The witch was dead. I could see the piles of ashes, bones, bits of flesh, still smoldering in the town square. Her heart-wrenching screams had carried across the small town as the flames first licked the hem of her dark dress, then climbed higher and higher, burning, blistering, devouring. Finally she fell silent and I could breathe again, but my tears didn’t stop.
I wasn’t crying for that evil woman. Her death was hideous and painful, no doubt, but she deserved to be tied to the stake, to be burnt, make no mistake. She was a witch, not a healer, not a wise woman. She ruined Farmer Brown’s crop and caused Sissy’s cow to go dry. Yes, she gave Alice the love spell, but look at Alice’s life now, married to that oaf who beats her religiously, three rotten children who never give her a moment’s peace.
And my dear Geoffrey. He has waded out of the water to join me on the bank. His feathers are sleek and white, his neck long and graceful, a beautiful bird. I reached down and gently stroked his head. He looked up at me briefly, but I saw less and less of the man I had known in hie eyes. He was the swan now, not a man trapped in a swan’s body. And the witch was dead. The spell would never be reversed.
I gestured toward the water and watched as he floated gracefully away. Just beyond the bend I knew his mate waited. I smile sadly, tasting the salt on my lips. This fall he will fly south with her, and I’m not sure he’ll remember me when he returns in the spring. As it should be. He’ll be happy, which is all I want now. Before that woman met him, wanted him, before he refused her, I had planned to spend my life with him, loving, laughing, dreaming. First, she stole my future, then the villagers stole my hope.
I walk back to my cottage, with its thatch roof in need of repair, the pair of goats out back nibbling on the grass. I entered my dark home, the embers in the hearth glowing softly, sit on the stool and bury my head in my hands. Alone.
Today is “L.” I did use my L work once in my flash- love. But the love I was really thinking of was how the narrator loves Geoffrey. The A to Z Challenge is hosted at its own blog.
Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.