Fall Writing Frenzy 2021: The Accusation

I’m back to throw my hat into the ring for the third annual Fall Writing Frenzy, run by the amazing duo Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis! Check out the contest link for all the details, but basically I’m writing a 200 word story based on the picture below. When I saw this old church in autumn, a strange story began to unfold. It’s written for a teen audience. Special thanks to the prize donors and special judge Ameerah Holliday! I hope you enjoy!

Photo Credit: Unsplash: Julia Solonina

The Accusation

(200 words)

The rising chants spur me forward. They’ve grown almost loud enough to drown out my hammering heart, and the crunching of leaves under my feet.
Am I too late?

The church comes into view.

Smoke prickles my nose.
What have I done?

I’m close enough now to hear shouted taunts—

“Witch!”
“Heretic!”
“Devil!”

All lies. But, who’ll believe me now?

Orange flames lash the pole. Crackling. Popping.

“Father!” I shout in vain. I’ll make him believe me.

But, I can’t push through the frenzied mob. I’m too late to stop this.

Even now, bound in ropes, Anna looks beautiful—chin high, face proud.

Does she know what I’ve done?

Guilt knots my insides.

But, Henry had wanted her. My Henry.

Before Anna came, I’d been enough.

So, I lied. “She cursed our crops.”

They needed a scapegoat, so they believed. It was easy, really.

Suddenly, there’s a loud bang, a green flash. I’m thrown backwards into the crowd.
Fear grips my throat like a fist. I’ll be trampled!

At the crowd’s collective gasp, I follow their gazes skyward.

Anna soars above us, one finger pointing at me.

Our eyes meet.

Then…
she’s gone.

Again, I wonder. What have I done?

UPDATE**** I won a critique from amazing kidlit author Dorian Cirrone. Thanks to everyone who puts this together every year!