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The Blair Witch Project

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The door rattled as my father closed it behind him. A freezing draft waved snow into our small cottage, making us shiver. My 7-year-old twin brothers ran to hug my father’s legs

“Hello my boys. Hello Maybelle. Hello darling.” He said to us. My mother rushed over to kiss him on the cheek.

“Your stew is on the table. Eat up before it gets cold.” With that, she grabbed the twins and went to put them to bed. I sat down on a wooden stool next to my father.

“How was work today papa?” I asked, hoping he would say something different than that it was cold and tiring.

“Cold…and tiring.” He gave me a weak smile while rubbing his neck. My hope vanished.

“Henry learned the alphabet today,” I said, trying to lighten his mood, “and Caleb knows his numbers.” Not even one word of satisfaction escaped his lips. I stared at him, trying to figure out what I said wrong.

“Papa? Aren’t you-”

“I need to talk to you, Maybelle.” He said sternly. I nodded, too scared to talk. “There…there’s always…Oh, Maybelle.” He burst into tears. I shot off my stool and rubbed his back.

“Papa, what is wrong?”

“Your mother…she was-” He gasped and choked on his words, silent tears flowing from his mahogany brown eyes down his ruddy cheeks. Before he could utter another word, the front door slammed open, causing us both to flinch. A Salem officer stepped in, his heavy boots leaving snow on the floor.

“Does a ‘Blair May O’Connor’ live here?” Without waiting for a reply, he told the men behind him to search the house. As my father argues with the man about “private property”, I began to wonder:

Why were these officers here?

Why did they just barge in?

And why were they looking for my mother?
***

“Got the money?” A burly Salem officer spit the words at me. I quietly dropped two silver coins, half of my father’s monthly salary, into the officer’s sweaty and meaty palm. It has been a month since they Salem officers took my mother away to prison. I only got to see her every other month. I was now 15, for my birthday was three days after my mother was taken away. The officer ushered me through the iron gate with a push and got back to business. I walked down a long, dimly lit hall. On each side, there where hundreds of jail cells filled with one person each. I rolled my eyes mentally at the Salem officers. They thought these “witches” and “wizards” could get out of prison if they helped each other perform ‘magick”. That was clearly for the birds.

“Maybelle? Oh, my dear Maybelle!” A rough and scratchy voice cut through my thoughts like a knife through warm butter. I ran towards the end of the hall, ignoring the grimy hands that poked through the cells’ bars, begging for help. As I neared a jail cell with particularly rusted bars, the voice spoke again. “Maybelle?” Two dirty and bone-like hands reached through the bars, pulling me closer. “Oh, my dear Maybelle.” My mother repeated. She stepped into the dim light of the hall and nearly scared me to death. Her skin was taut on her bones, and very dirty. Her beautiful face was cut up and framed by unkempt blonde hair. My mother never looked so horrible.

“Oh, mother! What have they done to you?” I dropped to my knees as she combed her bony fingers through my golden locks.

“Look how beautiful you’ve gotten!” She exclaimed, ignoring my question. “How’s your father? How are the twins?” Her eyes wandered all over my face, and I realized they turned an ugly gray, with bloodshot whites. She used to say that our sparkly, sapphire eyes were our best feature.

“They’re all fine. Henry and Caleb grew to be very handsome. Papa is working hard. We miss you.” I could feel tears welling up inside my me eyes.

“Shh… It’s alright, we’ll get through this.” My mother patted my head. I slipped her a chunk of yellow cheese, bread, and a ruby red apple. She kissed my forehead through the bars, whispering goodbye into my hair. I hurried away, not looking back once at the stranger who watched me leave the Salem County Prison.
***

“Three apples?”

“Yes.”

“Oh! Maybelle, why only three? I swear I gave you enough for five!” My father bellowed, flustered.

“Well, you did not. I must be on my way. Goodbye twins. Goodbye papa.” I called walking out the door. The two stolen apples lay heavy in my long, goose-down jacket pockets, weighing me down with every step. It was February, and I had a long trek to the Salem County Courthouse. The Salem Witch Trials were today. I had a plan to get my mother out and away, far away from Salem, Massachusetts. She couldn’t be executed for being a witch. She never was one to begin with. Her tired, soiled, cut up face was still a horrid image in my mind, and in my nightmares. My mother had to be saved. I made my way down a snowy trail and quietly slipped past the sleeping guards, thankful for my all-white attire, which blended in with the snow.

“Who goes there?!” I paused in my tracks, my heart skipping a beat, as the deep voice of the guard traveled by in the wind. I glanced over my shoulder. To my relief, he was hollering at a man who didn’t bother to pay the entrance fee. When the guard pushed the wiry old man down, I had the urge to turn back and help, but my mother was at the top of my list. I ran to the back of the Courthouse, where ten “witches” were being held for their trials. I saw two guards that were heavily asleep, for it was only a bit after dawn, in front if me. I crept past them, cringing every time the snow crunched beneath my boots, and stumbled into a man. He looked down at me, his dark, cold eyes searching my face.

“Who are you here to rescue?” He voice was surprisingly high, like when my father imitated the fairies from the twins’ bedtime stories.

“Uh…Blair May O’Connor.” I coughed.

“She’s on the bench.” He pointed to a wooden, poorly crafted bench leaning against the back of the Courthouse.

“Thank you, sir.” Without thinking, I handed him a silver coin and ran to the bench. It was occupied by two women.

“Maybelle? What are you doing here?” One of the women stood up. It was mother, who looked about ten times worse then when I saw her last.

“There is no time. We must go now. Bring your companion.” I tugged at my mother’s hand. She let out a sigh and plopped back down on the bench. Tears fell down her cheeks as she shook her head. I stared at her. Suddenly, the guards stirred in their sleep, heavy, spiked clubs lying by their large hands.

“That’s your fate, mother.” I whispered and turned to leave. Without hesitation, mother swiped at her tears and pulled the other woman to her feet.

“Lead the way, darling.” She smiled. I led them through the woods by the Courthouse. As we neared the cobblestone road at the edge of the woods, I began to explain where they were headed.

“My friend’s brave father is waiting on the road with a horse and wagon. He’ll take you far from here. The Salem officers will never find you again.” A wagon came into view, ready for a long journey. The woman jumped right in, but my mother turned to face me.

“Oh my sweet girl. How will I ever see you again?” She cried.

“I’ve arranged everything. Papa, the twins, and I should be coming in two weeks. Mother, we’ll start over, live our lives fairly.” I kissed her on her already-tear-soaked cheek and handed her the two apples.

“I love you, mother.” I helped her into the wagon and told them to be off. As I stood on the cobblestone road, the wind ruffling my golden locks, a faint “I love you, too.” traveled right with it and into my heart.



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