"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

9/19/08

Fiction Fridays: "The Good Witches"

Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fiction, hosted this week by Patty at Patterings. I wrote this entry for the "historical genre" topic for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. I must say the research was absolutely captivating, and I was quite taken by this story. It is certainly a part of American history that should never be forgotten. Hope you learn from, and enjoy, this piece. Don't forget to stop by Patterings for more great fiction!

THE GOOD WITCHES

"I don't like it one bit! My mama ain't a witch." Dorothy Good put her hands on her hips and gritted her teeth.

Her father, William Good, rapped her on the head and put his finger over his lips. "You watch your tongue in public, girl. And you get started on dinner. You got to be the woman of the family for a while now."

"Yes, papa."

Dorothy bowed her head and walked away from the Salem town square toward a small campfire in the abutting woods. There she started a couple onions and a potato boiling in a stew pot over the fire. Despite being only four years old, her mother had already taught her how to prepare a hearty meal out of anything she could get her hands on. The onions were growing alongside the edge of the woods, and she'd snagged the potato off the ground in front of Samuel's Grocer, where a customer had likely dropped it.

"Just because mama gets mad sometimes and talks to herself don't mean the devil's got her," Dorothy mumbled, stirring the meager provisions with a stick she'd picked up. "Do I ever miss her."

Her father approached the fire and sat beside it.

"Papa?"

"What, child?"

Dorothy stopped stirring the vegetables and looked straight into her father's eyes. "Are they ever gonna let mama outta that jail?"

He sighed. "I dunno. If she's guilty of witchcraft they sure won't."

Dorothy's eyes were afire. "But she isn't, papa. She isn't!"

Her father shrugged.

**

Dorothy, accustomed to joining her mother begging for food and shelter from the locals, had given up on seeking assistance from the townsfolk more than a week previous. Whenever she approached anyone, it seemed they gave her disapproving looks or called her a witch. Papa had warned her to stay away from the locals, lest she be arrested as well.

Instead, she spent much of her time in the woods, venturing into the town square only to get food or some other necessity.

"Look! It's the devil's spawn!" A girl in her early teens walked toward Samuel's Grocer, where Dorothy was scanning the walk in front of the shop for dropped goods.

"Am not, Miss Ann Putnam. And my mama is NOT a witch." Dorothy kicked dirt at her accuser.

Gasping, Ann wagged her finger at the girl. "How dare you. I'll make sure you're sorry you even spoke to me, you little witch."

**

"An apple!" Dorothy picked the shiny piece of fruit off the ground and brushed it off with the edge of her ragged skirt. "Papa will be pleased."

Inspecting the apple closely as she ambled down the street, the girl bumped her shoulder against a man about as tall as her father.

"'Scuse me," she mumbled under her breath, trying to hurry back into the woods.

"Come here, little lady." The gentleman put out his hand.

Dorothy paused and glanced about, debating whether to approach the man or run away. His smile convinced her to do the former.

"Yes sir?" she asked in her most polite voice.

The man's smile quickly turned to a smirk as he grabbed the girl and began carrying her toward the Salem courthouse.

"Dorothy Good, you are under arrest for afflicting another with witchcraft."

Dorothy kicked and screamed, but was unable to wiggle out of the man's grasp.

"Just like her mother," the officer growled as he placed her in a holding cell. "Just like her mother."

Author's note: Dorothy Good was arrested and interrogated in late March of 1692 and held in a Boston prison for 9 months in chains. She was the youngest person arrested for witchcraft during the Salem Witch trials, and, according to her father William, was permanently damaged from her ordeal. Her mother, Sarah Good, was one of the first women arrested for witchcraft in Salem in early March of 1692, and was executed by hanging in mid-July of the same year.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, this is fascinating. Sad too. INcredible writing here, my dear.

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  2. I remember reading stories like this in high school and just shocked at how frenzied people got. You totally captured the time and feeling--and made me glad I was born when I was and not then!

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  3. Those "witch hunters" thought they were serving God's kingdom, but they have become a stumbling block because of their wickedness. I hope that I never get so caught up in my own ideas for "serving the Lord" that I miss His Will altogether!

    Great writing.

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  4. Really? What parts are true? Does that sound dumb to ask? Don't answer.

    I love stories like this. You're writing pulled me right in.

    peace~elaine

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  5. I'd be arrested too, since I constantly talk to myself! *yikes* I was born real close to Salem, but my sister, who has red hair! was born in Salem!! Yes, Salem, MA.

    I cannot imagine living there during those times! Wow!

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