An Eye for and Eye: Chapter 1

November 6, 2009
It comes back to me in pieces. When I dream at night, and even sometimes during the day, I see her face. I see the fire enveloping it. I see her die. I hear her scream in a tongue I do not understand. But it is what happened after that, that puzzles me. I can see her still, even after she was dead. She would wander the streets of Oakwood at night, seen only in shadow. After the deaths of her killers, she became nothing but a legend. But I knew the truth. I knew she was, is, real.

I was not yet thirteen when it all happened. There was much speculation about what was to be done with the Witch in the Woods. Too many of my peers had disappeared in those woods. And the elders of the town were beginning to wonder if the known witch had anything to do with it. I remember just days previous to the holding of the Council, my peer Claudia had called out to me.

“Elizabeth! Elizabeth Davis you come here this instant!” Claudia was a few years older than all the other children in town, and considered herself the wisest. But vanity is not wise when trying to become a leader. And vain she was. As she ran towards me her blonde curls bounced angelically around her face. Her full lips were pursed. She was well developed for a fifteen year old, and most of the fourteen year old boys worshiped her.

When she reached me she stood with her hands on her hips, and her hip to one side. “Why are you not playing with the rest of us?” she asked. Not as if she was concerned, but as if she was disappointed. “All the rest of the children are together playing tag, I'm watching them of course. Those games are too childish for me now,” she said, swiping a few loose curls behind her shoulder.

“I feel ill,” I replied shortly, without even looking at her. I was too preoccupied with picking at the grass.

“Well you should not be about then. Go back to your house and stay there until you are well,” she said, barely giving me a second glance. I had a strong urge to give her a good kick, however I refrained. I never really was one for playing. I was more of an observer. I decided it would be best to observe from my house. I was not feeling ill, I was just feeling annoyed.

I soon stood myself up and walked the yards to my house. I went inside and moved myself to my room. “Why are you not out with the other children?” my mother asked. I did not respond. I shut the door to my room and climbed onto my bed. It was placed next to the window so I had an excellent view of where the other children were playing. I could hear them as well.

“I'm not sure that would be the best idea, but if it's what you want,” Claudia trailed off. She was always one to break the rules for the soul purpose of pleasing people. I to this day am not entirely sure why any of the parents of Oakwood would let Claudia be the one to take care of their children. I saw the group of kids sink out of view. I knew where they were headed. The Woods. The Woods were not a place that anyone was supposed to venture in to. Especially since several kids had gone missing in the past few months. I knew at least one of the children in the group would not return. I never thought it would be Claudia.

The Woods of Oakwood were off limits for a good reason. They lay to the west of the town. They definitely had a foreboding look about them. There was never much vegetation, and there were always dead leaves littering the forest floor. However the trees were all so close together that you could barely see a few yards in. But everyone knew if you ventured in far enough and went up a steep hill, you would find the most rotted, dilapidated, abandoned looking house you would ever see. But it was not abandoned. No one knew her name or where she had come from, but everyone was positive that she was a witch. And she was responsible for the disappearance of the twelve children that had gone missing in the past few months. Of course because it had not been officially brought up in Council, it was a hushed topic.

But kids ventured there anyway. Always looking for mischief. Personally I blamed Claudia for the missing children up until that day. It would forever be known as the 13th day.

House passed and it was not until nightfall that the search began. All but one of the children had returned. And when they had returned, they spoke of horrors that were only seen otherwise in nightmares. Howling, screaming and scratching noises and surrounded them. The trees themselves began to uproot and almost walk around the clearing they had all been in. Once it had stopped they wandered for hours. They exited the woods as if they had been drowning; they were gasping for air and clutching their chests. It was only in mumbles that the adults who had received them realized that Claudia had been the unlucky one this time. Claudias parents, although it had been suggested otherwise, organized the bravest men in the village and ordered them to begin the search.

The wiser ones of the village, mainly those of the Council, stayed behind. I of course was not wise at the time, and for the first time in my life curiosity got the better of me. My parents were preoccupied with the new stem of gossip that had erupted and I was easily able to sneak to the edge of the woods. I stood there for a few moments, listening and decided where to go.

Once I had located the search parties direction I scurried into the woods. It was dark, but the moon was full and lit up strands of forest floor where the trees would allow. I found my way to the hill and began to climb, still listening. It was half way up that I saw it. The faint glow at the crest of the climb. I felt the heat as well, and with my new found curiosity egging me on, I continued to climb.

After I had come over the top of the hill I raised my head slowly, fearful of what I might see. The house had easily caught flame, as it was so old and rotted. Claudias body was near it. She had frozen in death with a wide, horrified look on her face. Her mouth was agape and her hair was knotted. Behind her was the blaze of blazes. And inside that blaze was the most horrific sound I had ever heard. A loud, croaked scream that made my bones melt and the hair on my head tingle down to the ends. The woman inside was barely visible from where I stood but I saw her. She was sitting in what must have been a rocking chair, writing in pain as she was engulfed in flames. And her eye, the fake eye, was blazing. She screamed out what I guess must have been curses in some language I did not understand. And as the beams of the house fell and she was no longer visible, the world around me blurred. A few moments later, everything went black, and my world was silent.

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