Father burst through the door. “They have them,” he breathless shouted after running from the town square, “The leaders. They will not recant, and will burned at the stake.”
My mother, confined to her bed by father’s tales of the cult, turned very pale. A more worrisome reaction that earlier tales of the cult kidnapping young ones turning the boys into slaves, and the girls into brides. That they tortured the captives to force belief in the heretical.
“Father, I wish you wouldn’t upset Mother so. She is so afeared for the children, she is unable to rise from her bed. She drank broth for the first time in days, and now look at her.”
Father did not like my questioning his authority.Fear for my mother loosened my tongue. I would be punished, but father’s excitement outweighed disciplining.
“I must stay with Mother. You gather up the other children, and take them; a lesson to be learned.” My brothers and sisters, eager for adventure, trailed off happily after Father.
I pulled a stool up next to her bed and said, “Mother, please tell me why the cult worries you so.”
“Daughter, you must promise to never repeat the story. When I was younger, my family came under the spell of the cult. Outcasts, I made my way to the city to leave behind the taint and to send my wages home so that they might eat and avoid their heretical liaisons.”
“To disavow my family more, and embrace our faith, I moved where my family did not know. Your father thinks all dead are of a fever.”
When I hear of the cult, the false stories, the capture of believers, I worry that it might be my brother, my father, my mother. The burning today could be them, or one of my childhood friends who listened to the words. I myself have thought of what they advocate, and I am no longer an ignorant, foolish girl. There is much truth in what they speak.”
Mother waited for my response. “Mother, when we are alone, tell me about their beliefs, what is heretical about their ceremonies. Mother, I want to learn about Protestantism, so that I may choose my own faith, my own fate.”
Not flash fiction, yet!