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Bloom of the Foxglove MAG
"Woyayafidee, the blooming foxglove is delicate and pure, woyaya fideedle deedledee," Abigail sang while tucking her golden ringlets back into her calicobow, the curls spilling over her right shoulder. A summer's breeze met her as shereached down to gather another feathery lavender flower. The sun had barely creptacross the horizon and the rest of the village had yet to witness the morning'sextravagance. A sparrow flitted from branch to branch before deciding to perch onAbigail's shoulder. She stroked the creature as she dreamt about the newday.
"It's never too early for a sweet," declared a confidentvoice. Startled, Abigail stumbled back, landing on a root. She peered up,spotting a large figure in the intertwining branches.
"What inheaven's name are you doing up there?" From the shadows emerged an awkwardbut warm smile belonging to Strat Johnson. He maneuvered himself down thetrunk.
"Why, Strat, have you gone mad?"
"Quitepossibly," he said with a chu-ckle. The boy's handsome face wrinkled into amischievous grin as he revealed a scarlet red apple from behind hisback.
"Thank you," Abigail replied shyly, reaching for the fruitand purposefully brushing against his hand. From the distance a school bellclanged, shattering the blushing silence.
"I'll wait for you in theschool yard," Strat said, his voice raising at the end in a question. Allcolor drained from her face as Abigail noticed a group of girls huddled together,darting venomous glares her way. One, Mary, pulled the girls closer as theyerupted into giggles.
* * *
"Children, dotake your seats," the teacher called. Whispers came from the girls behindher. She listened intently and managed to hear, "She is full ofconceit!" Abigail hung her head and struggled to blink back the tears sheknew were inevitable. Mary reached out and yanked the ribbon from Abigail'scurls, exposing her bare neck. An outcry came from the class as Abigail clawedthe desk fearfully.
"I knew it," hissed Mary, coolly steppingback. "Satan himself has possessed her," she announced, waving theribbon.
"She's got the mark of the devil," the teacher gasped,motioning the children out of their seats. Abigail curled her knees to her bodyand clutched her neck, but kept her gaze fixed on the desk beforeher.
"Witch, witch," the children shrieked. Abigail whippedaround, shocked to see a shy boy pounding his desk furiously. She rocked back andforth in her chair, sobbing.
"Witch, witch, witch," Marygleefully chanted, darting encouraging looks at her classmates. The frantic girlleapt from her chair and raced toward the door. The boys and girls parted, butone hand reached out for Abigail's arm. Strat's face was expressionless, and hisgrasp was limp as he muttered, "Meet me tonight by the apple tree, Ab-"
"Strat! You mustn't touch that evil girl," shriekedMary. Abigail rushed through the door, her teary eyes pierced by the sun'srays.
* * *
The room was silent except for theclinking of her mother's spoon as she stirred her tea. Abigail still weptsoftly.
"We should have tried to conceal it better ... we should have... this is all my fault," cried her mother. "That wretched birthmark,and that wicked Mary!" she wailed. Abigail's father gazed out the window,unable to look into his daughter's face, and grasp her certain future. The uneasysilence was shattered by a knock at the door. Mother dropped her teacup with agasp.
"Jonathon, we need a word with you," bellowed athreatening voice.
"This is not the time, Sir," replied herfather in an equally menacing tone.
"This involves the children. Idemand that you open this door!" Her father opened the door to a toweringman.
"You ... you ... evil child! You've haunted my daughter andopened the door to Satan!" he said, spotting Abi-gail. Abigail seemed in atrance, staring at the shattered china, studying the amber liquid creeping acrossthe
"I think you'd best re-treat to yourroom, Abby," her father advised. She obeyed, thankful to escape theintruder's cold, unforgiving face.
"My Mary left her shoes by herbed, and when she woke up, they were strewn about outside her window," ragedMary's father. Abi-gail wrapped her pillow around her head in a futile attempt tomuffle the voices. Visions of her classmates chanting haunted her mind. It's notfair, she thought, throwing fists into her pillow, because I'm different. Shetoyed with the image of Mary suffering just as she had, but forced the thoughtfrom her head. Abigail then peered at the night's sky, somehow finding comfort inthe shadows. Brushing the curtains aside, she hoisted herself onto thewindowsill. The moon glowed with a soft radiance. She felt the moist grass meether bare feet as she landed. Wind raced past as Abigail walked to the field.Every once in awhile she knelt to gather a few lavender flowers, gently placingthem in the pocket of her pinafore. She was disappointed to see the tree's lonesilhouette. As she came closer, she saw Strat peek around the massive trunk.
"I knew you'd come," Strat said, taking Abigail's hand, andlooking longingly into her face. "I promise, Abigail, I won't let anythinghappen to you." Abigail managed a slight smile, finding only temporarycomfort in his promise.
"Strat, it's all because Mary yearns for youraffection. Now what am I to do? Where am I to go?" Strat embraced her andheld her tightly.
Peering over Strat's shoulder she saw an army of lightsascending the hill. Abigail turned to run, but Strat held her firmly and said,"We need to face this."
The entire village marched toward thetree, waving their torches. The flames illuminated familiar faces, now full ofhatred. Mary's evil smile stood out. As they circled Abigail, closing in on theirprey, Mary pointed her finger and shouted,"Witch, witch, wi-"
"You must stop this insanity," Strat demandedforcefully, as he stepped in front of Abigail. "It is you who are possessed!Abigail is a kind girl whose heart is filled with love. Just last week she milkedMrs. Elkin's cows when the old woman was confined to her bed!" Strat spottedGiles Parris, a man who appeared to be rallying the others.
"Mr.Parris, she watches your children while your wife tends thegarden!"
"And you, Mary. She helped you study for the spellingbee, and now you accuse her of being a witch!" A hushed murmur swept thelandscape as people, one by one, lowered their torches. Mothers clasped theirchildren's hands a little more loosely. A ring formed around Mary as theattention shifted to her. Mary shook wildly, her eyes searching for a sympatheticface.
"No! You ... you've got to believe me!"
* * *
Abigail lay on her bed, tired. Hum-ming softly, she recalledthe flowers tucked in her pinafore. She retrieved a small bowl, and beganplucking petals.
"Woyaya fidee, the blooming foxglove is delicate andpure, but beware to those who instigate a stir." Abigail scooped a portionof the mixture into her palms and clenched her fists until her knuckles turnedwhite.
"This will make her pay," she whispered as a sneer spreadacross her angelic face.