The Three Worlds of the Witches
Delia’s’ mother was putting her coat on her ‘no not your coat ma, you love that coat. Ma, do you think I’m bad ma? Do you? Oh please....’
‘Come now child you must be brave and stay strong and god willing we will all be together again one day. Just keep praying for that. Now it’s time to go. And remember they may chase you, they might come after you understand? Be on the lookout and don’t let them catch you.’
Mortence led her daughter out of the house amid weeping and protests from the other children. Tom handed her his skinning knife and squeezed her hand as she took it. ‘I don’t believe any of it. Don’t let ‘em catch you sister, but if they do don’t let 'em take you.’
Delia broke out in fresh sobs as she felt the cold air hit her, it would be dark, and freezing cold in the forest tonight. She was glad of the moon at least. She turned to her mother ‘why mum? Why are they doing this? Why do they call me a witch and what is wrong with witches anyway?’
Delia could feel something altogether foreign rising in the pit of her stomach. It went beyond anger; fury would better describe what she was feeling now. She had to push down hard on it.
‘Don’t talk that way daughter. Come you must hurry, your uncle Fred has gone back to town, it would be just like him to incite those damn villagers to come tonight after all. Run child, down to the river at the bottom of the field and follow the map your father gave you. Go with God and never forget who you are. Never forget who you are.’
Delia felt a push in her back and she stumbled forward, her legs were shaky. She lurched onward past the back yard and into the field. She loved the smell of the cows. She heard her mother sob and ask her to forgive her. The next thing she heard was the door closing behind her. Delia thought she would die from the pain in her chest.
Instead she walked on one foot in front of the other until she reached the river and there she stood looking into its muddy depths and wondered. She could just fall forward and all this would be over. She didn’t know how long she stood there for.
Finally, Delia straightened her shoulders and turned to walk along the river as she was told. After all, wasn’t that what Delia always did? As she was told. The pain she felt in her heart would be enough to turn the mind of the strongest man but Delia’s mind was on survival and she didn’t like her chances much.
Finding her way through the cold dark woods to her aunt’s house would be hard enough without an angry mob after her. She had seen what angry mobs could do. She slipped her hand into her pocket and felt the smooth handle of her brothers’ skinning knife which brought a stabbing to her heart and a thought to her head. She doubted she could kill herself with it.
And what of her Aunt? She knew nothing about her except that she had married a tailor and was quite well off. Apparently her husband made suits for gentlemen. Gentlemen huh! She knew what gentlemen were, grubby minded whores who were no better than… Delia stopped, I must stop this she chided herself but she could feel the anger in the pit of her belly again. And with the anger, the pain subsided. So Delia let herself get angry and stay angry as long as it took to survive the night.
She trudged on into the night, thoughts tumbling around in her head bad thoughts terrible thoughts of vengeance and retribution. Her retribution on them. ‘I’ll get even with those damn villagers if it takes me forever.’ She vowed silently and didn’t apologise for the language.
Delia didn’t know how far she’d gone when she saw the first hint of daylight in the eastern sky. ‘Thank God’ she cried. She’d been wondering about God during the cold night to. What sort of God would allow this to happen? But that sort of thinking got you no where she told herself. She might be the one on the run now she vowed, but that would be for the last time.
Delia considered, as it got lighter and warmer, resting for a while but then decided against it. She would keep going she decided and she would outrun these damned villagers. She walked all morning stopping only to drink from the cool waters of the river. Her only other stop at noon when she ate a small amount of the food after which she continued on along the river. The thought of revenge driving her on and the hope of returning to her family and life on the farm.
The countryside was beautiful but she was too sad to enjoy it. The winter was giving away to spring and the wildflowers were already showering the fields with a brilliant splash of colour, all the colours of a rainbow and then some she’d always thought. The birds sang as they worked furiously on their nests and everywhere small animals darted about showing no fear of Delia whatsoever.
As the sun was setting she came to a great oak tree with a trunk as big as some houses. She looked up to its high branches some which were big enough for two people to lie on side by side. Without another thought she started to climb, up to the first fork and on to the next. Delia was an excellent tree climber.
When she reached the second fork she was pleased to note that it was quite big enough for her to lie in comfortably without fear of falling. And it was high enough up in the leaves to be hidden from the ground. Delia covered herself with the small rug and then she slept. High up in the arms of an old oak tree and dreamed of a small house a large family and happier days.
There she slept until the sun’s rays brought with them the nightmare that her life had become. She sat and put her rug away and ate a little more food. She had a piece of bread with cheese and a boiled egg, the rest was repacked and she climbed to the ground.
Delia set off at a brisk pace, she worried about how long she had slept and whether or not the villagers pursued her. She followed the river for some hours until she felt week. She decided to stop for a spell in a thicket of bushes where her legs collapsed beneath her and she passed out.
When Delia next woke up she was burning hot and went straight to the river to drink. Her head throbbed and her throat was burning. But she knew she must go on. She stood up and lifted her pack to her shoulders and went on, one foot in front of the other. She stopped numerous times for a drink.
Just as the sun was about to set in the west Delia come to the fork in the river. She was glad she had to take the right fork as it meant she didn’t have to cross. So with a sigh of relief she went on all the while on the lookout for a good place to camp. Soon she came to a thicket of bushes and crawled into it. She wrapped her rug around her and was asleep in seconds.
She slept fitfully, her head hurt and her throat burned and she was feverish. She woke many times shivering and pulling her coverings tighter around her. She was troubled by terrible dreams. Dreams of witches flying about the sky watching the villagers chase her with torches. She tried to fly but she could not, she tried to hide but they found her. On and on went the tormenting dreams, beseeching the witches cursing the villagers.
When Delia opened her eyes to the morning light she breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Thanks be to God’ she muttered as she made her way to the river to drink. She set off after a quick bight to eat, following the river; she vaguely remembered the fork in the river was behind her.
The powerful story of a young girl who stands accused of being a witch.Forced to leave her home and family and flee from an angry mob, Carmelia finds herself in the forest alone, frightened and cold. Carmelia also finds an iner strength that she didn’t know she had.
She outruns the mob who is hell bent on burning her only to succumb to fatigue and fever before she reaches her aunts house. As she lays down her head unable to go on she passes into a deep slumber.
When she wakens she finds herself in a very strange place inhabited by very strange beings. Unbeknown to her she is about to embark on a remarkable and epic journey.
About the Author
Rosanna Mary Hoppo 2011
Born Rosanna Mary Seaton in Pemberton WA.The daughter of a rabbit trapper (returned war hero) she grew up travelling all over Australia. She was educated to high school standard doing correspondence (school of the air). Along with her sister Judith Seaton was taught by their mother Maida.
At age fourteen she was sent to boarding school in Broken Hill and left school at end of year twelve. Growing up in the great Australian outback her parents’ based themselves out of Tibooburra and this she adopted as her home town. She married in South Australia and all her children were born in that state. Rosanna went on to become a tdriver until she could no longer do it and thebecame a security guard and worked up on the Olympic Dam mine. She started writing in her late forties.