5 December 2014

Published December 3, 2014 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PHOTO PROMPT. What does it say to you? Tell us in one hundred words or less.  And remember to 


My story follows the prompt. I appreciate honest comments. Thank you. 

flowers with Ice-Janet Webb (2)

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright Janet Webb

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


            “It’s so cold!” Marybeth shivered by the fireplace.

            “This ain’t nothing.” Grandma Hattie’s wizened cheeks glistened in the flickering light. “1697, the year I turned twelve, winter commenced mid-November and by the last of March there was no sign of spring. The good Christians of Leonardtown blamed my teacher and friend Moll Dyer.”

            “You knew her?”         

            “To this day I see them with their torches and tankards hollering, ‘witch! witch!’ as they set her hut ablaze.”

            “They say she put a hex on the village, Grandma.”

            “If anyone cursed them it was their precious God for slaying an innocent lamb.”  


103 comments on “5 December 2014

  • I don’t know if it research or just gut feeling. but you always catch things so well. The details say more than everything – really you put us there, how they think. And using the winter as an example really brings it home to these days here winter are shorter, at least here in Scandinavia! So interesting, and imagine, that people really used to think that…..quite shocking really, and a far stronger piece about women’s rights than any shouting feminist.


  • What a wonderful story of a wicked past.. alas I think finding a scapegoat is embedded in the human nature. And selecting those that we deem weakest is a common thread.

    I need to think about this one.. hmm (I have gotten into the habit of reading yours before I write mine).



    • Dear Björn,

      Unfortunately it does seem to be true that humans can always find a scapegoat. I’ve always found crime in the name of God and faith to be the most horrifying. The Crusades and Pogroms in Eastern Europe are first to come to my mind. The Salem Witch are right up there with them.

      I’m not sure if reading my story before writing your own is the wisest choice. However you usually manage to find your own path with a prompt and I do appreciate the early comments.

      Thank you.




  • Dear Rochelle,

    We easily condemn and blame… and that is our curse.

    Your ability to bring history to light and life is a joy to behold and even more fun to read. My regards to Isabelle.




  • Dear Doug,

    And that, my dearest reader, is the premise of my story.

    I’m pleased that you enjoy reading my offerings and blessed by your encouragement and friendship. Isabelle says “hey.”




  • Rochelle, How easy to get rid of someone you don’t like or to get revenge by simply labeling them a witch. There were no witches but many evil people in those days. Good and well written story once again. Your description makes a reader feel they’re at the scene. — Susan


  • The thing is that people will be looking back in hundreds of years (if we haven’t all killed each other by then) on the things we’ve done and shaking their heads in disgust at our ignorance and intolerance, just as we do now. I fear that is a trait that will never leave “humanity.”


  • It seems after slaying a witch, things get worse for them. When will they learn? Once again, you bring history to life. I read the follow-on link and got another education. Great stuff, and great story. I think you last line in the story says it all.


    • Dear Eric,

      We watched a documentary about Leonardtown and Moll Dyer recently. To this day, the people believe she put a curse on the town.

      I wonder if people will ever learn? We don’t see to have over three hundred years later.

      Thank you for you wonderful comments.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Mid-November to March is a fairly standard winter up here in the Frozen North, Rochelle, but that aside, you put me right there with Marybeth and her granny, remembering terrible times and the cruelties of intolerance. If only we were all done with those now, eh?


    • Dear Jennifer,

      As long as there are humans there will be intolerance. 😦

      It seems that the winter of 1697 in Maryland was longer than normal. People died of starvation and illness. Superstition abounded and horrid atrocities committed in God’s name. Too bad they didn’t have Dopler radar.

      Thank you for your kind comments.




  • You would definitely be toast M’luv. Your interweave of fiction and history is always amazing to me. I saw a documentary on this subject, and the stone is supposed to be haunted also. Great job, as usual.


  • Great story this week, Rochelle. It is interesting how both of us went with a curse. Something about that picture, I guess. That or an obsession that at least one of us has with gothic literature. 😀

    Thanks for the link too. Interesting. I knew that the Puritans of Massachusetts were this superstitious, but I didn’t know much about this type of occurrence in Maryland.

    May your day be free of curses–real or imagined.

    Marie Gail


  • Wow, you did good. I mean great!
    We’ve been called a lot of names over the centuries, makes my head spin all the way.
    We just keep taking it don’t we. Let’s stop.
    Unfortunately, we learn the good things and the bad (not progressive) from our dear mother’s.
    Excellent Rochelle!


    • Dear Gardenlilie,

      I agree. People…men in general I think are intimidated by women, particularly ones with intelligence. 😉 And if God created men and women to complete each other. why are men trying to destroy a part of themselves? The thought just came to mind.

      Thank you for your enthusiastic comments. Warming on a cold day.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Impressive story, Rochelle. I’m always dazzled how you tie all these layers together. I’m wondering if the cylindrical shape in the prompt was likened to Moll Dyer’s spirit I read about. This is a challenging prompt to come back to! I enjoyed your story very much.


    • Dear Amy,

      To read that your dazzled is affirming, exhilarating and humbling, all at the same time.
      There are so many story possibilities found in history. So much fun.

      A challenge is a good thing, right?

      Thank you.




  • Interesting! I just finished a course on Colonial History from 1642-1700 (or there about). We touched on the witch trials and the reasons some of the women might have become crazy and thought of as witches. Nicely done.


    • Dear Alicia,

      I wonder if we read the same things about ergot poisoning being a possible cause. No matter what, murdering them wasn’t a viable option in my humble opinion.

      Thank you for coming by with nice comments.




  • It’s always handy to be able to call someone a witch and blame them for everything. I wonder if they blamed someone else the next long winter?
    Another great piece of historical fiction.


  • I always, always learn something from your stories. I think you’ve raised historical flash fiction to a fine art. In fact, you’re probably the only one who does it! You’ve set a pretty high standard!
    Thank you for yet another wonderful story!


    • Dear Dawn,

      All I know for sure is that I love finding humanity and personality in history. To know that someone else such as yourself enjoys my endeavors is exciting for me as well.

      Thank you for such head-turning comments.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle, People who want to see witches – will see witches to the death of many poor souls in Salem, MA. Excellent story and true to history. Good job and another entertaining history lesson Professor! Nan 🙂


    • Dear Nan,

      Unfortunately it’s still true. While we don’t burn them at the stake here any more we find other ways to crucify those who are different, don’t we?

      Always happy to share a good history lesson. Class dismissed. 😉

      Thank you.




  • Accusations of witchcraft (or communism, or countless other unproven and unprovable crimes) have ever been a favoured way of ridding oneself of an inconvenient individual…

    Doing it in the name of god (or king, or country, or whatever) is simply a way of getting community support.

    A very interesting take on the prompt.


    • Dear Smudgy,

      The hundred word challenge is like a drug to me. I’m completely addicted. 😉 It’s nice to know when my intent comes across to the reader.

      By all means, jump in and write.

      Thank you.




  • How lucky we are to live in an age when women are no longer…oh wait, scratch that.
    Puritan barbarians do still roam the earth. They may never become extinct. I love the way you make the political personal here. “Wizened cheeks” – exceptional!


    • Dear Subroto,

      I’m not sure whether to thank you or not for that horrifying article. Seriously, it needs to be shared. In America we think of the witch hunts as something in our dark, distant past.

      Thank you for your kind comments.




  • Dear Ginger Ali,
    Twas indeed a cold period in our nation’s history. I was just thinking how tired your legs would get if you were locked in the stocks for even a couple of hours. I’d probably collapse and choke to death, or stranded in the sun where I’d get too hot and melt.
    Here’s wishing you a cool night, Frosty


  • Thank you for this interesting story and character! I did a quick google on her for a little more. Had I lived back then, I probably would roast, too. I’ve been told that I am a bit eccentric. Really! 🙂



    • Dear Lily,

      I don’t for a minute believe Moll Dyer was a witch. That’s if she truly existed. I’m with you. We’d probably have adjoining stakes. Eccentric? C’est moi? 😉

      Thank you for reading and commenting.




    • Dear Patrick,

      I’ll set my lawyers to writing as I think I wrote mine first. 😉 On the other hand I prefer to think of these stories as companions and a commentary on how some things never change.

      At any rate, I hope this means you liked my story.

      Thank you.




  • Hi Rochelle,

    Wedding and family shenanigans kept me too distracted to take part in this last week, but I’m glad I caught this week’s story! Wow. Very well done!

    That period of history has always fascinated and repulsed me. Interesting how those ghost stories linger on hundreds of years later.

    Wonderful work, as usual. 🙂



  • Baseless accussations are one of those things whih can seen in past, present and future, I guess. In 100 words you shared a lot more than a story, Rochelle. I love reading your fictional pieces. 🙂


  • Dear Indira,

    How sweet of you to come back and comment.

    It saddens me to know that women are still burned as witches. It’s a dark and bleak part of American history, one that fascinates and appalls me.

    Thank you.




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