Before college, I used to write a lot. I would write short stories, sometimes influenced by my life, dreams, and other works of literature that I love. After a fantastic winter break of sitting around and watching tv, driving 20 hours to Disney world in one shot, and spending time with my family at home, I have been thrown into the already chaotic field that is my last semester of undergrad. As I reached the end of this chapter in my life, I used this break to reflect and remember the things I used to love, such as my love for writing stories, however short or weird they may be.

Below is a short story I wrote:

The Witches of Herning

“Don’t do it!” she screamed. “I’m innocent. I had nothing to do with the iniquity that occurred in Herning.”

“Shut up! You and the other witches are the ones that burned down Herning. That town was my home; it was where my family resided. Since we couldn’t catch the others, you are the scapegoat. You will be used as an example to others of your kind.” said the man. Fear was pellucid in the young woman’s face as she wondered how she got into this situation.

1 hour Earlier

“Maria!” her mother yelled, “Come inside before it gets dark.”

“Okay mama,” Maria replied. Maria knew why her mom wanted her inside before dark. Throughout her small town of Herning, there has been a talk of witches, beautiful and perspicacious young women with mystical powers. Maria knew that these young women wanted to usurp the town and use the people as their servants and sacrifices through the town’s rumor mill. These women classified as witches can’t be told apart from the regular women except by the axiom told by the elders that their voices are dulcet and could control the minds of men. Because of the threat of these women the townsmen’s main goal, as of late, is to expurgate them and their wickedness from the world.

“Maria, do you have your talisman?” her mother asked as she walked in the door.

“No,” Maria replied. “I forgot to go to the atelier to collect the new one the owner made.”

“What!” her mother yelled. “You know that talisman was to protect you from the witches’ powers. We don’t know who they are, and they could easily attack you. Run to the atelier and collect your talisman before darkness is upon us” her mother said in a peremptory manner. Whenever her mother used that tone with her, Maria knew that she had no other option than to obey and hurry. 

Walking out of the house, Maria noticed that she had about 30 mins before darkness was upon the town. She stood at the front door of her house vacillating about whether to go to the atelier as her mother demanded or stay home. Fear of her mother quickly set in, and Maria ran out of the house, headed towards the atelier at a speed she didn’t know she possessed. The atelier wasn’t far away, and Maria made it there in 5 mins. Walking in, she asked the owner for the talisman she had ordered. The man brought it out to her and explained how to use it. He told her to be abstemious in her use of the charm, as the magic in it could run out and have to be redesigned if used excessively.

“Don’t you think I know that?” Maria said in a patronizing tone, due to her frustration and desire to make it home on time. She quickly collects her talisman and runs out of the atelier. Stepping outside, Maria noticed it was dark, and without a thought, took off in a sprint to her home. She held her talisman and prayed that she made it there safely as she ran. Unfortunately for her, Maria ran into one of the town’s men patrolling the area. He stopped her and asked where she was going. She replied home, but he did not believe her. He looked at her with his archaic-looking spectacles and concluded that she was a part of the witches. Having made his conclusion, the man grabbed her by the hand and rallied the rest of the town to begin the bonfire that would be her demise. Startled by this turn of events, Maria pleaded with the man that she was not a witch and that the only reason she was out at night was to get a talisman to prevent her from being hurt by the true witches. The man refused to believe her and tied her up to the burning pole.

Current Time

“Why me?” Maria questioned as she watched the bottom of the pole catch on fire. “Why am I accused of something I am not?” she cried as her body went up in flames.

The End

Elena Ikeocha

Elena Ikeocha

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering (Petroleum Emphasis) YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Townsend, Delaware PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @Sarpurple On-campus, I am an Executive House Manager for USC's Trojan Events Services and a member of USC's co-ed Professional Engineering Fraternity Theta Tau. I am a member of the club field hockey and golf team. In terms of professional clubs, I am a member of AIChE.