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!

The First Step

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, The Fall Writing Frenzy challenges keep coming! Kaitlyn Sanchez, one of the contest organizers, posted this challenge: take a line from your original story and create a whole new story from that line. As before, we’d love for you to share with our community by posting to your blog and sharing using the #FallWritingFrenzy hashtag!

So, here’s my effort, coming in at just under 200 words. I kept the same character from my original, but aged her up to 18 and created a new story for her. The line from the original is in bold type. I hope you enjoy!

The First Step

I unpacked my shadow box, placing it gently on the desk.
“What’s the deal with the leaf?”
I looked over my shoulder, taking in my roommate’s smirk.
“Just something I’ve had since I was a kid.”
“Whatever,” she said, with a wave. “I’m walking to dinner.”
I blinked back tears. She belonged here on this campus filled with traditions and old money—the Ivy League and all that. From the minute Dad dropped me off, I’d known I would never belong here. An imposter. Had it really only been a few hours ago?
The essay that clinched my scholarship had been about that leaf—a tangible keepsake of Mom’s last wish. In the interviews, the selection committee told me how moved they’d been by my story, and my strength in sharing it with them.
“I do belong here.”
I said the words out loud, to steel my resolve. The committee had picked me. Me.
This would be my first step on a long journey. To become a doctor. To devote myself to researching cancer—and ways to stop it’s growth.
Placing my hand on the box, I said, “This is for you, Mom. I’ve got this.”
And I did.