BEWITCHED: 1st Place – Peyton Cassel, Manor Middle School
July 19, 1692
My name is Sarah Good. I am thirty-one years old. And today is the day I am scheduled to die.
This cell is dank and musty, and I shrink back against the prickling of straw at my feet. I am used to the smell by now though, and the rats will do me no harm. I only wish that I could say the same about people. But they have rarely been kind to the likes of me before, and there is no way that one can change the future, unless one is, of course, a witch. But despite what they may tell themselves, a witch I am not.
The door bangs open and I jerk upright, squinting against the harsh glare of daylight. I slowly raise my eyes from the pair of freshly polished boots, to the brass buttons of his coat, and finally to meet the scornful gaze of Nicholas Noyes.
“Have you come to kill me then?” I demand, abandoning all sense of conformity.
Noyes frowns, but not before I catch the gleam in his own eyes, and the maddening lust for blood. “Nay witch. I have come to rid the world of your satanic ways. We have waited a long time to see you hang.”
He strides over and hauls me unceremoniously to my feet. Wincing at the coarse bite of rope at my wrists, I don’t struggle as he leads me outside. The first tendrils of a breeze reach me, and I relish the feel of wind against my skin. I tilt my head back into the fading sunlight, knowing that it will be the last time I will ever see it.
He shoves me, and I stumble forward, my eyes lowered to the ground. I do not meet the accusing glares of those around me, nor the faceless mass of people that crowd around the scaffold. I flinch as a man spits at me, the ghastly wad landing mere inches from my naked feet. Jerked forward yet again by Noyes, I stumble on.
When I climb the steps to the platform, I take my stand by the tall, wooden frame. I try not to think about how it will feel, and resist the urge to put my hands to my neck. They are bound behind me, so I wouldn’t be able to anyway.
I stay perfectly still as Noyes finishes reading aloud the charges against me, knowing that it would be pointless to run. “And now, Sarah Good, found guilty of practicing witchcraft and dark magic, is sentenced to hang for her crimes.”
He turns to me, and all I can wonder is how a man like him could have become second minister, and loved by those who call him “teacher.” But I know who he truly is, and I will not give him the satisfaction of me begging.
“Have you any last words, witch?” he snarls.
I watch him coldly, and see him shift in unease beneath my gaze. “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life from me, then God shall give you blood to drink.”
He swallows hard, and I am gratified to see uncertainty flash in his eyes. “God shall see you hang, witch.” His upper lip curls in disgust, and he motions for men to secure the ropes.
I do not wince as the rough material goes around my neck, and nor do I cower when they prepare for the final drop. Instead, I raise my eyes to the horizon and set my mouth in a grim line. Let them bring on me what they must.
Because the end will set me free.
December 13, 1717
Nicholas Noyes died twenty-five years later, due to a hemorrhage in the mouth. He really did choke on his own blood.
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