The Witch Test
By: Dawn DeBraal

"She floats. Witch!" Shouted the town elder. Anna Marie, accused of being a witch when she disagreed with her neighbour, she wished her ill, weeks ago. Several of the townspeople heard her say this. When her neighbour did fall sick, the town was convinced the devil-possessed Anna Marie.

Anna Marie floundered in the water, exhausted trying to stay afloat with the stone tied to her leg. There was no way to win. She was alive only as long as she could keep herself floating. Once she drowned, they would say she was innocent. But that was too late. This was the second trial in Salem this month. Anna Marie's friend Elizabeth Caldwell failed the Lord's Prayer test. Elizabeth said the prayer correctly, but the minister overseeing her testimonial prayer said the devil himself caused her to pass the test. No one could pass the witch test.

Anna Marie tried to call out to her mother that she loved her as her head went down. Her mother stood at the edge of the pond, screaming her name. Anna Marie tried to kick off the bottom of the lake, surfacing once more. Exhausted, she no longer could fight it, nor did she care to. Slowly she disappeared below the surface. The townspeople stood for another ten minutes waiting. When she didn't come back up, they walked away silently.

"I guess she wasn't a witch. Such a pity." Pastor Henry Fedor shook his head, walking away.

"My daughter! You have killed my only daughter!" Anna Marie's mother flew into a rage, pounding on Henry's back, anything she could strike. He restrained her.

"Witch!" shouted Henry's wife elbowing her daughter, Brianna.

"Witch!" The daughter cried, fainting to the ground rolling in pain.

The village elder cried out, "Seize her!" watching as both the minister's wife and his daughter, writhed in the dirt.

"Sadie Marie Cowl, you have been accused of being a witch. You will stand trial. Take her away!" Sadie screamed as they hauled her from the shore of the lake to the jail. Her husband, Nathan, protested loudly.

"Stop! Isn't it enough you have taken our daughter? This is wrong. My wife is not a witch! I beg you, let her go!" His cries went ignored.

Sadie spent a restless night in jail, visited by her husband the next morning. Nathan hung his head.

"There is nothing we can do. The minister's wife and daughter still insist you have bewitched them."

If the truth were known, Sadie didn't care anymore. She wanted to die. Now that her daughter was gone, life had no meaning. She was too old to have another child—a mother's worst nightmare. Sadie never told her husband, that she was a witch. She asked Nathan to bring her things. Nathan was allowed to bring her a meal the next day. He was afraid the objects he was bringing in would confirm their fears that Sadie Cowl was indeed a witch. He hoped she was, because if she weren't, Sadie would suffer the same fate as their daughter.

Nathan tried to talk to the minister. He asked if he could apologize to the pastor's wife and daughter. He had already apologized to the pastor for Sadie striking the man, explaining the sudden loss of their daughter made Sadie out of her mind in grief, forcing her to do strange things. The minister guffawed, shaking his head no, he would not allow Nathan access to his wife and daughter.

In the evening Nathan brought what his wife requested to the jail delivering her meals. The jailor looked through the basket. Pieces of chicken, and bread. Her dinner covered in the cloth cut from clothes taken from Fedor's clothesline. In the basket, Nathan had woven the whiskers of a dead black cat, and some other things Sadie asked him to bring. He never questioned his wife, for he felt he was losing her. What harm was it to grant these wishes? He could only keep her happy for the week she was still here while she was awaiting trial. Nathan knew he would lose his wife in the same fashion as they'd lost their daughter.

"This town be damned," he thought to himself. Sadie's trial was a farce. The minister's wife and daughter acted as if Sadie had bewitched them. Little did they know Sadie's bewitching had only started. She'd made dolls from the chicken bones, and things Nathan had brought to her while she was in jail. As Sadie passed by the minister's wife, she plucked a hair from Mrs. Fedor and another hair from her daughter.

"Ouch!" they both jumped. Sadie had what she needed. From her pocket, she pulled the chicken bone dolls and began winding the women's hair—Mrs. Fedor's hair to one, and Brianna's to the other. The cat whiskers held the chicken bones together, and the cloth taken from garments on the Fedor's close line dressed the “dolls." As Mrs. Fedor took the stand, the Town Elder asked her questions.

"Mrs. Cowl struck my husband and cursed my family. My daughter and I suddenly went into paroxysms. They lasted the evening. Even now, I feel it about to come on." Suddenly Brianna clucked like a chicken. The people in the courtroom looked at her in shock. Sadie rubbed the bone, Brianna clucked again. Several people left the courtroom in fear. The Elder called for order to be restored. He admonished Brianna to sit quietly. Again, she clucked.

"You see your Honor, that woman has bewitched my daughter." Mrs. Fedor pointed to Sadie Cowl. As she pointed at the accused, Agatha Fedor's arm bent at an odd angle.

Sadie Cowl sitting in the accused chair on the stand, bent the chicken bone doll in her lap. Suddenly Agatha's arm snapped. She collapsed to the floor holding her arm to her chest.

"Witch," someone in the crowd shouted. Brianna clucked. The minister cried, "No," Several people stood around the threesome taunting. A few of the minister's neighbours fainted on the spot.

"NO," the minister shouted. The courtroom was in an uproar

"See the minister's wife is the witch, not my Sadie," shouted Nathan Cowl. The people were up in arms.

"Release Sadie Cowl" the Elder demanded. The bailiff twisted his key in the lock that chained her foot to the floor. Another man dragged the minister's wife to the front and locked her in Sadie's place. Brianna was also brought up to the front being held by the bailiff. The minister's cries were venomous, threatening, and blasphemous.

"A man of God speaks like this?" Said a farmer. The minister was also brought forth. Sadie and Nathan ran out of the courtroom during the distraction. They went home packing their things. They were leaving the village, who was now poisoned by fear and superstition.

As the wagon with their earthly treasures rolled by the water, Pastor Henry Fedor, his wife Agatha, and daughter, Brianna had been thrown in the lake, tied to stones that weighed them down. The three were hopelessly trying to swim against the weight. They would come up for air when they could.

"Witches!" the crowd shouted. Sadie put her head down as they rode by, unable to look at the drowning family, knowing their daughter had suffered the same fate. She threw the chicken bone dolls into the water, watching passively as the minister and his family sank to the bottom for the last time.



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