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.
I desperately 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 soon.
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...
Suddenly, 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 the street.
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
sound, “Any 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 anymore.
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.
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