On Pendle Hill


The old woman’s burnished eye added a stamp of theatre.  It rolled at all angles in its sagging socket, barely controllable.  Ugliness is a sign of guilt, the crowds mutter.  Poverty is a sign of sin.  Yet there was no shame in her then as she stared down her accusers, only that ancestral shame that harks back to the nest of vipers.

I’m no judge at heart.  I’m a patient man.  So I recorded the drivel she mouthed as she limped to her fate.  “All your praying is just fighting with shadows,” she hissed.  “Grow up, children, and accept your vulnerability.”

Then we drowned her in the fountain.  Then we drowned her cat.


This piece of flash fiction was written in response to the Wordle Challenge #29 at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where all stories in the link-up were prompted by the wordle at the top of this post.  The rules are that at least 10 of the given words are to be used. This time I used all of the words, although “sciamachy” appears only by definition in the old woman’s speech.