The Devil’s Temptation Leslie Lee

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The Devil’s Temptation by Leslie Lee
Illustration by Sue Babcock

They are praying for my soul. I do not know how I came to be lying here in this box. I am too young to die. Someone must be responsible for my death. It is my funeral, and the reverent all are gathered here like on the Sabbath. Surely, not Goodwife Bishop though. She can’t be here. I told Reverend Hale she owed me satisfaction for sowing disorder through the village and right next to my very own home. Entertaining all hours of the night, corrupting the young with drink and shovel board. I am glad I threw the game pieces in the fire. I saved their souls when I did that.

But I hear her voice. What? What is she saying? She lies like the witch she is. She must be the Devil’s concubine; her voice rings with such sincerity.

I long to shout, “She speaks falsehoods! Lies sprout from her mouth like Satan’s serpents.” This is a house of the Lord; she has no power here, though, does she?

She is saying we became friends: that I asked forgiveness of her and she gave it freely.

Why is she saying these things? Is she covering for some deadly sin? Could she have harmed me to cause my present condition? I would not doubt the truth of that. And now, my dearest, my John, agrees with her. He says I always tried to follow the Lord’s guidance, through prayer and fasting, and that if I did any evil, such as throwing the shovel game pieces in the fire,

Why it was naught that my own hand performed, but rather, my hand was guided by the Devil’s temptation.

My memory of the last weeks has faded into a gray fog. I do not comprehend why everyone is talking with such judgment about me. They whisper falsehoods as if they were evil serpents in Eden itself, implying that I took my life with my own hand. I would never do such a thing. Have they all been seduced by Satan?

I address my attention to my task. I must recall recent events or I shall burst from fear.

And now I remember. I did feel badly about my evilness. I spoke ill of Sara Bishop to Reverend Hale. And after fasting and prayer, when I came to my senses once more, I did beg her forgiveness, and she did give it to me. My dear, sweet John. He has always defended me against the evil in the world. Only John understands the torment I go through.

They come to me now, one after the other looking down at my face and blessing me.

Here is John. My dear, dear husband. He bends down towards me. When I see his face, I recall my last words to him.

“You lie with Satan too!” I had shouted. “You cannot deny the way you look at Goody Bishop. How many times have you bedded her?”

My remorse paralyzes me now.

“Forgive my harsh words, John,” I say.

He must hear me because he leans in close, touches my throat—and I realize everything that happened and who is responsible—I remember seeing the small scissors in his hand and his eyes—small and cruel—and how the vein on his right temple throbbed and how he shouted, “Shut your Godforsaken mouth!” I remember him stabbing the scissors into my neck and the blood, the blood!

My dear John kisses my forehead, lowers the lid.

I am left alone in the dark.

 

Bio: Leslie Lee is a free-lance writer of poetry, speculative fiction and literary fiction, as well as articles about dogs. Her stories have been published in anthologies, ezines, and on blogs. Liquid Imagination ezine nominated her story, Tattoo, for the Small Press Pushcart Prize in 2010.
Although Leslie perfected the art of reading while walking down the street, a close brush with a Municipal bus made her realize that writing might be a more benign way to spend her time. When she is not writing or dodging moving buses, she enjoys hiking, and spending time with her husband, daughter and dog.

 

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