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Authors: Brynn Chapman

Tags: #Romance, #Time Travel, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Historical, #Romantic

Where Bluebirds Fly

BOOK: Where Bluebirds Fly
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Where Bluebirds Fly

 

by

 

Brynn Chapman

 

 

Where Bluebirds Fly

 

Copyright © 2012 by R. R. Hochbein

 

Produced in the United States of America, all rights reserved.
 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any form or any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by an information storage and retrieval system, except for reviewers who may quote brief passages.

 

All characters are from the author’s imagination and have no relationship to anyone bearing the same names, save actual historical figures. They are not inspired from anyone known or unknown to the author and all incidents are pure invention.

 

Publisher: R. R. Hochbein

Kindle Edition
 

 

Acknowledgements

 

Writing may seem solitary…but when one is associated with the right group of people—it’s nothing short of joyous.

My thanks to: MV Freeman, DT Tarkus, Robin Kaye and Marlo Berliner, Marcella Rose, Cathy Perkins, Hope Ramsay and Grace Burrowes.

Everyone at
Blame it on the Muse
, YARWA and especially Amy Atwell and her
WritingGIAM
sites. And Victoria Lea, for all her editorial guidance.

I’d also like to thank Ginny Crouse and Ralfe Poisson for assisting me with an accurate portrayal of Truman and Verity’s
 
synesthesia.
 

 

Dedication

 

For Jason: the best hearts partner around. Do not listen to them. We HAVE beaten them.

 

*finger can-can kick

 

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

 

— Judy Garland

 

Chapter 1

 

19th January 1692

Salem, Massachusetts
 

 

Some sounds you cannot forget.

They stay with you always, becoming part of you. They are as familiar as the creases lining your palms.

Some say what the eyes see, imbeds forever in our memories.

But
sounds
fill my head, late in the night, in my mourning hours-three refuse to die.

The sound of my mother’s laugh.
Low and resonant, like the church bell’s peal on Sunday morn. To think on it too much would call madness into my soul. How that voice could lift me out of the blackness in my head and heart, threatening now to snuff the dwindling light of my hope.

The sound of my mother’s screaming.
It follows me down the path to sleep. Stays with me. My mother’s hair, in blond waves, hangs loose from the Indian’s pouch alongside my father’s black and white locks. The gurgling, drowning sound in her throat tells me she’s going, where I cannot follow.

The crunching snap of Goody Bishop’s neck on the gallows’ noose.
The first to die under the charges of witchcraft.

No other visions of her remain, my eyes clamped shut at the sound.

My mother’s tight grip and wild eyes plead with me to ease her pain. The blood from her scalped head floods her eyes. She doesn’t blink it away. I think she knows she has only moments.
 

My little brother’s chest heaves up and down as he clings to my legs. He’s beyond horror—he’s mad with it. His guttural childish-moaning splits my attention, ever so slightly. I must pay full attention to mother.
 

“My Verity,” she croons. A crimson bubble of blood forms on her lips at the end of my name, and pops. “Do not forsake your brother, dear one. It shall not be easy. I love—”

John squeals like the devil himself has eaten his heart.
Perhaps he has
. My eyes flick up to behold the Indian. For a moment, compassion steals across his eyes, then they harden. He raises his tomahawk.

I reel at the revelry. My mind closes, my eyes slamming shut, refusing to relive the last seconds of my mother’s life.
 

The
memory
is so vivid I feel the world twirl. I step forward, shaking my head back to life.
 

Sounds of the Salem Streets rush back like a crushing ocean wave.

Something strikes my shoulder, and I open my eyes, blinking against the sun.

“Verity Montague, one cannot stop in the middle of the fairway, child.”
 

The goodwife’s eyes say what her mouth won’t allow.
 
You’re mad. Your brother is mad.
The rumpled lips betray her fear, and her pity.

My present world rushes back with such alacrity, I drop the apple I’ve so carefully chosen. It rolls away into the milling crowd, and I give chase.
 

There’s a tautness to the villagers; a thread of tension weaving through them. I see it in the hunch of my mistress’s shoulders, the squint of my master’s eyes.
 

My present, my responsibility, presses in. I hear my breaths, coming too quickly. Another woman notices, but her eyes quickly shift from mine.

A low drone of fret rises from my gut.
Not now. Go away.

I know my brother John be somewhere in the crowd; late again, and likely in trouble.

Ever since the day of the Indian raid, a thick panicked sound thrums—embedded in my thoughts, like a swarm of hornets. I battle it, so I can try to live my life.

For me, the panic is a living, breathing creature.
A second self.
 

It’s hot, unrelenting fingers flick across my cheeks, as if my childhood memories are making a mad dash to escape, seeping out the back of my brain.

“Witch!”
 

 
My stomach leaps.

I spin toward the crowd, eyes darting, searching.

Somewhere a bell tolls.

My heartbeat matches my breath; two warring children, competing for my attention. My clammy hands grasp my bundle closer.

Where is John?
Why can he never do as he is told?

You know why.
 

Because he is different from anyone I know. I am different, but I hide it. I
must
hide it.

I walk faster, dropping my eyes to the stares.

I mimic their countenance and cares, but inside, my heart
 
throbs to its own abnormal cadence.

I do not love as they love—and what they deem important makes me laugh. If I dare to allow these thoughts to slip from my tongue, it shall be
I
swinging on the gallows. Followed by John.

A thick crowd gathers in the town square. I rush forward, scattering a flock of crows.

I weave in between the bodies, searching, listening.

My fear grows, and I feel my sanity tilting; tugging me to the edge of a deep, wide precipice. Awaiting in its depths, be madness.


Witch!
Where is the constable?’
 

I cannot breathe.
Please, please, no.

The acccusations, again. They be after someone. I smooth out my face.

They must not know you fear.
Show no fear.

“Witch!”

Fingers invade the air. Old hens and young children, all assuming the same accusatory pose. Each point at the cowering old woman in the center of the mob.

 
A bedlam of emotions crosses old Rebecca Nurse’s face. Incredulity, anger, panic; then her twitching mouth finally chooses horror.
 

“Seize her! Examine her for the witch’s mark!” Constable Corwin arrives, along with a bitter taste in my mouth.
 

I cover my ears in pain. The screams and shouts are deafening. Urging from all sorts; young and old, rich and poor. Once the condemning-frenzy begins, the enchantment will remain, till at least one be accused.

“She be a witch!”

“I saw ’er familiar the other night in the barnyard!”

Goody Nurse’s tired, watery eyes open wide as the men approach. She freezes in mid-shuffle on the cobblestones. My stray, forgotten red apple rolls to a stop at her feet.

Her shaking hands pluck it from the earth.

Something clicks in my mind, like a rifle’s cock.
John is near.
My head swivels all around, searching for him.
I must protect him, they hate him.

The sides of my mouth spasm, breaking free of my mask.

I hear my mother’s voice.
Save him, Verity.

I must keep my wits, it means our lives.

I push my way through the crowd, hovering about the circle surrounding Rebecca Nurse. But my eyes keep returning to her.

I’m sick with helplessness. She doesn’t deserve what they are about to do. Her wizened, healing hands cured John last winter, when no one else could touch his fever.
 

“I am not a witch!” The old woman’s voice warbles, somehow drowning out the shouts.

The morbid fascination wins and I stand, transfixed, unable to look away.
 
I command my feet to shuffle backward, but like some horrid enchantment, I am rapt.

Rebecca’s crooked body trembles as Constable Corwin yanks her arm.

She cocks her head to the side. The old dear is hard of hearing, and is most likely only catching snippets of the hurled accusations. Their superstitious eyes fixate on her.
 

My heart weeps to protect her, but what can I do? An eighteen-year-old servant girl?

Who will speak for her?
 
Would they listen anyway?

“Your spectral self is accused of tormenting Anne Putnam, Jr., appearing by her bedside at night, beseeching her to sign the dark man’s book! How plead you, woman?”

“Not guilty.” Rebecca’s eyes are bold, but her old voice cracks on the final word.
 

Corwin’s eyes narrow.

“Oh, Goody Nurse,” I whisper.

The whirrs of whispered voices are like a conspiratorial swarm of bees, closing the circle on her.
Tighter. Tighter.

My skin itches with panic, I ball my dress into my sweaty, shaking hands; restraining myself.

The panic flows through the mob and I picture a beating heart—infusing the townsfolk with hysteria, powering the obsessive light in their eyes.
 

My mind rhymes, as it sometimes does, when I’m afraid.
 

Or insane. It’s hard to tell.
 

The word drips from everyone’s lips, the single condemnation…
witch.

Witch.

Witch. Then, like a chant, the whole frenzied mob murmurs as one.
 

“Witch.”
 

Two young women prattle beside me, shifting my gaze from Rebecca.

“Remember the old woman’s dispute with Reverend Allen? Over where his land ended and hers began? Do you think this be why she is accused?”

The girl looks to be about my age. She wobbles on her tiptoes, her cheeks flushing with effort as she peers over the thick crowd.

“What do you think is Goody Nurse’s familiar?” the other girl responds, too eagerly. Her greedy eyes shine with mischief, not fear.

Disgust rises in my nose.

“What is a familiar?” the terrified one asks, her gaze never leaving the mob.

“Why, it is how the witches travel. They take an animal’s form, and force it to do their bidding.” Her voice lowers, “One visited me last eve, a night bird
peck, peck, pecking
at my window. I think it was Goody Proctor.” She stifles the giggle with the back of her hand.

“Are you mad?” I cannot stay my tongue. “This be not a game. Townsfolk are dying! Swinging on gallows hill from lesser whispers! Did you not see Goody Bishop hang?”
 

BOOK: Where Bluebirds Fly
6.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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