Author's Note: As you've probably guessed from the title, this is both chapters 2 and 3 because... well, I felt like it. (And chapter two was a little dull, so I added some extra spice with 3)
Kit slowly opened the door to her mothers room. It was a simple place, with very little furnishing or decoration, not unlike the rest of her home. But what set it apart from the rest of the small house was the overwhelming sorrow that hung over it like a bleak canopy. On the wall opposite the door was the bed where her mother lay, and Kit glided over to wake her.
"'Tis morning, mother," she whispered, tapping her mother's shoulder. "I hope you slept well." Her mother stirred, then used her arms to slowly lift herself, resting her back against the bed's wooden headboard. Just watching her struggle to do such a simple task nearly made Kit cry, but she didn't have time for that.
She took the medicine recommended by the doctor off the shelf and gave it to her mother. She accepted it with a shaky, mottled hand and turned her gaze to Kit.
"You know I despise this paste"
"'Tis not a paste mother, but a medicine. Dr. Griffin gave it to you himself, remember?" Her mother let out a quiet, raspy laugh.
"Yes. That insufferable man refuses to give me my own living space for nearly a month, gives me this retched concoction to take once every morning, then races off as if I had nothing more than a cough!" She laughed again, then began hacking, and Kit quickly grabbed her handkerchief from the bedside table.
When the poor woman's coughing fit had finally ceased, she handed the ruined clothe back to her daughter, who was careful not to touch the spots of blood, saliva, and other things she'd rather not have identified. Without anywhere to place it, she reluctantly pocketed the cloth and turned back to her mother, who was gazing upon her with an unusual determination for the sunken, sallow figure that she was.
"Now," she said, with a smile threatening the corners of her thin, papery mouth, "what is the news of the town? I'm afraid I feel rather disconnected from my fellow citizens."
Kit stared openmouthed at her mother.
"You've been sick in bed for a year's time, and your only request is for trite gossip?"
"Well maybe if that horrid Doctor would allow me to do more than sit around in bed all day, I'd be more informed. But I'm not even allowed to attend church anymore because I'm 'too fragile.’” She huffed, and shakily tucked a piece of prematurely grey hair behind her ear. “Why, if I had my way with that man I'd-"
"Mother!" Kit stopped her before she could say anything... ungodly.
"If you simply must know, there is a rumor that the Parris girls have been having awful fits. Nothing the ministers or doctors do is helping, and there is whisper of witchcraft being the culprit. Did that satiate your need for silly gossip?" Kit knew the manner of which she was speaking was most inappropriate, but with all the extra chores and responsibilities, she didn't have time to waste on half-baked ideas and empty words. Especially when what little content they did contain didn't apply to her.
Her mother gave Kit a sad smile, and placed a shaky hand on her shoulder.
"Sometimes I feel like you're the one mothering me. At your age, you shouldn't have to worry about some old woman sitting in her room with her retched paste-"
"Oh, bother the specifics. I'm trying to tell you that you need to stop trying to grow up so quickly, or you'll end up a grumpy old housewife with nothing to do but yell at kids for having the same youth that you lost far too soon. Now, go down stairs and see to it that that sister of yours isn't wreaking havoc on our kitchen floors."
Kit laughed in spite of herself, and made her way back down the stairs to finish her morning chores.
* * *
Kit left the house grasping the now empty pitcher in her hands. The sky was cloudless, and eye-achingly blue, and the dirt Salem roads were now bustling with villagers going about their daily lives. Kit couldn't help but think that they must resemble something of an ant farm from above, what with all the twisting streets, each lined with their own small wooden houses.
"Now stop that foolish thinking," she scolded herself under her breath. "No human could ever see anything from above unless the object 'twas shorter than they." And ants! What troublesome things to compare her fellow villagers to. Kit held her head high and kept walking, careful not to trip over her thick winter cloak and long, simple dress. She had almost reached the street's well when she saw a large puff of gray smoke emerge from the wood, just outside her town.
Kit blinked, hoping it had been a trick of the light. Another plume appeared, and she blinked again. Blink. Puff! Blink. Puff! She tried to make sense of it, but nothing quite seemed to fit. Fires and chimneys didn't send up smoke in short bursts, and it certainly wasn't sparkly. She didn't know much of science from her time as a student, but she'd never heard mention of such a phenomenon as light looking like shimmery french grey smoke.
No one around her seemed to notice, so she too decided to ignore it. She strode down the path, all too aware of the plumes in the corner of her eye. Kit'd only made it a few more steps, when it became entirely impossible to dismiss.
A large, swirling burst of fuchsia came cascading from the wood in a great display of twists and loops, climbing higher into the sky until it had vanished into thin air. Following that were shorter displays of chartreuse, cyan, rose, and other ludicrous shades of madness that danced in Kit's vision, mocking her and her queer ability to see such a thing when no one else seemed to bat an eyelash.
There she stood, with her mouth gaping open at the empty, cloudless sky where the smoke had just been.
"Are you alright dear?" Kit jumped at the question, and whipped around to see the familiar face of a woman with long dark hair framing her thin, pale face. Kit sighed, and greeted her mother's friend.
"Mrs. Bishop! Oh, you nearly scared me to the grave."
"I scared you? Child, I thought you'd been possessed, or something of the sort, with the peculiar way you were staring at nothing.”
"Why yes, not a thing. Are you feeling well? You're not infected with that awfulness ailing thy mother, are you?"
“No, I, um, well I-” She had to think of something that made sense. Quick.
“I though saw a bird! Yes, a bright yellow canary bird. It swooped down upon my head.” Mrs. Bishop’s eye widened in terror.
“A yellow canary? Why, not the kind that’ve been attacking the Parris girls is it?”
“I’m sorry?” She asked, not sure she’d heard right.
“Yes! They say it’s a witches familiar! It’s horrible, Katherine, dear, simply horrible. No one can see the dastardly things but those poor girls.”
"Oh my, yes. Quite horrible. But I'm afraid I must get going, chores and all. Good day to you!" Kit was all too aware of how impolite she was to Mrs. Bishop, but she didn't have time for silly rumors when she had to investigate! And besides, she was almost certain what she saw had been real.
She hitched up her skirt a little and quickly walked just far enough down the road that it wouldn't raise suspicion, and took a sharp right turn into the woods.