Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Fickle Finger of Fate

I did a writing exercise with a new friend of mine where we wrote different stories using the same prompt. The prompt was "Write about the fickle finger of fate" and let me tell you, I had a heck of a time doing that. It took me three times and a small idea from Don to finally get the story. I haven't been doing much creative writing, so this is just the oil on my rusty creative writing joints. I hope you enjoy it anyways. I might finish the other two ideas I started and post them as well and see which one people like better.
The Fickle Finger of Fate

It was the fickle finger of fate that has gotten me here. It tore me from my house, away from my Ma and Pa and tied skin tearing ropes around my wrists. The fickle finger of fate beckoned me out of the caged wagon that I had seen so many other guilty women in before and lead me to the lake. But I am not guilty. I am not a witch. I am innocent.

It was the fickle finger of fate that brought Jonathan and I together. It was the Sunday that I had forgotten my bible. As I heard Pa bring the wagon to the front of the house, I prayed to God. “Dear God, please don’t let Pa notice that I don’t have my bible.” I frantically searched in the ground around my father’s work shop for something that looked square enough to hide my secret.

“Abigail!” I heard my mother call. My toe hit it first and I bent over to pick it up. It was wide enough to look like a bible under my skirt. I hid it in the pocket of my apron and ran across the field and joined Giles in the back of the wagon as my Ma sat next to my Pa in the front. I slid the piece of wood further into my pocket and felt my he art pound as Pa looked back at me. His moustache twitched as he looked down at my pocket. “Dear Lord, please don’t let Pa know I lost my bible. I will promise to be more careful and keep your word close to my heart as you have asked me to and never lose it.” I knew Pa would give me twice the lickings if he knew that I had substituted the bible for a log.

God answered my prayers and Pa looked away, hitting the horses’ backs with his reigns and encouraging them with a clicking noise. My feeling of relief lasted briefly as we made our way to the church. The rocking of the wagon churned the nerves in my stomach. The entire congregation would judge me as a heathen if I pulled the log out of my pocket and put it on my lap as if it were the bible. I would bring shame to my Pa and receive even more lickings. I began to regret looking for the log and began to curse the devil for planting the idea in my head. But cursing Satan wouldn’t replace my bible in my apron pocket.

When we arrived at the church, there were few wagons there. My Pa insisted on coming to church early to show God and Pastor Howland how pious he and his family were. This had worked to my advantage, giving me enough time to linger and rid myself of the cursed log. After Pa tied the horses to the fence and Ma gathered little Giles in her arms, I remained sitting. Pa gave me a stern look, waiting for me to get up and follow him. His stern eyes almost made me drop my confession and log into his hands, but the memory of the last beating I received for forgetting to milk the cows kept me silent.

“Sir, the ride today left me feeling sick. May I please take a minute to try to catch my breath?” I was finally able to say, however nervously. I did feel sick, but not from the shaky wagon ride I take every Sunday. I felt pale and hot and I must have looked this way for Pa nodded his permission. I watched him walk until I was assured that he was inside the church.

I looked around to see if there was anyone around. I did not see a soul. I pulled the log out of my pocket and looked at it. It was an imbecile thing to do. Pastor Howland would surely ridicule me in front of the entire congregation and make an example of me to all the other kids in the town. I knew I would never be able to live it down. God would never forgive me.

“Is that a log in your pocket?” a voice said, causing me to jump and drop the log. It was not my father, but it might as well have been.

“Good Morning Jonathan” I nodded my head down, both out of respect and to hide the blush on my face and the beating of my frightened heart. As I kept my eyes on the floor, I watched as Jonathan Howland’s hand came into view from my bonnet and picked up the log at my feet.

“What in the good lord’s name are you doing with a log Abigail?” the Pastor’s son asked me.

“I-uh…” I stammered, not able to come up with a very quick excuse. I knew I was done for. Jonathan would surely tell his father and he would never talk to me. He was 3 years older than me and out of school already and had barely talked to me before, but I did not want him ignoring me.

All of a sudden I heard him laugh. It started off small and turned to a sweet, jolly chuckle. I listened for a second with my head still bowed. I looked up and he was shaking his head and chuckling at me with the most beautiful smile on his face. I had never known how beautiful his smile was until it was directed at me.

“You are a strange little girl Abigail,” He said. I quickly bowed my head and began to race away when he stopped me.

“I think you dropped this.” I was expecting to see him holding out my log, but instead he held out a bible. I didn’t ask any questions, I kept my head bowed and took the bible from him and hurried back to the church. Later during the service, I saw him looking at me. When he caught my eye, he gave me a mischevious smile. I quickly turned away, but slowly turned to look at him again and managed to return a small smile.

The fickle finger of fate is a cruel child playing with its toys, for without my bible, Jonathan and I would never have become friends. It was also a piece of evidence used against me in my trial.

The fickle finger of fate put that stone in my hand. The fickle finger of fate pointed the way, straight to Martha’s head. She was a friend. But she was also a witch. All the girls said so. They claimed on God’s Word that Martha had danced naked, then forced them to dance naked to call up the devil to help her farm. One girl even confessed that Martha was going to sacrifice her. How could those girls lie? They were confessing in a church. They swore to our Heavenly Lord to tell the truth. They weren’t lying. Martha was a wicked, wicked witch who made a pact with the devil every year so he would make her farm grow abundantly. She had sacrificed the girls that had disappeared over the years. Martha was a witch.

Everyone in town showed up to stone her. We must all come together to rid ourselves of the evil. The devil cannot defend himself against a crowd of God loving Puritans. My Pa forced me to come, my Ma told me that they were just stoning out the devil in her and that she would live. I hated the devil that lived in Martha, and I hated Martha for killing those girls and being a witch among such pure people. I picked up a rock and threw it at her.

The fickle finger of fate is an accuser, pointing out the hypocrites and traitors.

The fickle finger of fate moved Jonathan’s lips into that smile and made me fall in love with him. The fickle finger of fate caused him to tempt me. The fickle finger of fate led us to the pond in the middle of the night.

I had no idea we were going to the pond. I would have never said yes. Since a child I had been afraid of water. But he snuck to my house in the middle of the night and threw pebbles at my window. He beckoned me-the fickle finger of fate beckoned me- out to join him. We had become good friends and we talked a lot at church. I knew my parents wanted me to marry him. He was the pastor’s son, he was strong and pure, he was the perfect husband. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so mad at me sneaking out of the house if they knew I was going with Jonathan Howland. This is what I told myself as I grabbed my shawl and slipped out the back door.

“Where are we going?” I whispered to him.

“Shh, you’ll see.” He whispered back, almost sensuously. I knew that he wasn’t capable of the kind of passion I often dreamt he would have in my most wicked dreams, but I knew he was a good man and he would treat me good and he would give me many children.

It was quite a long walk in the dark and when we began to walk through the thick forest he took my hand. The walk seemed shorter after that since all I could think about was my hand in his.

Soon we were standing on the edge of the pond and in a flash he was taking off his clothes and stood there in his long johns. I was shocked and scared. I did not know if he intended to take me or make me swim, but both those options scared me. Despite my dreams, God would not approve of such actions between two unmarried people. And I refused to swim. Swimming scared me more than defying God.

Jonathan got very close to me. “Let’s go swimming Abby.” He whispered. It was the first time he called me Abby and for a minute I was almost convinced. But I looked at the water past his shoulder and stood my ground.

“No, God would not approve, our parents would not approve.”

“Our parents aren’t here,” he leaned his head down to look me in the eyes .

I backed away from his warmth and seduction. “But God is here!” I persisted.

He suddenly got annoyed. “Where was God when you left your house with me?”

I did not know how to answer that question. Where was he? He was far from my mind as I defied my parent’s and the church’s rules. Where was he now, when I was scared and guilty and wanted to go back home and get away from Jonathan and the icy water?

“I know you love me Abigail. We will get married. But I have to know you, and you have to trust me. Come into the water with me,” he said sternly. It was a different kind of stern than my father. It wasn’t the kind of stern that made me obey, it was the kind of stern that made me shiver with fear and know that obeying would be worst than not obeying.

“No Jonathan, I will do now such thing. I will not lay with you and I will not get into the water with you.” I tried my own stern voice but it came out as a squeak. Jonathan grabbed my wrist and began pulling me to the shore.

“No!” I yelled, but he didn’t stop. That was when I started screaming and panicking. I pulled with all my strength and hoped that I could match Jonathan’s. The pure fear in me pushed me and I finally released myself and pushed Jonathan away with all my strength.

“You harlot!” he called after me. “You will regret denying me you witch!”

I should’ve listened. I should’ve stayed and I should’ve apologized and told him about my fear. But instead I ran. I ran and I didn’t even know where I was running to. I had gotten lost but somehow managed to make it home in time to milk the cows.

It was the fickle finger of fate that condemned me for being pure.


“She told me to meet me at her house in the middle of the night and she wanted to go for a walk with me. She acted like she didn’t know where she was going and I ended up walking to the pond since I visit there so frequently. She then told me to take my clothes off and I had thought we were to go swimming. I took off everything but my long johns, and she got completely naked. I was ashamed to see her in that way since she is not my wife and I asked her to put her clothes back on but she didn’t. She moved closer to me and I backed away into the water for I was afraid of her seduction. I began to get into the water and she got very angry. When I asked her to get into the water she began to scream and speak in tongues about how the water will kill her. She attacked me but I managed to push her off of me and escape,”

“Jonathan Howland, do you swear upon the Lord’s word that Abigail James was possessed by the devil and that she has practiced witchcraft?”

“Yes sir, I do.”


It was the fickle finger of fate that they executed to death by drowning. It was the fickle finger of fate that nobody believed me, not even my own parents for why would the pastor’s son lie? It was the fickle finger of fate that a man I refused to do impure things with accused me of being a witch. It was the fickle finger of fate that twisted my innocent life around its finger like the rocks around my feet and chose my fate.

I was brought to the middle of the lake by two strong men, with rocks tied to my feet and wrists. I saw the entire town watching on, waiting to rid themselves of another evil. But I am not evil, I am Abigail Smith and I was to marry the pastor’s son, and I love God.

I will not kick and scream as they throw me to the bottom of the lake and watch to make sure I don’t resurface. For I will let the fickle finger of fate point to them and tell them all that I didn’t die the way they expected me to.

No comments:

Post a Comment