“Mary Ann Warren. I advise you to acknowledge your sins.” The Magistrate’s nostrils flared at the end of his hawkish nose, his unsightly, flapping jowls now illuminated by the flames of the executioner’s torch. “Repent before God for your heresy,”
Magistrate Stoughton insisted. My heart was empty, and I lacked the cleverness to invoke vengeful words. I sunk back heavily into the wooden stake behind me, exhausted by the inconvenience of being bound and bothered. My contemptuous silence pervaded the atmosphere, engulfing the tiny tides of whispers amongst the crowd.
“Then we shall restore innocence,” The Magistrate coughed, now wall-eyed and impatient.
The executioner waved his torch beneath my feet. Within moments I was submerged in flames. With my hair disheveled, cloaked in a tattered chemise, and smoke swirling into my lungs, I became a radiant, ethereal star, ready to transcend into the night sky.
“Light it again!” The Magistrate shrieked. “Cleanse our village of this evil!”
The executioner hurried with his torch, his hands quaking as he relit the fire below my unscathed and lissome body, this time with extra focus, and with extra trepidation.
Once again, the fire was put out, mystifying the onlookers.
“Witch!” Someone howled from the darkness.
I was powerless at stifling my laughter. “Where art thy God now?” I chortled.
Beyond the horde of petrified observers, a black goat emerged from the shadows. I wondered if my grin was visible through the third round of flames.
It was then that I knew I would be leaving Salem.