I had not slept all
night. Even when I arose in the early hours of the morning I was
not tired in the slightest. I wished I could have slept forever,
never to wake up for then I would not have had to endure the day
ahead. The end of the line.
needed something to get my mind off of it, I dressed in a kind of
stupor, pulling on my torn dress and scuffed plimsolls before
making my way outside into the too-bright early morning
light.After the dingy darkness of the cellar, the sunlight that
bounced off the cobbled street hurt my eyes and made me blink. I
wondered, somewhat aimlessly, the last words my mother had said
to me echoing like ghosts around my head.
Whatever I was
feeling in the darkness of the night in the basement was nothing
compared to what screamed at me from every angle in the crowded
streets. The mothers and daughters in the shops, no doubt buying
treats for the Big Event. I could not even begin to imagine what
they would be watching. With the disgusting grins on their
flushed faces and laughing as they destroyed her.
I rounded a corner
onto another street, oddly busy for seven o'clock in the morning.
I had no job now so I did not need to get up in the morning but I
did anyway. No one wanted a servant whose mother was a
You-Know-What. When I rounded the corner, a wave of nausea hit me
and I took an involuntary step backwards, like the huge sign that
hung suspended in the middle of the high houses either side of
the street had just struck me around the face with a cane. The
words stayed etched into my brain long after I looked away, Witch
Hanging! Witch Hanging! Witch Hanging! At midday. Far too
I had not realized
how long I had been staring at the screaming banner until I heard
the chime of the colossal church clock chiming a warning in my
direction, only an hour to go. The villagers milling around
turned their heads in the direction of where it was to happen,
looking excited, the horrid, gleeful grins that only a public
hanging could bring. They hurriedly paid for their sweetmeats and
drinks and shuffled along with the growing crowd towards the
park. Before I knew it I was being shunted forward against my
will, the tidal wave of people, laughing, joking, not a care in
the world. They were pressing down on me, suffocating me.
Suddenly it seemed much too hot, the sweaty bodies pushing and
shoving until I was sure I would drown. It seemed the more I
struggled against being placed exactly in the place I wanted to
avoid most, the more the public wanted me to break down. To stop
rejecting what I knew was to come inevitably, the huge feeling of
grief and remorse that was to destroy me. But I had to stay
strong, for her. I had to see her one last time...
everything had stopped. The entire world was silent. Waiting with
baited breath for it to happen; for the end.
...There she was,
being pushed ungracefully onto the podium, and with a twist of
pride for my poor mother, I saw that she had her head held aloft
and not a tear upon her face. She always was the bravest. Why,
why on earth did she get herself caught? I saw her being shoved
onto the temporary stage and saw her eyes wandering the crowd.
Was she looking for someone? Me? Suddenly she went out of view
from me and I craned my neck to look over the waves of jostling
people and she had looked my way also. She saw me and widened her
eyes, looking horror-struck. What are you doing here, Violet? You
should not have come, you know that! I did know that. I knew I
shouldn't be here, but I was. I couldn't have helped it.
It was then that
she looked away, if the wardens knew I was here then we would
both be in big trouble. She looked deftly at him. The man who was
to commit the Terrible Deed. She looked at him swiftly, as if
bored, as if he were a common scrounger that had prayed of her in
They placed her
carefully in the noose, a sweet pearl necklace and let her stand
for a few seconds, eyeing the crowd, daring them to make a
last words?" The executioner spoke, a rough, harsh sound. I
flinched away from it, I would not let that be the last thing she
heard. Say something, please...
"I am not afraid.
Nor am I ashamed. I do not regret anything. Let the Good Lord be
your guide. Take the path that I have taken, and be happy."
Absolute silence. No one said a thing, but the killer made a
sudden movement and I knew what was about to happen.
I turned, the bile
rising in my throat and tried to block out my sense of hearing. I
pushed at the people behind me, all of them waiting for the deed
to be done. I couldn't watch. I pushed and shoved and clawed my
way through the forest of beating hearts. I needed to find
salvation; I needed to find air. Suddenly, a tremendous cheer
went rippling through the crowd and I froze. No. No, no. It was
done. The entire park did not exist, the sounds of the people
were drowned out, she was gone and nothing mattered
Just as I began to
twist my way through the jeering torrent, a light breeze flew
around my head and tickled my face. Goodbye, Mother.