THIRTEEN HAUNTS OF HALLOWEEN
witch: a woman thought to have magic powers, especially evil ones, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat and flying on a broomstick; Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups.
I am a witch of Salem.
Regardless of trials, regardless evidence and arguments, regardless of testimonies, regardless of proof. I have been accused - therefore, I am. Because I will die without regard for the judge’s ruling, in the same way that my mother and my neighbor and Giles Corey under his rocks. I will die to prove innocence and I will die if I admit guilt. Silence cannot save me, nor will it condemn me. My fate was sealed the moment fingers began pointing and whispers stirring, so I have sealed my lips to match.
“You must tell them,” says my father, weepy under candlelight.
Mother tied two days ago. She became a warning; one of many, swinging from the hanging tree. Father choked on sobs every time a breeze whistled through our windows. He could not erase the picture of her body thrown by the wind, and at night he begged God to save her soul.
I cut her down.
This is why I am witch.
I cut her down to bury, to spare her a mass grave far from hallowed ground. I buried her in our yard, and an old man saw. He went to his neighbor’s house to share the news - news that trickled from doorstep to doorstep, until it rounded on the judge’s desk. The Bell girl, it said. The Bell girl stole her mother’s body and used it for a spell - a curse - to damn us all. The Bell girl, it said.
The Bell girl is a witch.
Perhaps I am, I think at first. Perhaps, I think, I should tell them yes.
It won’t change anything. This, I know. It won’t change the trial and the girls collapsing and writhing and pointing. It would stop the men from grabbing their heads and claiming I am inside their brains, whispering in tongues and luring them toward the dark.
And it would kill my father, wouldn’t it? For me to confirm his worst fears. He already lost Mother. I cannot stop him from losing me. He begs for miracles, pleads with me, “You must tell them. Tell them the truth. You must tell them.”
I haven’t a truth to tell. The truth does not exist in Salem.
You are witch, or you are dead, or you are both.
“I cannot tell them,” is all I say, and let Father riddle out a meaning even I’m not sure of.
I am a witch of Salem no matter what I say. I am a witch of Salem no matter what the judge decides. No one is proven innocent until they are dead. I will drown, or be hanged, or perhaps even buried alive under stones, because Salem fears its daughters - and so it stamps them out.
My name is Theodosia Bell, and I am a witch of Salem.