And another great choice by Joy.
I love a good witch story, and this was an original take on what we already know. The first line of this piece perfectly sets the tone: ‘I burned a witch to death last night.’ The story is rounded off nicely with the final line ‘Witches cremate nicely.’,so much that I feel like it could have also been the second line of the piece, but it definitely wouldn’t have had the same effect.
The build-up of this piece is done brilliantly: The description of the messy garden (‘thick vines and thorny bushes’) and how animals get trapped, going over into facts on how to recognise witches and the types. They set a certain mood that led me to expect to see the word ‘witch hunt’ or ‘hunter’ at any moment. But that moment never came, because why would hunting witches be the only reason for burning them, right?
Hugh commented: ‘I couldn’t get out my head that he was a sort of ‘Dignitas’ for witches.’ which I really loved. What exactly is happening in the story, perhaps only the narrator and the witches themselves will ever know. After reading the story I found myself Googling: ‘Are witches immortal?’ to which the first answer on Reddit was: ‘Your world, your rules.’ Gosh, perhaps we should stop asking ourselves ‘How can we kill the witch?’ instead of asking the witch ‘How are you coping with knowing you will not face a natural death, but the only option you have is for your body to be set on fire?’ and ‘Are you okay? …Would you like to talk about it?’
Questions for the author:
Q. I have to ask. Do you see witches as beings who cannot die from natural causes? (Or more particularly in the universe of your story?)
Q. The casualness of the narrator towards what happens makes the story all the more curious. Do you think the narrator ever felt anything besides fascination about the burning of the witch?