The Plague-Ch. 1

November 24, 2011
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The Plague
1.

There are many who say the plague was just a pestilence that finally broke, like the passing of a fever. They do not know of the darkness that almost was. The sacrifices made. The heroes lost. I will tell their story. I was there. I know.

I was born in the year of the witch trials. Everyday someone of the female gender would be burned, hanged or drowned in the fear of them being a witch. I still remember my first viewing of a trial. I don't know why they call it that. A trial. The women are asked to confess their sin against God and to repent. It doesn't matter whether they do or not they still die.

I was seven. Too young to know what’s going on yet not young enough to believe that it was nothing. I stood behind the comfort of my mother's skirts. My large brown eyes filled with a mix of emotions. Terror, excitement, curiosity. Fear. I was a quiet child and I never asked questions. When mother woke me up from my afternoon nap, I did not ask questions. When she pinned my long dark curls up and put on my best Sunday dress, still I did not ask questions.

At the sight of the three women standing huddled by the bridge, my mind immediately registered what was going on. At first I was ecstatic. My first viewing of a drowning! Once I glanced at the women's faces however, my earlier emotions of excitement and wonder shifted into sympathy and fear. I barely listened as the Priest rambled on about the sin that had plagued their hearts.

The first girl was merely twelve. I remembered her bright smile when it was my first day of studies. I remembered how when I gazed longingly at her perfect blonde bun she simply pulled my hair into one. I looked at her now. That bright smile was gone. Wisps of her blonde hair had fallen onto her tear streaked, grimy face. As she stood sobbing by the bridge's edge, I wondered what she could've done to deserve this fate. She didn't seem like a witch to me. When her once light blue eyes that were now gray with anguish found mine, I instantly felt guilty. I attempted to give her a smile but she only averted her eyes to another thing in the distance.

I looked around for her family. I wondered why her family didn't cry or mourn. I wondered why they weren't there at all. Were they ashamed of her? Or did they know that it would just hurt too much?
As a man that had been standing by the priest began to fill her pockets with stone, the priest himself asked, "Do you confess your sins, my child?" I heard no emotion in his voice. She began to weep fully now. In between racking sobs she uttered one word.

"Please."

With a nod from the Priest, the man shoved her off the bridge. Her screams echo in my ears even to today. Even at my young age, I instantly knew this was wrong. A small splash came and they turned to the second girl.

She looked older, maybe in her late twenties. Her beautiful mahogany hair had already begun to gray. She didn't cry like the first girl, didn't beg for mercy or even shed a tear. When the priest asked for her confession she looked him straight in the eye and said, "I will not confess to something I have not done." Off the bridge she went. The only sound that reached my ears this time was the splash.

The third woman was also silent. Because of her head being bowed all I could see was the matted clump of grimy black hair on top of her head. She had a bald spot. I never saw this woman before in my village. I wondered who she was or how she got here. When the Priest began to talk about her sins she raised her head and smiled. I don't know if it was the rotten teeth, lack of teeth or the smile itself that caused the gasps. I do know what caused the shivers to crawl up my spine. It was her eyes. One was blue and one was brown. The brown one was so dark it looked black. The blue one so blue it looked white.

I buried my face in my Mother's skirts. The eyes still formed even after I had closed my own. When the Priest asked for her confession, she seemed to growl out her reply.

"You will burn Priest."

No gasps, just silence. I hear her begin to laugh. A cackling laugh that sounded like millions of dried leaves was being crunched in her mouth. I waited for a splash, a sign that she was gone along with those eyes but no splash came. You'd think I’d ask Mother if she had heard a splash but no. I was a quiet child. I never asked questions.

That was my first Witch Trial. My mother's was the second.

I was eleven. My years of being quiet had paid off and I knew the world like no one else did. The night when they came for her, I knew why and I knew it was wrong.

Earlier in the week, I had wandered into the forest as usual. They tell us not to because it’s dangerous. That day I found out the real reason.

I heard a small animalistic whimper as I trudged through the forest. I paused and glanced around my surroundings. I hear the whimper again from my left and I gently, quietly pulled back the branches that blocked my view. There in a small clearing was the Priest. He wore a red robe. The Devil's color is what we called it.

With horror, I watched as the Priest began walking towards a small white calf. The calf was tied to a large stake by its left back foot. I had never seen a white animal that looked so pure. Even the calf's eyes were white. I was awed by the beauty of the creature before me.

I placed a hand over my mouth to cover the gasp that attempted to escape at the sight of the blade in the Priest's hand. The calf's eyes widened and I noticed that they weren't white they were just really light blue. The calf began to kick with its free three feet but by the way it was tied there was no escape.

The Priest began to speak in a language I didn't know as he raised the blade. The calf became frantic now. It called out for its mother. The high pitch bleat that came from his mouth caused me to shiver. The Priest quickly brought the blade down, the bleating ceased and I closed my eyes. Before I knew it I was at home and mother was asking how my walk went. I should've stayed quiet. I shouldn't have asked questions. But I did. That evening, Mother went out to talk to the Priest. The next time I saw her, she was burning at the stake. I was sent to the orphanage at the edge of the village. So many times people asked me how scary it was to be in the house of a witch. I never answered their questions. Eventually they left me alone and that was how I preferred it.

Alone in the orphanage that rested at the edge of the village where I was condemned to live forever is where my story began.





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thatkidyoudontknow said...
Nov. 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I loved this story! I wasn't able to stop until the last word crossed my mind. I've been interested with this time period too and have written a story in the same area of history. if you took a look at it it would be appreciated
 
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