It was dark, cold and raining outside. The wind howled through paper-thin gaps in doors and windows, the muffled sound of tree branches crashing to the ground joining it. Rain pelted on the roofs, seeping through the thatched roofs and into people’s homes. In other words, it was a regular winter’s night in the small town of Salem and in a basement tucked away from prying eyes sat three people. Two were children, young girls, and the third was an old, wrinkled woman with dark skin and a mad look in her eyes. She was in the middle of retelling an old tale that had graced her tongue hundreds of times before. Two of the children looked terrified, huddled next to the other two who were listening on in awe, soaking up the old hag’s words.
“Abigail, I’m scared.” One of the girls- the youngest- whimpered, pressing her face against another, older girl, “what if these stories are true?”
The elder laughed silently. “Don’t be silly, Elizabeth, they’re only stories.”
“Don’t call me Elizabeth. It’s Betty, and you know it.” Betty frowned, peering at the old hag (who was muttering to herself and giggling every now and then) cautiously. “Papa will be wondering where we are. Abi, why don’t we ever tell Papa where we go?”
Abigail frowned. “Because he’s not my Father, and you know he wouldn’t let me take you anywhere. I like spending time with you.”
Betty let her eyes wander as Abigail spoke, eventually landing on the hag, who was still muttering to herself. The hag seemed to feel Betty’s eyes on her and she snapped her head up, yellowed eyes glinting harshly.
“Tituba will tell you one more story!” She cackled, “Then young ladies may leave.”
Betty shrunk back, scared. She still wasn’t used to Tituba’s unexpectedness. Even after months of visiting her every week with Abigail to hear the same story of demons and sex and terrifying creatures that possessed you and killed you, she wasn’t used to it. It still scared her- all of it, but it pleased Abigail, and it meant she was away from her Father’s prying eyes, and so she dealt with it, even though she had nightmares every night they went.
And so she listened for another hour more, as Tituba prattled on with more tales of spirits and demons and witches, especially the ones that had been burned here.
And somewhere, not far away from the dark basement, Sarah Good walked away from another doorstep, muttering curses under her breath, and Sarah Osborne was lying in her bed, having previously watched her own children leave her, ten years after her husband did.