All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The sea of anger opened up as the four girls were led forward, and before them stood four posts. Around each base towered a pile of wood, hugging the post in a pyramid fashion. Maggie froze, mind unable to catch up with reality as she stared at her funeral. The three women behind her paused as well, but Maggie didn’t know what they were thinking. Her cries racked up another level, and warm tears poured down her face. She stared at the men beside each deathbed, hands gripping the handles of torches as they stared back at her. Distantly, she could hear Alice begin shouting out curses again as the mob grew too close. Bridget and Mary remained quiet, but Maggie could have sworn she heard a faint, choked gasp come from behind her.
From the edge of the swarm came the priest and town leader. A cheer rose from the crowd as the two men stepped forward, and the ropes loosened around their waists before they were dragged separately to the burning piles. Rough hands seemed to grab Maggie at every angle, and she cried out as her struggling form was hauled away from whatever safety she previously grasped. The shouts from the angry rioters drowned out her cries and those of the other accused women. Her mind was in a haze as the world around her turned blurry with tears and anxiety. She could feel the bite of the rope digging into her stomach, and the wooden slivers in the post stabbing her back. Distantly, she could hear the constant roaring of the mob, but it was in the back of her mind as her chest grew tight.
In what seemed like a second, her limp body was molded with the column, and the men lit their torches. They stalked closer, like predators eyeing helpless prey, and the flames grew closer with every passing step. She shouldn’t show fear; Maggie knew this - had heard it said countless times as a child being warned of wild animals. But this was different. These men weren’t animals with only the thought of protecting their young. No, this fear was different. One of pride and unexplainable fear. She had done nothing evil - surely, creating a single butterfly for the purpose of cheering up her baby cousin wasn’t incomprehensible evil. But men fear what they don’t know, and kill that which they can’t understand.
A blinding light erupted in front of Maggie’s eyes, and she was forced to shut them tightly to block the hazardous flash. Her body tensed as she imagined what the fire must look like growing around her form, and she choked back a sob at the thought of what the other women must be going through. She waited for the heat to begin licking at her feet, and shuddered at the imagined pain.
What she received instead, though, was gasps of shock rippling from every person around her. After a few moments of utter silence and no injury, Maggie dared to open her eyes. She was surrounded by townsfolk who stared skyward, sight glazed over with varying emotion. It didn’t occur to her how dark it had become until she glanced up. Above her, by some unbelievable force of nature, was the galaxy. Or rather, not the entire galaxy, but a small version of what she see’s every night upon shutting her doors and windows. The expanse was black, and dotted with what could have only been thousands of sparkling lights. It was beautiful, and she was entranced.
The sound of hacking didn’t register to Maggie until she was falling forward, body toppling off of the wooden column and smacking into the packed dirt. A cry left her lips as she fell, but was soon muffled by the impact. Panting harshly, she jolted up from her position, eyes scanning wildly left to right in fear. Surrounding her, instead of the cruel hands she had been expecting, were the gentle faces of the women she was meant to be executed with. Soft palms lifted her up and dusted the dirt off her back, and the young girl nearly cried again at the turn of events.
Alice, the young woman with a fiery attitude and words of steel, placed her hands on the ropes that bound Maggie still. In an instant, the coarse material burned with a bright orange, and she couldn’t help but flinch at the sight. Yet the fire didn’t hurt, and she couldn’t feel the heat against her skin. Despite her curiosity, Maggie kept her eyes turned away, panic still coursing through her veins. With a slight tap on the wrist, Alice signaled that she was done, and Maggie made to look up. Three pairs of hands grabbed her head suddenly, forcing her vision to stay trained on the ground.
“Don’t look up, child,” The old voice filtered through her ears, and Mary’s face soon appeared, kindness written on every wrinkle. Gentle touches left her body, and Maggie missed the feeling of being grounded. “They can control you if you do.” She didn’t know who they were, and she didn’t want to find out.
As if on cue, the bodies of the townspeople around them dropping to the ground, like flies in the dead of summer. The women could only watch as people piled onto one another, their unblinking eyes staring at the hypnotic phenomenon. Soon, none were left standing but the huddle of four women, accused and nearly murdered by the hands of all those who stood helpless before them. Maggie couldn’t help but think, in the darkest corner of her mind, what would stop them from walking away from this. To simply leave these torturers at the mercy of whatever power decided to take them. It was a terrible thought, forbidden and unwelcome, and yet she did not banish it entirely.
“Well,” The three women turned to look at Bridget, who had remained quiet until this point, lending soft gestures and gentle hands instead of words, “I suppose it’s up to us to help them.” Maggie almost voiced her disagreement, and the others looked ready to as well until they saw the look upon Bridget’s face. Somehow, she had managed to find her husband among the mountain of limbs and was looking at him with what could only be guessed as desperation. In return, the women glanced around, too, latching on to the faces of those they love. In the heat of the moment, Maggie had been unable to see anything but the angry faces and spit flying with cruel words, and missed the people who looked sorry, or fought back against the crowd. Her own family was there, as everyone was required to be, and any thought of abandonment was dashed out of existence. With a new resolve of steel, she faced the small team.
“Alright. Let’s go.” Smirks slowly grew across faces, before wicked grins were directed skyward. Their hands grew alight with power as Maggie’s heart soared from her chest. Whether the town accepted them or not, she knew what she was, and knew her worth more than anyone could. Yes, she may be forced out of town in the future, but looking around, she knew that this small group of women would be there for her. Always.