Where Bluebirds FlyBy: Brynn Chapman
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.
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
19th January 1692
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.