Walking through the dark gloomy cold woods alone wasn't the smartest decision especially when the village leader is making an effort to look out for suspicious behaviour. In a week my best friend, Emilia will be turning 16. Although we are no longer allowed to celebrate any holidays including birthdays, because of the new rules that govern our village commanded from our petrifying village leader. I still wanted to go out of my way to give her a present, something to make her day special and put a smile on her face.
You might be wondering why I'm in the forest alone, we'll I'm looking for plants to make a dye for Emilia's birthday painting. So far I have mulberries, saffron petals, and bloodroot filled to the brim in my basket. My mother taught me how to collect and extract dye from various plants at a young age. I considered it one of my many useful talents. Suddenly I hear a twig snap, whipping my head around with so much force I can hear my neck crack from the impact, I see a sheep with one black ear enter the meadow.
"You scared me half to death little guy, what are you doing out here all alone," I say not expecting an actual reply.
"Come on let's bring you back home," I say earning a baa in return as I guide him in the direction of the village. The friendly minded sheep reminded me of one my parents farm held long ago. I used to sneak out late at night to feed him and pet his soft silky smooth wool in a comforting manner every night. I even named him Minyas. That was until my family had to sell the farm to our village leader, because we were no longer gaining enough money to support ourselves, so instead of becoming bankrupt my parents gave up their life as farmers with heavy hearts.
Our village is fairly small, with a population of two hundred. The village layout is simple, town square in the middle with markets, a church and a school on the north side along with all the houses, and farming fields on the south side.
Dropping the sheep off with one last pat on the head at the Michael's family farm I receive a nod from Mr. Michael, before I walk back towards the village.
Entering the square, I see the dead body hanging by a rope on a wooden pole. I guess I should explain what happened.
In early February of 1692, four girls I used to attend school with: Betty Parris, Lillian Chester, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Ann Putnam began to have indescribable fits claiming to be possessed by the devil, they blamed three women, Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba of using "witchcraft" on them. The women were accused, arrested, and later killed. Now anyone who is suspected of practicing witchcraft will be executed, no questions asked. This is all according to the new laws a village leader has placed on us.
What the villagers don't know is that witches are real, not the evil kind, but the good kind that use their gifts to heal. You might ask how I know this, it's simple really, my best friend is a witch.
When I reach my family's hut, I know I'm in trouble when I see my mother waiting by the front door tapping her foot in a rhythmic pattern.
"Abigail," my mother says in an irritated voice. "You shouldn't be wandering the forest alone," she said quietly so no one could hear.
"I know, I just wanted to collect some dye for Emilia's painting and your dress making," I reply upset that I worried my mother.
"Dear, I appreciate the dye, but your father and I were worried," my mother says her voice cracking.
"I promise I won't leave the village again," I say hugging my mother tightly.
"Good, now let's start to prepare dinner, your father should be home soon," she says dragging me inside.
The next morning I wake up bright at the early crack of dawn and leave in a hurry to meet Emilia at the water well.
"Em!" I squeal running to squeeze her in a big hug.
"Abby," she replied hugging me back.
"I haven't seen you in so long... I missed you," I say.
"I know, mother has been making me do chores inside, so that Mr. William's won't get suspicious. He already thinks our family is strange, we've been making him believe we are still grieving over my father," she says with a sad glassy look in her eyes.
We end the depressing conversation about the tragic events of Mr. Bennett's passing by grabbing our buckets and starting to collecting fresh water from the stone well.
"I had another dream last night," she tells me, while pulling the rope out.
"As you already know, everyone who has been executed has appeared in my dreams and last night I saw..." she says not being able to finish her sentence before she tears up and starts to make little gasping noises, like she is trying to hold in her waterworks.
"You saw..." I encourage her.
"Abigail I saw you die," she whispers.
"We shouldn't be talking about this, anyone could hear," I say dismissing her last words. Instead I grab my hefty buckets before walking back toward our huts, my face revealing nothing of how I truly feel.
"How can you be so calm Abby...? I saw you die, that scares me," she says trying to keep up with me.
"Em it's just a dream," I remind her.
As we enter the town square the piercing stares the other villages feel like fire burns crawling onto my back. I guess you can say I'm used to the stares Emilia and I get when we are together. I believe it's because we stand out so much more than the others, me with my pale white skin, emerald green eyes, and bright crimson red hair and Emilia with her dark tanned skin, big brown eyes, and shiny dark brown hair. We are the entire opposite from one and another.
While walking I witness Mr. William and his son Peter chatting quietly to each other, probably talking about the women who hang just a couple steps from the entrance to our village like a sign. I haven't been completely honest with Emilia which completely breaks my heart. Peter and I, the son of the village leader and head of the witch trials, have been courting since before the witch trials began. We would leave after curfew to meet at the meadows and watch the sunrise together with our hands intertwined before we left to go home undetected. We even used to send cliche love letters, some I even memorized. My favorite one being:
My dearest Abigail,
I am constantly thinking about you. Day in and day out you are always on my mind. Wherever I am I feel as though I can smell your flowery scent surrounding me,making me feel stronger than ever. Thinking of you makes me remember a verse from my most cherished poem:
"Bid me to live, and I will live,
Sadly, though it be:
But bid me love, and I will give,
A loving heart to Thee.
A heart as soft, a heart as kind,
A heart as sound and free,
As in the whole world thou canst find,
That heart I give to Thee.
Bid that heart stay, and it will stay,
To honor Thy decree:
or bid it languish quite away,
And that it'd do for Thee.
Bid me to weep, and I will weep,
While I have eyes to see:
And having none, yet I will keep
A heart to weep for Thee.
Bid me despair, and I'll despair,
Under that Cypress tree:
Or bid me die, and I will dare
E'en Death, to die for Thee.
Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
The very eyes of me:
And hast command of every part,
To live and die for Thee."
One day Abigail I promise to ask for your hand in marriage and that is when our happy ever after truly begins. I'll love you always and forever.
Your handsome lover,
I've tried to tell Emilia many times but the words "hey I'm courting a witch hunter" have never been able to come out, I know she will feel betrayed, because to some extent I do as well.
I haven't told Peter about Emilia either, he would most likely tell his father and then Emilia and her family would be killed for my wrong judgement. I can't trust him with this secret, it's not mine to tell.
It's an hour before sunset when we hear the church bells chime four times signaling for a town hall meeting. Once everyone is there Mr. William begins by shouting over the crowd.
"WE HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE THAT WITCHES HAVE PASSED MAGIC ONTO ONE OF OUR ANIMALS!" he yells.
" 'S HAS BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION A SHEEP WITH ONE BLACK EAR," Mr. William says. "THIS IS NOT CONSIDERED A NORMAL OCCURRENCE." I know what sheep they're talking about, the one I found in the woods.
"BRING THAT SHAMEFUL THING OUT, PETER!" he commands. I can see Peter struggling with the sheep. That poor sheep which knows its horrible fate.
"IN THE NAME OF THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY THE DEVIL BE GONE!" Mr. William says before raising his knife and beheading the sheep. I gasp in disgust and horror.
With giant splats of crimson blood dripping down his face Mr. William says a sentence that stops my heart. " HAS ALSO INFORMED ME THAT ABIGAIL FORBES LAST HAD CONTACT WITH THIS SHEEP!"
This has to be a sick joke, I think.
He suspects me as the witch who contaminated the sheep.
"ROBERT AND PETER BRING HER UP!" he commands.
I can hear my mother weeping and my father consoling her somewhere behind me, when Robert and Peter forcefully start to drag me to the stage, my feet stumbling behind me. Emilia too starts to cry. My brain is still in shock about the event that is about to occur and the fact that Peter is on his father's side. My one true love abandoned me leaving me for the devil that is his father.
"ABIGAIL FORBES YOU HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY?!" Mr. William says
Nothing I say will change the fact that today I will die. I gaze at the audience in front of me and I know what I need to say. Hopefuly it will inspire them to stand up for themselves and stop sitting around while their families and friends be hung by a cold blooded killer.
I turn to Mr. William with a great deal of courage I never knew existed and began "When is this going to stop? How many more people will have to die before this is over…" I turn to the people now, "how can all of you stand there and do NOTHING, we have to fight for what is righ!. We let countless people die for something foolish. We are weak and pathetic." Turning back to Mr. William, "kill me if you want, but know that you are a murderer and one day all the killing and death caused by your self righteousness will catch up to you," I say.
I can see anger flaring in Mr. Williams's eyes like a burning flame and I don't regret it.
The rope is tied around my neck with a large amount of strength, then I'm lifted off the ground like I'm a flying rag doll, only my neck feels constricted and I can't breathe. I attempted to take in a breath only to hear myself make a weird mix of a gasping and huffing noise. That is the moment I realise I will die from oxygen deprivation if I don't do anything to stop it. I attempt with all the life force left in me to squirm the noose off just to fail in my pursuit. My eyesight start to turn white mingled with a couple black spots, like when you wake up from a deep sleep. In the tunnel of white I see an oddly shaped hand coming towards me. I strain my sight to see who it is and come across Mr. Bennett, Emilia's father.
"You're safe my child… Come with us," he whispers. Shadows begin to appear behind Mr. Bennett forming a line, letting me know we are not alone.
"We welcome you Abigail," he says while connecting our hands.
I feel no pain as I allow the bright light to engulf me. Somehow this feels better then the world we live in. No more pain or suffering, just peace.