The Hysteria That Tragically Broke 1692

 

Triggered by pain, I jerk to life. My back is being stripped of its skin as I’m being dragged across the room. My head pounds with every movement. Smoke fills my lungs and clenches my neck. When I lift my head, it slams back down; I’ve been smashed in the head and I am utterly weak.             As I squint at the assailant that has a grasp on my ankles, fire flashes and I see him. He’s not wearing a shirt, but he is covered in something—perhaps paint. His grip tightens on me as I assess his figure. His beefy build frightens me and overpowers my will to fight. As he yells, I finally figure out what is happening. An Indian attack. I desperately kick and scream with all that is inside me. Suddenly, I feel my heels drop to the floor. My attacker hits the ground with such force; my body shakes. I peer through the thick smoke and see my father standing tall over the body of the Indian. He reaches down and picks me up swiftly as he screams for the both of us to run. Adrenaline courses through my body as I race for my life through the burning village with ravenous Indians igniting catastrophe all around me. My father is right behind me picking up the pace. Then suddenly, I stop. My feet stop moving as I jerk to a halt. I slowly turn my head. My hair is blowing softly across my face while blood trickles down into my eyes as they eventually meet my fathers. My voice trembles with fear as I whisper,

“Where’s mom?”

He looks at me with eyes that seem to say it all. They are screaming with pain, crying with fear, drowning in sorrow, and enthralled with apology. Looking beyond him at the burning village, I start to run—not away this time, but toward it. I tear up the stairs to my house and scream my mother’s name. Nothing. As the building collapses around me, I crumble to my knees in the sizzling rubble and sob.

***

Salem Village, that’s where we move to. It really is nothing much. Simple wood buildings with thatched roofs everywhere. One church. One court house. All the same. Dirt paths. Livestock everywhere. My father quickly purchases a quaint house that is fairly large and fully furnished, my father is reasonably flush. The house has a prominent central chimney, a steep pitched roof, fancy white clapboards covering the outside, diamond paned casement windows, an elegant Victorian over hang onto the wraparound porch on both floors, and a board and batten door. I go straight to my room and bury my face into my pillow and sleep.

In the morning, I wake up to the sun prying open my eyes through my window. Groggily, I make my way downstairs.

“Malia, get dressed. You must be on your way to school.”

Father makes me sit down and talk to him about my new church school and that I must attend today. I furiously stomp up stairs and look at what I have to wear—nothing much. A long black dress, black socks, and black shoes. I throw on my outfit and look in the mirror. Cautiously, try to run my finger through my wavy black hair in a manner that won’t hurt my head. Then I take a wet rag and wash my face.  My blue eyes seem dull after all that has happened to me. I go back down stairs and yell goodbye to my father. I step out of the house and start to make my way to my school. I get there and I am beyond nervous, I’ve never started a new school.

My strides into the classroom are short and uneasy. I take a seat in a wooden hard chair and patiently wait for the day to quickly come to an end. As I walk out of the school, I turn to look and thank the teacher when all of a sudden I bump into someone. Aggressively, I turn to see who it is and our eyes meet.

“Sorry, wasn’t lookin at where I was going,” his grin triggers blush to fly across my face.

“Oh, please don’t worry about it, it’s my fault,” I nervously blurt out.

He just stands there smiling. See, that’s where the trouble begins. That smile.

“You gonna tell me your name?” he asks.

I just blink. His dark floppy hair and green eyes enchant me. As the expression on his face changes to weirdly confused because I am just standing there staring at him I suddenly say,”Malia Hale.”

“My name is Lucien Castle.” His smile creeps back onto his face.

I frantically have to keep looking away, for I’m afraid he will notice my blushing.

“Nice to meet you, I shall see you tomorrow,” he says as he brushes against my shoulder to walk in the other direction.

The next day at school, I immediately search for Lucien. I see him and I instantly light up, but as I approach him, a group of girls surround me.

“Malia, correct?” One girl questions.

“Yes. Um, how do you know my name?”

“Lucien,” another girl adds.

“We are sorry we haven’t introduced ourselves, I’m Abigail, this is Mercy, Hannah over there, Kelsey there,” and she does on to name nine other names.

As I looked at all the girls while she was naming them, I begin to finally feel included.

“We want to invite you to something, but you must not tell what it is. We are meeting in the woods tonight to dance and sing. My uncle must not know or he will say it is of the devil, so you must sneak out of your house and not say a word.”

My heart sinks and I get a knot in my stomach; the things these girls are saying scare me and I decide to disregard their invite.

I politely smile at them and proceed to enter the school house. That night I stay up. I stay up to see the girls running to the woods one by one, tiptoeing at times and giggling. As I lose sight of them I decide to just go to bed and forget what I saw. In the morning, I quickly dress and run to school to ask the girls about that night. I arrive and no one is there. I sprint to the main part of the village and see everyone standing, gossiping and whispering.

“What’s going on?” I ask someone.

“The minister saw some girls dancing and chanting to the devil in the woods.”

My stomach flipped.

“Where are they now?”

“In the court house, discussing what shall be done to those witches.”

I immediately dash to the court house. I tear through the doors and see the other girls along with Tituba (a slave from Barbados) arguing with the Reverend Parris, “a serious, dedicated minister, he combined his evangelical enthusiasm to revitalize religion in Salem Village with psychological rigidity and theological conservators” (The). I silently sit and watch carefully in the back.

‘”Now look child, your punishment will come in its time. But if you trafficked with spirits in the first I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it,”‘ Reverend Parris proclaims (Miller).

‘”But we never conjured spirits,”‘ Abigail pleads (Miller).

After what seems like endless banter between Reverend Parris, Tituba, and Abigail, Tituba belts out a confession about working with the devil, which is completely not true! I know her. I know the girls and they swore nothing that they did in the woods was of the devil. Why is Tituba saying this? Then Abigail screams out,

‘”I danced with the devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book,”‘ (Miller).

I can’t believe what I’m hearing!

I burst out of the court house doors and into the dirt street village; I’m hyperventilating and I just start running. — Puritan –and they believe “that the appropriate response was to repent and reform” in which “in particular viewed the world around them, including the interplay of natural and supernatural phenomena” (Godbeer). In this view “lacking a natural explanation, the Puritans turned to the supernatural—the girls were bewitched” (National).

At church school the next day, non of the girls are there.

“Lucien, where are the others?”

He looks at me and cocks his head and brings his eyebrows together in a way that makes him look genuinely concerned about my question.

“Court house?”

“Why would they be there?”

“They are apart of a committee that condemns other witches here in Salem.”

I feel my stomach sink to my feet and I collapse on the ground. Lucien races over to me with his perfectly fast reflexes.

“How ’bout we skip school today and go walkin in the woods?”

His green eyes distinguish any urge in me to say no. My favorite thing to do is walk in the woods, how could I say no? The short walk in the woods quickly turns into a long hike in the brush. All the while, I’m sharing secrets and making myself completely vulnerable to Lucien. He makes me feel safe and confident in myself, beautiful and strong, and amazing and adventurous. I fall. I fall for his deep charm and beautiful nature. His dark floppy hair and green eyes enchant me always.

We get back and the whole village is in a ballistic craze. People are running around screaming, girls are crying, dogs are howling. Lucien grabs my hand and we make our way to the crux of the yelling. I look up and I see it, a limp body hanging by rope swaying in the winds. Someone was hung on the gallows.

“Lucien why, why was she hung?”

“Witchcraft, she’s been condemned.”

“But you know it’s all fake right, witches do not exist! The girls are lying and are blaming people to not get themselves in trouble. You would never do that right Lucien—if someone condemned you—you wouldn’t lie and blame someone else to get out of it yourself.”

“No never, you know I wouldn’t Malia. You know me.”

Soon after that many others are hung. The hill is known currently as “Gallows Hill” (History).

I get home and I’m greeted at my door. By men of the court.

“Malia Hale, you are ordered by the court to come with us and go to trial for witchcraft.”

My heart. Broke. Shattered. Stopped.

“Who is accusing me?!”

“Please put your wrists in these chains and proceed to the court house.”

I arrive at the court house and stumble in the doors. Once I fumble to the front of the room, I lift my head to see my accuser. It’s him. The floppy black hair. Piercing green eyes.

“Lucien Castle.” My voice quivers.

His faulty gaze, hazy eyes, and broken grin across his face send me into rage.

“Malia Hale, is it true that you have danced with the Devil?”

I fight. My mind is spinning. If I say yes, I am a liar and a coward. If I say no, I sentence myself for the worst.

“No.”

“Ah, but Lucien Castle claims he saw you with the Devil, which indicates that you are indeed working with him.”

“No, I know I am not a witch, and you cannot make out to be something I am not,” I valiantly say with my chin rising higher and higher to show utter confidence.

I look over at Lucien, and he’s silent. His chains still, his head bowed, and his spirit broken.

“Is that your final plea Mrs. Hale.”

“Yes.”

“Malia Hale.”

I hold my breath.

“You are sentenced to hang tomorrow morning.”

The gavel pounds on the table.

Works Cited

Godbeer, Richard. The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St.              Martins, 2011. Print.

History.com Staff. “Salem Witch Trials.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2011. Web. 29            Mar. 2017.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts. New York: Penguin, 2016. Print.

“National Geographic: Salem Witch-Hunt–Interactive.” National Geographic: Salem Witch-                     Hunt–Interactive. n.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.

“The Salem Witchcraft Site.” Samuel Parris. n.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.