The fire crackled and she screamed like a devil and the crowd chanted, “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”
I turned my eyes away and started back to my house; the chanting echoed in my ears long after I had entered my basement. I remembered my lover's glowing red hair before the fire torched it, long curls that bounced past her shoulders.
When she saw my lab for the first time and her eyes grew wide and started watering, my heart sank. The betrayal she must have felt threw her into a rage. I still have piles of swept-up glass from broken vials in the corners.
“You're not a witch!” she said. She held my hand and stroked my face. “This isn't yours!” She made excuses.
I had to be calm, but she couldn't be. She fell to the floor and clung to my dress pleading, “Please, no.” But the answer was yes. As cold as it must have felt to hear, “Yes.”
Our love was hard enough for us to keep a secret and I knew she couldn't handle the betrayal. When she left, she left full of hate and I filled with sadness. I knew what would come next, but I'd hoped it wasn't true.
With the remaining equipment I had after our fight, I concocted a potion to make my flesh clear and my footsteps silent and I followed her. Straight to the sheriff's home. It was out of my hands at that point. My work was vital to ending the witch hunts and I couldn't let it be lost. I had to act.
I had a precious advantage and the plan was formulated and put into motion. I beat her by a precious few minutes and silently slayed the sheriff and his family. I knew she would be in shock at the sight and I knew I'd have to to rush back home. I grabbed some vials and raw ingredients and placed them in a hidden place in her home and it was done. As soon as she reported the crime, she'd be the first suspect.
The rest was like walking through a dream. The search only lasted a few hours before the items I had planted were found. There was no trial, she was a witch and they had the proof.
It took only a few hours to get the fire set up for lighting. She never looked at me the entire time and she never spoke my name, not even to cast blame. I guess that's what hurt to most. I had just condemned her to be burned with fire and she wouldn't do the same to me.
I wiped tears from my cheeks as I prepared my final potion. The curves of the vials were her curves; the fires were her burning; the bubbles and fumes were her whispers. I put the potion to my lips, her lips to mine.
In the end, my work would be abandoned, unfinished. But, I couldn't forget the picture of her eyes locked on mine as her face became smothered in flame. I would love to imagine we'd be together in death, but I was to be cursed to oblivion.
My hand trembled as I tilted the potion and drank my bitter death.