
We hear a commotion erupt on the path ahead, just before the market. Sara Ann Crawley, the Judge’s self-righteous daughter, appears to have cornered the shy girl of our class, Myrtle Miller.
“IT’S HER! I KNOW IT!” Sara Ann shrieks at the top of her lungs. Her two brothers hold her back as she struggles against them to attack and throw dirt at Myrtle, who is cowering and shielding herself from the flying debris. No one else dares to step forward to defend her. “I didn’t do anything,” Myrtle cries as Sara Ann starts to break free from her brother’s restraints.
Without thinking, I run ahead of Gran and Shannon, who calls after me, “No, Indigo! Don’t get involved.” But I pretended to not hear them.
I’d witnessed enough people dying because of prissy bitches like Sara Ann who think this is a game. And Sara has already ruined other lives; I couldn’t let her take another.
Sara Ann had broken free of her restraint. Her brothers had given up and now stood on the sidelines and watched their sister berate this poor girl. Thomas and James never had much backbone. In the end, Sara-Ann always got her way. They figure they should at least try, I guess.
“YOU STUPID COW! GOD, WHAT DID MY FAMILY EVER DO TO YOU? YOUR PARENTS OUGHT TO PUT YOU ON THE STREETS FOR PRACTICING THE DEVILS WORK. IF IT WERE UP TO ME I-“
“You ought to shut your lying trap.”
Everyone’s head turned as I approached the crowd.
“Excuse me, but who invited you to the conversation?” Sara Ann sneered, a shine of hate in her eye that I knew was reserved for me.
“Oh, no one invited me, Sara-Ann, and no one ever does. But I digress. But you heard me, stop this right now. Myrtle has done nothing to you nor your family, and we are all concerned for your uncle. But spreading lies about witchcraft is not helping, and it’s only spreading more fear.”
“This does not involve you!” Sara Ann shrieked like a banshee.
“Not yet, anyway. How long till you point the finger at the rest of us and we are carried off to the gallows? If you keep this up, you will reap what you sow.”
“And what do you mean by that?” Sara Ann said, getting close, puffing herself up.
“It means I hope you eventually develop tastebuds in your anal canal so you can taste your own shit, Sara Ann. Or do I need to be more clear?”
At that moment, Sara Ann at once began to lose her strict composure and turned green and turned and ran to vomit in the gutter nearby. Only it was not bile that fell from her mouth. It was shit. Actual shit.
“Oh, crap.” And then I ran for it. I ran past the townspeople, who were still struggling to comprehend what they saw. Gran and Shannon were just as awestruck and watched as I ran by. I didn’t look back. I couldn’t bear the look on Gran’s face, and I didn’t want to see Shannon’s tears.
I just run. I run as far as my pointed shoes can carry me across the meadow, hoping they miss my wicked trail.