The Witch

April 20, 2012
She stood on the edge of the cliff, looking over the ocean waves. They had all been so eager to accuse her. They never hesitated during the trial. All of them cried out supposed sightings of her performing rituals or casting spells. She told them she had never done such things. She gave medicines to the sick and soothing creams for aches. They turned her kindness into wickedness.

She recalled the night vividly.

~“Burn the witch!”

“Hang her!”

They came like an unexpected plague. One moment the outside world had been pitch black save for the moonlight; then the next their torches resembled burning stars coming closer and closer while only their pale, angry faces shadowed in the dim light. Once their shouts were heard, she rushed towards the door. Slender hands fumbled with the lock and key; she reached for the nearest side table, unconcerned about the crashing vase shattering into pieces, and forced the table in front of the door. Her heart pounded hard against her chest. She wanted to scream, but her throat had gone dry. Her knees shook underneath her and threatened collapsing. What should she do? Should she go peacefully? Should she flee? Should she fight? Rebecca peered through the soft linen curtains of her window beside the window. She spotted the wagon. On top sat a large iron cage, fit for a prisoner. She imagined they would throw her in there; they would march her into town and hang her.

“Rebecca Paisley!” A male voice sounded behind the door. She knew that voice. “Servant of Satan, open this door!”

Rebecca began panting. Her heart raced faster, her mind whizzing for an answer. She predicted this. She had seen Sarah’s face that day in church; how she burned with envy at the glances between him and her. She should have known better than accepting Sarah’s help.

“Open this door or we shall break it down!” He warned.

Oh no. She knew the people in this town. They would barge in if she did not meet their demands. Turning to face the door, the key shook in her hand; she made two attempts to slip it into the lock before finally entering and twisting. A deep inhale and a long exhale, Rebecca slowly opened the door. There they stood: A large mob of people she once called friends and neighbors, their once friendly eyes were now accusatory. She noted the council of elders watching her with cold stares; the blonde-haired girl standing behind them with her smug face clear in the firelight. She tried remaining composure. She did not want them spotting fear. Fear gave them more power, like a monster of her nightmares.

“Rebecca Paisley…”

He led the group, the tall man with broad shoulders and curly black hair hanging around his face with light emerald eyes gazing down at her. Minister Jacobs’s eyes were not filled with tender love; his compassionate smile was absent. The Christopher Jacobs she knew did not stand before her. The man at her front door was Minister Christopher Jacobs, the man who led these mobs up to women’s homes. Rebecca’s golden eyes nearly drowned in tears at the sight of him standing there with
that hardened expression.

“Minister Jacobs,” She said.

“I demand you come with us to stand trial,” He said.

Rebecca could not help but notice the stiffness in his voice. He did not lunge for her arm, pull her towards the wagon, and have his men toss her into the cage as he did the other girls. He merely stood there, The Holy Book in his hand and that cross hanging from his neck. Rebecca, timidly, moved towards him. She hoped deep inside her peaceful exit would give her a better chance.

“But…But, sir, I meant no harm. I did not know my healing elixirs would bring such harm,” She said, regretting offering her services to these traitors.

He said nothing. Minister Jacobs grasped her forearm gently, guiding her towards the wagon. She neither kicked nor struggled. Surely he could feel the tremble in her hands; he could sense her fright. The iron cage closed with a clang, the world suddenly becoming colder and darker. Finally, her tears escaped her lashes and fell down her cheeks. She was going to die.

“You will not be harmed.” His voice was a faint whisper she hardly made out, but she did not have to. His face showed sincerity.~

Now she stood here on the edge of the cliff. The ocean waves washed on the aged rocks below. She thought it amusing how the rocks seemed to line up around the curve of the cliff, making a thin crescent shape. For a moment, a voice said “Jump”. She thought she should; this lonely island was unbearable. Fourteen months moving about the sandy beaches, through the tall grass plains, living in her small wooden cottage in solitude made her feel lonelier. Not a single living soul visited. Not even Christopher came.
Exile was her punishment. The townsfolk commanded vengeance on the witch who murdered their children. They hungered for a hanging in the courthouse; they shouted at the council for death. However, Christopher gave the last word. She recalled his command for order; the gabble’s knocking echoing in the large house. She saw the hidden regret as he sentenced her to exile, where her elixirs harmed no others. Rebecca said nothing. She only saw Sarah Burns’ smirk slowly creep along her face from her seat in the pews.

She will die on this island, unaccompanied and without the warm arms of Christopher Jacobs. She will die never revealing the truth to anyone: That Sarah Burns poisoned the children and accused Rebecca of witchcraft…all to have him to herself…

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