A Sunday Afternoon Story – Witchcraft


She was a mortal once.  No power to her fingertips, no incantations in the night, no remembering distant lives and half-practised spells. She loved with an innocent heart, with a passionate one.  Love that should have been returned. Love that should have been hers but people came between them.  People hounded her, calling her a witch when she was not.

They placed her on a ducking stool, determined to drive the evil from her body, to drive the devil from their midst.  She swallowed water, she choked gasping for air. Her lung burnt and strained in her chest and with each plunge into the icy water her heart hardened.

They lifted her up and her eyes sought out the one of her heart.  He glanced away, turning his face away from her and her heart died.

Her love watched as she was once again ducked down in the dirty icy water of the pond. He made no sound as she was half-drowned and called names, cursed. She felt things hitting her fragile shivering body as they hurled stones at her. And she prayer for death.  She opened her mouth and allowed it to fill with water.

Dark violet clouds began to gather overheard, swirling through a heavy sky and the first heavy drops of rain splashed down amongst the crowd.   When lightening exploded through the sky the crowd finally noticed the storm that had grown out of nothing and fear replaced hostility.

She was lifted out of the water and swung to the side of the pond. The bonds that tied her to the chair had loosened, not that she cared. She was ready to die, ready to confess she was a witch, anything to end the torment of her once-innocent heart.

“Do you declare to God and all who are here that you be a witch?”

She heard the question and opened her mouth to speak when a loud deafening crash of thunder rent the air.

“I declare that…” her voice was barely above a whisper and she stopped talking as more lightening and thunder crashed together as though nature itself were preventing her from talking.

Lifting her head she looked up and sought out her former lover. He was clutching the arm of another woman and leading her away from the pond.  Already he had given his fickle heart to another.  He had forsaken her.

She screamed silently at first and then louder as her voice recovered.  A scream that rent the air. A scream of pain, of loss.  The scream of a woman scorned.

Pulling her hands free of the bonds she pushed them away from her legs before she stood and walked away.  Men of the parish moved forward to stop her but paused as they saw the expression on her face. They pulled back crossing themselves in fear as they looked into her eyes.

“I was not a witch,” her voice was clear as she walked away, “but I fear I am now,” she finished.

She turned and looked at the magistrate before pointing to him.  No words were uttered but he recoiled in fear and drew back clutching at his chest.

Lowering her hand she walked away from the scene unfurling behind her.  Lightening flashed down causing buildings to catch on fire and burn despite the rain. The village would be destroyed, what didn’t burn would be flooded. People would die though not at her hand, not yet anyway.

The witch was born.

 

 

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