The ropes bit deeply into her wrists but she held her head high. Around her, villagers chanted, ‘witch, witch, witch!’ She ignored their cries and walked bare footed to the edge of the pond.
Everything was already set up, the witch hunter hadn’t delayed. He pushed her into a chair and she was tied into it. More ropes cut into her skin and cold prickled through the under dress she had been stripped too.
She said nothing. Knowing there was no sense in talking to anyone. They all believed what they wanted to believe and how could the single voice of the accused sway a crowd like this?
A crank handle was turned and slowly she rose up. Men pulled her out over the surface of the water. The villagers started yelling and waving their farming tools or whatever else had been to hand before they had come storming to her hovel.
The witch hunter called for silence and spoke out, ‘if she floats she is a witch. If she sinks she is not!’
‘Witch! Witch!’ the villagers yelled.
She felt the cold swirl of the pond water against her toes then her whole body was plunged into the water as the rope holding her snapped. She heard the screams of the villagers then nothing as the water closed over her.
I want to lock it away. I want to forget. If it’s locked away I might forget. I want things to go back like before. I want it to have never happened. I want to forget. I will forget, I must forget….
Lock it away, lock it up well and lock it all away forever. It can never come out again. No one must ever know nor find the door or the key. Keep it all hidden, keep it safe. Help me to forget. Lock it away. Lock it away!
Throw the key into the sea. Throw the door after it and IT too! Let the sea claim it. Or, bury the key and the door in the ground. Deep in the ground as deep as the dead. Never to return again. Never to be seen again or thought about. I must forget….
Out of sight, out of mind. Lock it away. Melt down the key, put the door through a wood shredder and blow up the walls. Reduce it all to ruin, wipe it off the face of the Earth. Let me forget it, let me go! Go far forever!
I was hurrying home after a quick run to the shops, not that there was much left on the shelves as everyone was panic buying but I had got as much on my list as I could.
Passing the costume shop on the corner of the high street, the window display caught my eye. Normally, there were bright colourful costumes, sometimes children’s character themed or old pop/rock stars, their Halloween and Christmas displays were great.
However today, there was a huge head to foot black cloaked figure with a 1600’s grey plague doctor’s mask covering the face. It looked scary, threatening and close to an imagine of Death himself.
I frowned and noticed the other three manikins were dressed as a mad scientist, a doctor and a sexy nurse.
Someone was really trying to get into fun of the health pandemic mode.
The couple on the top floor had been arguing again. I could hear their voices echoing through the apartment. I poked my head out of the door and looked up the twisting staircase, not that I could see anything other then the fancy design of the stairs and gold brass hand rail.
Just as I was going back inside, a large house plant in a clay pot came sailing over the railing down towards me. I jumped back as soil, broken pot and snapped off leaves flew everywhere.
I looked at the mess in wonder then up again towards the arguing couple and their door slammed shut.
‘Poor plant. It wasn’t your day, was it?’ I spoke, ‘well, we can’t leave you like this.’
Slowly, I searched out a new plant pot from my balcony and scooped as much as the soil up as possible. Re-potting the plant took some effort as it was heavier and taller then me.
‘There. That’s better now,’ I said and patted a leaf, ‘come into your new home now, safe away from those too. I hope they move out soon, worse neighbours I had for awhile.’
Carrying on my muttering, I took the saved plant inside.
I couldn’t sleep, so I lit a lantern and went to the beach. The sea was calming itself down after the storm, the dwindling swell was lower on the cliffs. The sound was powerful still, reminding me of the dangerous of being here.
I walked along the edge, picking my way but my feet knew all the right places to step. I had been walking this path since birth. In the pool of light, I could see seaweed and shells on the edges of rock pools.
The lighthouse, way out in the bay was flashing it’s beam and when that light came by it helped aid me. I hoped it was aiding other people too.
Stopping, I held my lantern high and looked out as far as I could. Somewhere out on that surging sea were my husband and oldest surviving son.
Their fishing boat had been gone for over two months and I couldn’t bear the worry anymore. What could I do though? It was woman’s curse to bear this waiting, this unknowing and the grieve of loss.
The sea brushed against my bare feet. I returned home and held my other children tightly whilst I wept.
Lucille carried her head high as she walked down the railway tracks. Her suitcases were heavy but she was use to carry them around. At each city, she was faced with the same thing, ‘you want to be a star? No chance!’ and the doors were shut in her face.
She walked on, not minding where she ended up next. Every city was the same after awhile and she could always find a place to stay and a little work to do. Lucille had many talents built over the years. Also, she had power over men that most woman envied and it didn’t involve the promise of her body.
Lucille smiled to herself as she totted on the wooden planks and stones of the tracks. She never lost hope and carried her dreams in her pockets. She kept trying and didn’t let anything knock her down for long. There was always tomorrow and one day, her fortune would change, Lucille knew it. Then she would show everyone what they had missed out on.
Oliver peered nervously out of the window and saw a sea wave crashing over the wall and on to the road outside his house.
The white foam tops of the waves clouded the air and sea spray mingled with the falling rain. The sea roared with an untameable lust that deafened everything nearby, only challenged by booming thunder.
The weather forecast had said it was going to bad on the coasts and flooding were likely. Of course, Oliver had prepared with sandbags at the doors and low windows. Most of his furniture was stacked upstairs and his car was parked up at Raven’s Edge cliff carpark.
Oliver thought that he should have stayed with his car because it was safer but he would have been fretting too much about his house being flooded.
Listening to the sea bashing about as the wild wind stirred the waves up and rain poured down, Oliver realised it was too late to do anything else. He would just have to hope that the sea didn’t rise anymore and his house didn’t flood.
Cati looked for a place to sit. A soft, almost invisible drizzle was falling, masked by mist that hung above the sea and cliffs. From up here, the view was like a window onto nature.
Cati rested on a rough rock. She was wearing waterproofs and covered in beads of water. She took off the hiking bag and searched for her thermal of tea and packet of trail mix.
Having heard rustling, Teddy, a Bernese mountain dog, appeared. He was big, fluffy with a tricolour coat and looked like his name. He loved exploring and walking as much as Cati did which made them best friends.
Cati give Teddy some dried chicken and poured him a bowl of water. Then, she drank tea and ate her snack. Wondering if she should make camp early, Cati packed up. The weather didn’t seem to be clearing and cliffs, like mountains, shouldn’t be walked at night.
‘Let’s go,’ Cati said and rubbed Teddy’s head.
They continued hiking; Cati looking for a sheltered spot and Teddy tracking rabbits. Soon, she found a place under tall pine trees and the sea, rain and a campfire became the background to their evening.