Friday, January 8, 2016
SUFFER A WITCH
AUTHOR: Claudia Hall Christian
They call her “Em.” Em for Martha. Em for “Emogene Peres” the name she received in Boston less than a day after she’d been hanged in Salem Village in September 1692. Em and most of those hanged as Salem Witches were transformed into immortal witches only a few hours after they were deemed Salem Witches. Three hundred and twenty-two years later, they live, work, and love in modern day Boston, Massachusetts where Em runs a spiritual store called the Mystic Divine, just off the Boston Commons.
On the anniversary of the first hanging, June 10, 2014, Em learns that a young man and a team of ghost hunters have dedicated themselves to finding the crevice where the Salem Twenty’s bodies were stuffed after hanging. The problem is that Em and the rest of the Salem Twenty are making full use of those skeletons. What starts with a young man with big ideas brings the Salem Witches face to face with their demons.
In Suffer a Witch, you will meet the Salem Witches as you’ve never seen them. Through their eyes, you get a sense of what happened all those years ago. Their stories will move you to tears and make you laugh out loud. Join them as they face a battle they have prepared for their entire lives.
“You’re a witch!”
A man’s voice laced with vitriol echoed off the storefront. Several people walking on the sidewalk stopped to stare at him. Em glanced to her left to see a homeless man wearing ragged, dirty clothing, long greasy, grey hair, and a filthy beard leaning against a pillar of the building next door to the Mystic Divine, Em’s metaphysical shop.
“Repent!” the man screamed and pointed at her. His finger turned to point toward the heavens. “Repent or feel the wrath! The hangman is not far away!”
Em scowled at the man. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug.
“Old habits die hard,” the man said with a grin. “Plus, the acoustics are great here.”
Shaking her head at him, Em shifted her paper coffee cup to her left hand and dug around in her purse for her keys. The man walked toward her.
“Ye be a witch!” The man’s voice came like a thunderbolt from a pulpit.
Em yelped with surprise. The plastic lid of her coffee cup dislodged, and her coffee spilled on the ground.
“George!” Em said. “You made me spill my coffee.”
“Sorry, Em,” Reverend George Burroughs said.
“You should be,” Em said. “God, you smell awful!”
George gave her a gap-toothed smile.
“That is not a compliment,” Em said.
George laughed. He leaned in to hug her, and she waved him away.
“Get inside,” Em said.
George slunk into the shop. He stopped near the door and turned to hug her. Em shook her head. She gave him a key and waved her hands toward the stairs in the back of the shop. Whistling an ancient hymn, George went through the shop like a pungent parade. He took the stairs in the back and disappeared upstairs.
Em’s eyes lingered on the door to her apartment a moment longer than she’d have liked. Shaking her head at herself, she started opening the small shop. She turned on Tiffany floor lamps and put away the few things left out the night before. The Mystic Divine specialized in all forms of spirituality. The most ardent evangelical Christian and the Wiccan could both find the tools and education they needed to live their spiritual life. The store was laid out in such a way that there were nooks for reading, small private rooms for spiritual readings, and two larger group rooms in the loft upstairs. Em picked up a microfiber cloth and dusted the section on Gurdieff’s The Fourth Way. The shop made most of its income off of religious counseling and psychic readings. George was a particularly popular tarot reader.
She glanced at the door to her apartment and wondered if he was reading tonight. Longing welled up inside of her. In her mind’s eye, she saw him standing under a stream of warm water in his shower. Feeling her presence, he smiled and gestured for her to join him.
“No,” Em said out loud.
She forced herself to get out her laptop and read her email. The next time she looked up, George was holding a cup of coffee in front of her nose. His long, grey hair was wet and tied back. He’d shaved. He was wearing clean clothes from his side of the closet. She took the mug from him, and he rewarded her with a soft smile. They drank coffee in hungry silence.
“What are you caught up in?” George asked.
“Some kids are into the whole Salem thing,” Em said. “I was watching their videos. They’ve found Gallow’s Hill, you know — the real one, not the park.”
“Oh, yeah?” George asked
“They say they’ve caught Bridget’s ghost on camera.”
“How is that possible?” George asked.
“Who knows?” Em shrugged. “Maybe we lost our souls when we were hanged.”
George instinctively rubbed his neck. Em smiled at his gesture.
“How did this morning go?” George asked.
“Bridget was on the hill,” Em said.
“What?” George squinted with surprised.
“She was even wearing a reproduction of the dress she was hanged in. Shoes, too.”
“She can’t be there!” George said.
“I told her, but you know how she is,” Em said. “What’s the point of . . .”
“ . . .being immortal if you can’t do what you want,” George joined Em in quoting Bridget.
“Exactly,” Em said. “She told me about these kids. You know, Bridget’s convinced that there was an actual specter which tormented our accusers.”
“Bridget,” George gave a sad shake of his head.
“You know, I never thought of it,” Em said.
“Of what?” George asked.
“I never gave even one thought to the idea that there might have actually been an entity that tortured those girls,” Em said. “I always thought they were . . .”
“Full of shit,” George said in unison with her.
“But this morning,” Em nodded, “I mean, Bridget was so sure that I wondered if she was onto something. Let’s say there was an entity. It presented to the girls in our likeness. And . . .”
Em shook her head.
“And?” George raised his eyebrows. “Disappeared for the last three hundred and twenty-two years?”
“And nothing,” Em said with a shrug. “That’s as far as I got. Do you think it’s possible?”
“No,” George said.
Claudia Hall Christian is a consummate storyteller. Whether she’s writing the long running Denver Cereal or a short blurb for her neighborhood newsletter, she tells heartwarming stories that leaves people longing for more. These skills make writing traditional serial fiction — long-form stories that are published as they are written — a natural for Claudia. Her lifelong writing goal is to write a serial fiction set in every state in the United States. So far, she’s brought her brand of addictive, heartwarming fiction to Fort Worth, Texas, in the Queen of Cool, to Denver for the Denver Cereal, and now to Boston for Suffer a Witch. Last year, Claudia released the first of the Jornada del Muerto novellas set in Santa Fe.
A prolific author, Claudia also writes the Amazon bestselling the Alex the Fey thrillers, as well as the Seth and Ava Mysteries. She currently has 22 published works. In order to keep up with her storytelling capacity, she co-founded a publishing house, Cook Street Publishing, with a group of friends.