Atop a platform in a field of marsh and green a dwelling stands against the test of time and as I found it long ago, lost in another time and place. It seemed to me as if it had been forgotten and abandoned long ago by the original inhabitants of the dwelling, but too it seemed as if it were holding that small secret that needed to be opened. I had thought to myself of that cold and damp location, it sent shills up my spine but still gave hope to me as if I were the only one to be able to break the curse that it held on itself and nay once be occupied again by that of the living and breathing.
Lumbering up the quarter mile road that was dark and growing darker per pass, I spied the dwelling standing there in the field numerous times on occasion. The carriage drawing me nearer and nearer as if the horse drawn buggy knew that the place was to be mine while alive and with each crack of the whip, I was able to divert their eyes from there. As such a longing continued to grow with me and learn more about the why and who and the what, the what being the biggest question of them all.
I will say that upon the finding of the “what” and of the “why”, I was surely amazed at the dilemma at which I was to succumb to. The old owner’s only surviving daughter was that of an elderly woman, aged in years and yet still had that youthful shine to her, her lips were that of rosemary and her eyes sparkled in the misty morning as if tiny dew drops had been placed there each time, I had seen her or just by chance able to call on her. She always seen me in the same attire, and though thinking it strange, it was easily noted that this single wardrobe was all that this poor woman owned. The sparkling emeralds and gold leaf that adorned her red stained dress looked to be of another time and place, as to say that either she was once of a wealthy status and clung onto that with her remaining days, or that she just enjoyed the idea and fascination of being from someplace else altogether, as such, in our long talks that we were becoming accustomed to I took it upon myself to one day ask her of the Hill and how it came to be the wasteful appearance that I see as I pass by, in response she never once gave a scowl or evil-eye as one would think as to pry into her life and livelihood from time before, instead her eyes seemed to once more have that magical glow about them as they do on the mornings eve when she and I would walk through the central park nearby the square, she looked at me as if I would understand all things and in all manner as she began to explain:
“Sir,” she would begin all conversations this way, “I must say that it is very bold of you to take on such tidings at your age.” A small smile came upon the woman’s aging face and it seemed as though a few of the once more prominent lines that held it in place were becoming more distant or fading, if that would explain better, “The Hill, or as the simple folk here refer to it as, Witch Hill, is where my family met the one being that gave us all the things imaginable and with all the enlightenment from ages past and present, he gave unto us a life that we would not have had otherwise and as such we gave bounty to the man every night as if it were but a rite and ritual to thank the man who was able to set us free from the burden of owing and in that freedom we gave back to those who sought out our cause. Then as we grew older we had discovered the fate designed for us, as such there was once a large section to the northwest corner and another to the southeast where we had grown Lillies and Sunflowers all the year, and this was in honor and tribute for the man that was not a man but an angel whom kept us from bondage and dared not once keep it to ourselves as he had asked of us to allow all who wanted to see and be to join us in the merriment and festivities.
“It was but year four when the disaster stuck us as the Rebellious War took hold, we were trapped and those freemen and women, families young and old who were living and sharing all things with us, from food to bed, there was no safe place for them except the land that we had. It was like that of a sign from above as the battles were fought all around us. The balls that were fired mini and debilitating we watched as each man would fall. Rushing out to help them, as were our nature, we were not once wounded physically, but our will to help faded. Upon a retrieval of a young Private Remy, who we thought was too badly wounded to hobble on his own, as such, I ran out to him from the spot behind the tree line where I hid from the muskets of men and once the clearing sound and the drums faded for a moment, I took my chance to save him. He had a queer look to his face and asked if I were an angel from on high as he had never seen such a beauty as myself and then wiped the tear from my right eye, to this day I still feel the warm and tenderness of that moment, but sadly it was the last touch I had of a man until you, good sir, took my by the arm as we walked and talked through the square.
“That time before you was the last, it was when I began to move him and bring him back behind line he began to turn and change. He called it the Danger Line and begged me not to take him there, saying that if I had any pity on him, I were to have let him die there. The queer response from his lips to one trying to save him but then he explained that the men that have been here before having not once been seen alive or dead again. No bodies to turn up, not even a name of said person, it was as if they no longer existed nor ever had for any who knew them in life forgot them instantly as they crossed the line and as he was protesting as we inched closer to the line where I hid, he talked of his wife Mildrid and daughter Charlette, then of a new born son a month old, as I recall it, whose name was Bartholomew and of one other that was born still, he begged me to release him in saying that he would rather die then be saved by the witch that I am, saying harshness to me and in that way I released him from my hand. I watched the life drain from him as the last ounce of my breath could hold, then the sounds of the drums returned louder and louder as the marching men groaned.
“I ran back to the line where the trees parted and waited there for them to see his body lying there, but none did, it was as if he was not there, or ever would have been. No man looked my way and the women that were shapely exposed looked, but pretended I was not there. A small wave from their hands as they danced amongst the men and rank, as I watch the tents being raised and fires stroked to life, I watched as those women played. I seen the dance of ages, the dance for play, then I seen each man take hold of one and each time they were brought away. The sounds from the camp were of a monstrous cry and triumph seemed to be in their eyes. The women then came upon me one by one and asked if I wanted a man of my own and I could have my choice. I heard an exclamation from some man with a beard, long black and shaggy, but dressed in grey head to tow and another man in blue, the blue man said nothing, the grey screamed at them loudly. Shouting to them in a warning way that those whom cross that line go away for all eternity and none know their name.
“It was odd, I would say, that the women seen me and were able to speak and the men who were fearless and strong and that of will and mind, feared my tree line and me, as I had thought. It was then that the man that had saved my father four years prior rose up from the field where the Lillies were planted and then the feeling that I felt as I also seen in the eyes of the women before me were of scandalous thoughts and that of jealousy, yes, that creature, I once knew him well, it was then that the garment I wear upon me all the time was placed and then I was captured as well. The men all stood still as this man who was not walked to me and the girls that were near, he whispered in their ears and kissed my cheek. It was then that the forest around me was set ablaze for fear that the man was an evil spirit, and I was his slave, and as such I was the one responsible for corrupting the girls that were called “HOOKERS” and thrown from my place of hiding and was forced to watch my woods burn. I cried not once and though the torment was great, I dared not give the satisfaction to the men who knew not their place. It was then that I was beaten with a stick and willow limb, then my womanhood broken open by countless of them.
“From there I rectified that all men there be cursed and for the women who did nothing, their lineage would be worse. They had all accused me of witchcraft and seduction and taught me what my actions required to remedy the course. As a monster I was and had to be then, I spoke to them all that my curse would not end. I told them this and the planed laid in full, I told one woman how to break the curse. I had found out the night when I laid on the ashes of my once forgotten home and tree line that she was the only one to try and stop the men and their wrongdoings. She too was beaten and bloodied. Her lips were large and gangly, her eyes swollen shut, her scars left for all to see, her body was that of terrible nature and to her I gave my last, I healed her with the last ounce of energy that I had. I wrote her this note and placed it in her hand and as I drifted off to sleep in the centerfold of the house where my bedroom once was, I found upon awaking that this place where we are now was my new home. The woman cared for me and shown me the ways of the world and allowed me to live here with her and go to the Hill and recycle my will. She was late home one morning from a night where money changers handled her affairs and upon searching for the dear woman, I found none who knew her name.
“I walked home to where we had the shack and made it more than all I could and used all that I had. We are sitting here talking about my past and I believe that you knew this woman who now has never been or was nor will be again until the curse is done.” Her lips quivered with delight at her thought, and I sensed a notion that this poor woman was nearing the last, I took her hand into mine and kissed it as if she were mine and told her my story and kissed her gently on the lips and said that I had missed her ever so much and told her how wrong that I had been. For I was that Private that she thought was slain, I told her then that I never aged and that her love kept me safe. I wanted to show her the wound that she healed and that of my son who was once born still. She waved me off and said not to tease an old hag, and then I handed her the vile that she told no one about which in turn gave me the life I had lived and offered it to her and we then, she and I could walked the Lillies and Sunflowers again, that we together could walk hand-in-hand.
Without a thought in her mind she took the vile and smashed it upon the floor and said that she had lived enough and implored me to stay while she said her final salutations to all in her care, but that was the last thing spoken from her and I was alone again.
It has now been a ten-year wait to tell of this and in hopes that someone out there upon reading this letter to the editor of the New England Press that the daughter I once had and the son I never knew would find me in the refuge of Witch Hill.