Before the Fall of Abigail ©


In the beginning it was only the eyes, then it was the warts, but the warts came last and it was the warts that made it difficult. It was troublesome to look into her eyes, as troublesome as it was to look into the sun, but the warts and the sun were things you knew were there, and both were things your eyes avoided. It was natural to look away from the sun or to shield your eyes from its glare, it was expected and thought nothing of, but to avert your eyes from the sadness and fear in her eyes or to shield your glance from hers was thought to be, at first, unnatural and ill-mannered. But it was a necessary reaction. Nothing else could be done. Instinct was to look away. In time, the sadness and fear in her eyes was replaced by confidence, and the confidence was as vulgar and troublesome as the obscene tone her personality had taken.

She was neither Catholic nor religious, so later, after the fear, the wide collared nun’s habit she began favoring was as mysterious as the other changes in Abigail and could only have been a mockery to God.

I forget when she started the candle lighting. It was a subtle change in Abigail; one I hadn’t noticed before it became an obsession with her. She said it was to keep the evil things away. But that was in the beginning, when she was afraid.

Soon after I discovered her obsession with the candles, I found her one evening in her room, sitting on the edge of her bed, in the amber light of a candle which she cradled in her palms. She was rocking herself and whispering repeatedly, “Dear Lord, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” Abigail kept the lights out in her room but always a candle was lit. She said it was the only way, and she was afraid then.
When Abigail was no longer afraid and the warts had come in like organic pebbles, she began walking through the low growing ferns and into the forest beyond the house. At first she would stay away for hours, then days. Now she returns only to creep around the yard like an animal or feral beast. A footpath is worn lifeless where she pads about after dark.

Before the fall of Abigail, when things made sense and nights were pleasant, a lit candle meant one thing only – that a candle had been lit. Now it means a thing that is deeper and darker than any I have ever known is near. Why I should sit here in this darkness and invite the evil in I do not know, but still I do it. I sit here now, warts and all, with my hands balled and clasped in my lap, rocking, fighting temptation to extinguish my good candle.

I miss Abigail the way a crying child is missed after the child is sent away to school or the way the sun is missed on a dreary day and realize now, when the sun was bright and high in the sky, I paid it no attention.

I know horror, now that things are bleak, and Abigail is lost to darkness. Oh how I wish I did not know such terror, but I believe there is a wicked thing here in this darkness, and that I must go to it – to be with Abigail.

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22 comments on “Before the Fall of Abigail ©

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is powerful — whatever it is! A flash fiction? short short? or whatever!
    it seems to me too good to let go of — when I’m sure there is more, perhaps much more, that you might do with this.

  2. Much mystery here.

    I love this story, from the very beginning, the tetrameter rhythm of the title, all the way through to the mysterious ” I sit here now, warts and all..” I will read this a third and fourth time, and then maybe I’ll know who is sitting here now, warts and all. Clearly someone who was close to Abigail and wants to be with her again. A husband or sister or friend, maybe.

    I am touched, moved, by “the sadness and fear in her eyes ”
    I like the way you’ve put those together. In life, sadness and fear do so often go together.

    And I like the simple direct statement of, “But that was in the beginning, when she was afraid.” A good clean striking sentence.

    I like the way you’ve been sparse with adjectives, and the ones you’ve used are perfect: “…come in like organic pebbles…” That’s good. Very good.

    This may turn out to be one of my favorites. I think “Abigail kept the lights out in her room but always a candle was lit. She said it was the only way, and she was afraid then” is good. It tells us something about her struggle — but not the how and what and why.

    The how and what are alluded to, clearly enough for our imaginations to fill in. After the second reading, Abigail became so real to me that I cared enough to want to know why. But I can accept that it’s perhaps a universal why, a why that does not need to be specific but only needs to be recognized.

    Very good story.

    • wow what a fabulous, fabulous comment to a story I almost didn’t post.
      I hope you are reading the most up to date version of the story, as I sometimes take commas out and replace them with periods.

      Thank you

    • I suppose you notice the person sitting there now has developed the conditions Abigail had before turning “witch”. – Rocking in place, fighting temptation to blow out the candle and give in to the darkness, the warts…
      Reminds me a little of The Yellow Wallpaper

  3. Yes, I noticed that and that, for me, is a big part of the mystery. Did this someone become a witch in the same way — whatever it was — that Abigail did? Or did Abigail bewitch this person? On purpose? With malice intent? Or did this person will himself/herself to become like Abigail in order to “go to it – to be with Abigail”? It’s a marvelous story not just for the plot, which is compelling, but also for the way it is developed, little piece by little piece, a smooth and seamless growing that takes the reader into a sparsely but richly and vividly detailed world, and reminds us that fear of the unknown is dreadful.
    I say “sparsely” because you don’t tell us anything we don’t need to know. The vivid details you give us are necessary and sufficient.

  4. Robert Vorsteg says:

    Upon re-reading this, it appears more terrifying than before.
    I do not think I will revisit this very often — and certainly not
    before bedtime.
    Bob

  5. Patricia Wells says:

    How about a light comedy next?? Love your writing!

    p

  6. Your allusions work on two levels. I can follow the stories and be entertained, even engrossed, by your writing on its own merits. Then often, after a little research, I can enjoy them a second time with a whole new appreciation. It takes a strong, skilled writer to use these types of allusions without alienating me as a reader, as I often learn you are referencing things I either never knew or have long ago forgotten. I think it is impressive that you can make irrelevant a reader’s lack of knowledge of history or the classics. Moreover, not only do you negate the risk of turning me off because I don’t recognize something, you are actually planting a seed that makes me want to learn what I am missing. I have a choice of doing the homework or not, and either way I have immensely enjoyed what I’ve just read. Thank you and kudos!

    Amber

    • Thank you. Happiness is a nice comment, and that is a nice comment, so I am happy.
      I’m so glad you recognize the stories as more than they appear to be. But It’s good too that you can enjoy them as they are, without feeling like you have to parse them, because sometimes, you just want to read a piece of frugal fiction, and enjoy it for what it is.

  7. Rovor says:

    Well, I’ve come back to it–for I could not forget it. Every story that’s been written is out there somewhere in the world among all the other pieces of paper — or now, millions of bits or electronic blips or whatever — in whatever mode — there. But just there. “Before the Fall of Abigail” has more than that typographical or electronic existence. The story has now entered my personal field of consciousness, and I feel I must flag it with a caution or a warning to myself–Beware! Abigail has a way of falling that seems contagious, that lingers in the the crooks and crannies of the mind, and who knows what Abigail may be up to as I sleep?
    Rovor

  8. Thank you for your comment on my poem.

    I think what draws one to this story is that it is so human — if that makes sense. You can see the pull of the protagonist to run, but they cannot leave Abigail to deal with the darkness alone. Even if they cannot help. And they cannot bear to be without her, even if it hurts to be with her.

    At least that is what I got from it.

    • Thank you Thérèse. Nice interpretation. I’m not sure who this person is who is actually considering extinguishing the candle and going into the darkness to be with Abigail. I sometimes imagined a male figure and sometimes a female. I wonder if it’s Abigail’s sister or mother or husband or brother… I guess we don ‘t get to know.

  9. timotheous128 says:

    Again, brilliant writing, especially considering you are giving a personality to an established person in history. I actually just got finished studying Abigail Williams in my American Literature course (I had to read the accounts of the Salem Witch Trials), and this is a interesting spin on her character.

    I like it. 🙂

    • Oh wow thanks! brilliant writing. Most gracious comment.
      I often pull a fictional character from a book, usually a classic, and create another situation for the character in my own story. It’s not always obvious. But it’s sort of where I find my Muse.
      (Not that Abigail is fictional, but you know what I mean).

      • timotheous128 says:

        A comment well deserved. 🙂

        And yes, I know exactly what you mean, and I quite like it. You breathe new life into existing characters by putting them in new situations and scenarios, and that is cool. 🙂

  10. girlgeum says:

    What’s the temptation that leads someone to become evil? Does he/she wake up one morning and say that this is it; this is the way I’m going to be from now on? Or is it an accumulation of events, bad things that happened to them that mold them into being who they have become? Hitler comes to mind.

    That one lit candle. Interesting.

    • Ah the lit candle. I liked calling that candle the good candle to represent the light from the candle being good in all that darkness. I imagined Abigail as a good person who turned into a witch or was possessed in some way, but I don’t really know what happened to her. What ever it was, it was beginning to happen to the narrator also.

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