I know that that children don’t read fairy tales any more. Oh, they see the movies, animated, sweet ones with helpful birds and talking raccoons, problematic ones where passive young women simply sleep and wait for their princes to come. But those are made-up stories. The real stories, stories that have recurred time and time again, are far more brutal. Stepmothers, ordering their daughters’ hearts brought to them to eat raw. Young women, cutting off their toes to fit an idealized vision of female beauty. And these are just the romances!
I know for I have been alive for much of it. Not all, of course. These tales date back to the Ancient Greeks, and I’m not that ancient. Still, I have lived as a witch since my birth in 1652 and, as a teenager since I was one over three hundred years ago.
In that time, I have sought love. Once, I found it. But I have lost him time and time again. This story is about how I found love and lost it. I don’t know how it will end.
But it started in Salem, Massachusetts. I may, in previous accounts, have fibbed a bit when I said I wasn’t there. It is such a cliché to claim one was in Salem. But I was. Most of the women accused as witches there weren’t actually witches, but there were a few of us who were.
Or, at least, two.
“Flinn’s retold classic fairy tales will be enjoyed by fans of fantasy, historical fiction, and happily-ever-after love stories.” —Voice of Youth Advocates
“Overall, this is a compelling read for young adult fans of fantasy and light romance. The unique use of settings and narration style will keep readers intrigued till the last page” —School Library Journal
Excerpt from Beheld
Witches and Wolves
I might not have stayed in Salem, had it not been for James. I might have been safer. But I have never been one to court safety above all, and I wasn’t in 1692.
It was in 1692 that I fell in love with James.
Then, I had been alive close to two-score years, but like most magical beings, I did not look it. Nay, I did not feel it either. This was convenient, as few things in my life were, for appearing mature carries with it certain expectations – that the person will marry, have children, be mature. I wanted none of that, for few people were like I was. They would age. They would die, as my family had.
I would not, as long as I stayed clear of fire. Fire was the only thing that could kill a witch. Still is.
I knew not to play with fire.
I knew, also, not to play at love. Love would only lead to painful loss.
But then, I met James.
It happened one morning, early, so early that my breath was a silver cloud on night black as my cloak. I was out chopping wood for the family’s needs. I was a servant, but the Harwoods were not wealthy, so I was rather a maid-of-all-trades – chop the wood, darn the socks, watch the babes. It rather reminded me of life with my own family, back when I had one.
That morning, the spring breezes had not yet chased away the winter cold, but I was warm for I was working. Goody Harwood kept a close watch on me, so I could not use magic. Not all the time, anyway.
If you think I was working like the mature woman I should have been, you do not know me well. I was slim as a girl. Every swing of the ax was a herculean effort. I had been out close to an hour and had only two bone-thin logs to show for it. I knew that soon, she would be there, spying for me, accusing me (not incorrectly) of malingering. I had to move quickly.
I picked up the ax.
Just as I did, a black shape crossed my vision. Bird!
This was enough to make me stop again. The birds had left for winter and, thus far, had not returned. And this was no robin redbreast, but a crow.
I had a history with crows.
I examined the bird. It was a large bird with a yellow bill. It flew around me just above my head and finally, settled on the very log I had been about to split.
I laid down my ax, sighing as it sank into a snowdrift. My hands were bare, and would surely freeze when I reached in.
I shooed the bird.
It did not move. Nor the second nor third time either. It merely stared with its black bead eyes, as if it intended to speak.
Finally, I reached for the ax. The blade was frozen. I meant to swing it just once.
When I rose, the bird had disappeared.
Not entirely pleased at the end of my excuse for idleness, I returned to my chopping.
A voice interrupted me, startled me.
I whirled to see where it came from for I had been sure I was quite alone.
“Your humble servant,” someone said, and he bowed.
He wore black, at least what I could see, from the toes of his shoes to his hat. With his face thus obscured, he might have been any man I had seen before, any man in Salem, farmers beaten down by the winter’s struggle, old before their time.
But when he rose, I knew I had never seen him before.
I would have remembered.
The man staring back at me was beautiful in an unearthly way with hair the color of fallen pine needles, skin that had never known harsh sun or harsher winter cold and eyes a shade bluer than the bluest ocean. He was perhaps two years older than I – meaning two years older than I appeared, so still in the bloom of youth, tall and strong.
I hesitated. I wanted his help as much to keep him there as to get out of my work. But neither motive was proper for a girl my age, a girl any age in Salem. I glanced around. No signs of life anywhere except the trickle of smoke from the chimney. I had built a fire when I’d risen. With any luck, the Harwoods would gather by it and Goody Harwood would not come looking for me when she needn’t.
I nodded, trying to pull my gaze down like a proper young lady.
“If you please,” I said.
He moved closer and, at first, I started at his nearness. Then, I realized he meant to take the ax from me. I held it out to him, my arm trembling a bit from the effort.
I saw him notice and his gaze upon me made me tremble all the more, but no longer just my arm. My entire body quivered. I pretended it was the cold.
I knew it was not.
He took the ax, brushing each of my gloveless hands with his own. They were warm, but still, I shivered, and I sunk a bit when the weight was removed.
I glanced up, for he was very tall, and when I did, I saw him smile.
I looked down.
“There now.” He spoke with a bit of an accent, from Scotland. “You are too young and too lovely for such hard work.”
I looked down harder, more because I knew it was proper than because I wanted to.
He was so handsome that it was difficult not to look.
“I am not as young as you might believe.” I backed away.
“Nor am I.” He made no move to chop the wood. “And I know things. Have you heard about what is happening in Salem?”
I did know. At least, I thought I did. I had heard the rumors of children bewitched by demons. But I did not want to admit that it concerned me. If he did, he might suspect how much it did. And why.
So I said, “I know little. I spend my days and nights just as you see me and my Sundays in worship.”
The left corner of his mouth came up as if to call me on this lie. “Like any God-fearing young maiden.”
I nodded. “Of course.”
He nodded, half-gravely. “Then I should tell you. It happened in town, at Reverend Parris’s house. His daughter, Betty and niece, Abigail have been behaving . . . bizarrely.”
I had heard it. Young girls barking like dogs, writhing and crying out as if in pain. I had not done it. Nor were there any other witches in these parts. Perhaps there was a fungus in their flour. Perhaps they just wished for attention. But I knew better than to say that.
“I see.” I managed a nod.
“But did you know that in Boston four years ago, a young woman was stricken with similar symptoms?”
Aye. I had heard something of that.
I shook my head.
“She was, and a woman named Ann Glover was hanged as a witch based upon the suspicion that she had enchanted the girl.”
“What has this to do with me?” I asked. “Why are you telling me this?”
I had stood out too long with too little work, and now, my body was cold, so cold it felt as if the bones might snap.
His words did nothing to warm me. “Because it concerns you, Kendra.”
“Why?” How did he know my name?
But then, I heard the creek of the opening door. I whirled to make my excuses to Goody Harwood, but she smiled.
“Oh! I thought to hurry you along. The fire is waning, and you must make the breakfast still. But I see you have been harder at work than I suspected. I suppose I couldn’t hear the thuds for the gusts.”
As if to answer, the wind whipped through me, ruffling my hair. I turned away.
Goody Harwood had not mentioned the man who was there, and when I turned, I saw why. He was gone, gone as if he had never existed. But in his place was a cord of neatly-stacked logs. A crow set atop them.
I took a shaky breath. I felt about to choke. “I will be but a moment longer.”
Another gust shook the branches, and she shut the door against it.
When I turned back, the wood was still there, and the man. I had not imagined it, any of it.
“How did you . . . ?” A thousand questions leaped to mind, but I completed the one I had started. “How did you know?” My name? That I was a witch?
“I knew because I knew. James Brandon, at your service.”
“I have to go inside, sir.”
“Nay.” His blue eyes were intense now. “You should leave Salem, and quickly. This place is not safe. For you. For any of us. But I will stay and see it out, to protect innocents. You should protect yourself.”
Did he mean to say that he was a witch – a wizard – himself? I wanted to know and yet, my need to flee him was stronger. “I have to go inside, sir. The family will wonder about me. I have to make the breakfast.”
He gathered some of the wood and brought it to me. As he did, he met my eyes, and for a moment, the wind ceased and the air became first warm, then hot around me until I felt like I might burn through the drifted snow and not be unearthed until springtime.
“Then I will see you soon, Kendra,” he said. “I will see you every day until you agree to leave. Now go inside.”
I could not turn away from him easily, but I made myself. I had great experience in taking leave of people. I reached for the doorknob.
“One other thing.” His voice interrupted me. “Beware of wolves.”
I turned to stare at him, but when I did, he wasn’t there. In his place black crow, staring at me with bright eyes.
It flew away.
The wind began to howl again and did not stop until I was inside the house.
This is similar to how modafinil works where you can find out more via modafinilonline365.com on how modafinil works