Anyone who knows me will know I’m an unabashed Tudor F-A-N-A-T-I-C. I can’t get enough of ol’ Henry and his naughty ways. Or his wives and kids. Here’s a little piece I wrote a while back for flash fiction. Oddly enough, a few people got the character wrong. Ha! True fans of the era will know.
To many, it’s just a glorious morning in May. Elizabeth is not here, and she will not remember this day, yet she will never forget it. The blossom reminds me of my wedding day, but the thought brings me no comfort. Their sweet fragrance stabs at my heart for I shall never smell them again, or see such a beautiful sky, or feel the warmth of a spring sun.
My ladies spent hours combing my hair, making it shine. Funny. They said it was important I looked my best, and then hid it beneath a plain white bonnet. My dress is simple at least, no irony there.
So, I see the steps, and my legs are dull as weights as I reluctantly climb them. I mentally say goodbye to the grass as my feet leave the earth for the last time. They are waiting for me. The priest is here with his head bowed in modest piety. He knows my innocence, and I wonder which one of us he prays for. He doesn’t look me in the eye as I pray in front of him. Is that humility or fear?
I brush the hay from my skirt as I stand to address the people. The words come slowly, suggesting a dignity of address, though in truth I’m trying to delay the inevitable. No one listens, not really. They are waiting for the moment when my head leaves my neck. What a show. Will the executioner take it in a single stroke? Dull for them if he does; the more strikes the merrier. After all, they’ve waited this long for a performance.
I requested a special swordsman, and he stands there, his eyes hidden behind a mask. I don’t need to see his face. I never knew him in life and have no desire to be intimate with him at the time of my death. I look instinctively for the block, and then recall there will not be one; I couldn’t bear the thought of an axe. I saw how it cleaved the head from my brother’s neck, and later my husband’s friends. My heart bleeds for them. And for myself. They say this swordsman is good, and death will come swiftly.
I have nothing more to say. Though I am innocent, I kneel one last time and my hands come together in prayer. I pray to God for his mercy. My time is done.