On the very outskirts of town, in a little cobbled corner of Romanknowes there lies a darkness. Not a darkness as we might associate with the nighttime, but a strange intangible gloom; descending upon that little cobbled corner in such a way as to make it always seem as if the light of Grandmother sun could not reach it.
This tiniest of places, just a smidge, is known as Old Hobbs Cross.
Where two old coaching roads intersected, a gallows had once stood. A place where those outside of societies laws were hung to death, or in some instances burnt upon a pyre that the town folks would build upon the cross, in front of the gibbet.
People from across Romanknowes and sometimes from Littleknowes and Begridknowes would come to see the executions. So, these Hobbs Cross Burns as they were known, became famous throughout the threes knows of Thrysden Hyde.
From the Realm of meadows, to the sweet syrup trait,
robertson’s copse to Nightshade vale,
the folk of the woodland would look to sky
to see the smoke and reply with a sigh
For the folk of the woodland, knew of the cross,
Knew of those killed and knew of their loss,
As they gazed to the sky, then cast their eye low
they pitied the knowes-folk who knew not what they know.
For those who we hung or burnt, were not as we might think; not the cutpurses or murderers, not a charlatans or body-snatchers. These were those knew who saw the world differently; those who glanced past the bricks and the cobbles to see the Earth beyond, taking long slow breathes, almost unnoticeable, yet so vital to us all.
Those who felt different, loved different, thought different, acted different; these were the folks upon the pyre and noose. These were the people whose lives were taken for how they felt, loved, though and acted.
The woman who felt great care and respect for the earth at her feet, the man who loved another man with all his heart, the woman who reflected upon her place in the world and the place of all people, and the man who was not a man, but something else…
These were the folk whom the woodland morned so,
These were the lost, alone, left to go
Where the darkness would hide them, and no sunlight would fall
To remind us of those who were not different at all.
For we all feel different, we all feel the same,
We love who we love, for the heart is not tame,
The thoughts that seem different, build the same thought
The actions we act, don’t contrast as they ought.
So long the flames lit up the sky and the smoke, blocked out the stars. So many, screamed into the night for a redemption that would never come. So deep was the pain that soaked into the cobbles to the sound of joyous applause… that it attracted the attention of one further than woodland’s reach.
She peered through fire-hinged fog; heard the cries of terror and glee. She felt the earth beneath her and soaked up the fear and satisfaction. And she stepped out of the shrouds of her stoney lair to reveal to each of us, what exists beyond the veils within us all.
It was the shortest day of the year, when the sky would turn black earlier than ever before, and more ropes were knotted and branches cut for the festivities to begin. It was this night that she came… it was this night The Fell Witch would change Romanknowes in ways it had not known, since that pesky imp fiddled with the letters on all the signs.
For before it was you, she, them, me and him
Today, those yet to come and those who have been
Tomorrow, who knows from the knows to tryst
What rights we may know and what wrongs we have missed.
For the fell witch reminds us of what lurks inside,
The fingers we point and the lies that we hide,
We protest that we’re good and others are bad,
Yet, she knows all our cobbles yet to come, that we had.
And now Old Hobbs Cross stands alone and unapologetic for the horrors of that night… the night of the Fell Witch. It remains shrouded in a dusky haze that obscures those at a distance from remembering. Whilst those who dare step into the fog, or are pushed their by others, can see… when we are looking at the bricks and the cobbles, we miss what exists beyond.
All of us may meet that noose or pyre—for those who scream with joy today, may wail in agony tomorrow; for the darkness of Old Hobbs Cross does not mind if it is you or I, it takes into its care; just as long as somebody is fooled into thinking their means of attaining is the light, is to cast another into shadow.
For who forgets the murk of Old Hobbs Cross,
Forgets the pain and forgets the loss,
Forges a path to the fell witch, a path to strife
For Stories are Stories, and life is life.