Echo

echo-girl-2

Photo From Pixabay. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Echo

The eyes staring back at me are heavy-lidded and bruised. Stretches of deep purplish chasms encircle irises as flat and brown as bark, their expression the same as ever: accusatory, distrusting, nervous…a clear fuck you and fuck off if ever there was one. I raise one dark eyebrow in silent challenge and am rewarded as she does the same. The corner of her sharp mouth turns down into a sneer and I can’t help but notice that her lips are chapped, marred with tiny indents and tears from gnawing teeth. They stand stark red against the pallor of her skin.

Ugly.

I no sooner think the word then I see it spread slantwise across her brow in inky, determined strokes, written into her skin by an invisible hand. Ugly. The word means the same even when it’s beautifully penned, with curlicues and flourishes, a deep onyx atop porcelain skin. Ugly. Her bitten mouth and hate-filled eyes. Ugly. The endless litany of words tattooed across her flesh, a lifetime’s collection of thoughts and conversations emblazoned forever for the world to see.

Ugly.

I tear my eyes from her in disgust, feeling the contents of my stomach rise, and force myself to continue reading. “For never was there a story of more woe…”

Personally, I can’t help but think Juliet had a simple life all things considered…but it’s no good, I can’t concentrate anymore. The memory of that face haunts me and I sigh, rubbing a hand over my tired eyes in frustration. If I look up, she’ll still be staring at me. Challenging me. Dammit.

This is why I avoid mirrors.

 

I have the whole of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet memorized. Word for word I know every pause, every phrase inside and out. From the first Two households to the final Romeo I can recount the entire play in five hours and seventeen minutes. Of course the words scrawl themselves across my skin as I go, some flashing and fading almost as soon as they appear, while others stake a claim to my flesh, refusing to fade back into obscurity as the play unfolds. I’ve acquired many words this way over the years: the slender rose that follows the arch of my left brow, the bold Mercutio – my favorite of Shakespeare’s characters – that straddles my jutting hip. Since every thought and spoken word reveals itself, I’ve learned to keep Shakespeare on a constant repeat in my head, like a broken record of beautiful words. If I have to be encased by words then I want them to be the work of a master.

I’d like to think the grandeur of his phrases counterbalance the barrage of stupid ones that have stuck for some reason or another over the years. Unconsciously, I glance down at the tiny shampoo curling down the side of my pinky from nail to palm and roll my eyes. I know they don’t, but I live in hope.

My eyes flicker upwards again before I can stop them, as gluttonous as ever for punishment, but this time it’s not myself I see, it truly is a stranger. Startled, I bury my nose back in my book before I remember I don’t need to hide, the library is my private sanctuary, especially in the middle of summer. He’s the one out of place.

Still, I lean forward, shaking my head slightly until the mass of brown-black hair falls against my cheeks, better covering my face and neck. My exposed fingers itch for the gloves I shed as soon as I arrived but putting them on now would do nothing but draw attention and it’s too hot in here for the damn things anyway.

I’m bristling now. Agitated.

Why is he here? I want to leave but I refuse to be driven out. Instead I fume. Silently cursing the stranger and whatever drove him to interrupt my peace. Well… as close to peace as I ever come. Doesn’t he know who haunts this place? I sneak a glance at him beneath lowered lashes. He doesn’t look familiar… with a jolt I realize the book he’s reading does though. I would recognize that peeling leather binding anywhere, let alone the tea still staining the tops of the pages from a mishap years ago. Hamlet.

Hmmm.

At least he appreciates the work of a true artist.

Inexplicably soothed, I return to my own copy of Shakespeare and finish the final line: than this of Juliet and her Romeo. On their own accord, my fingers flip back the pages, turn back the story to the prologue. Certainly Shakespeare’s finale is beautiful, but I always hate when the story ends. It’s not the sadness of the characters’ fate, everyone dies, but the thought that there are finally no more words that ruffles me. In fair Verona where we lay our scene.

He’s definitely a stranger. Early thirties I would guess, a few years older than myself, with dark, chin-length hair, broad, powerful shoulders and long legs that stretch out beneath the table he’s claimed. Casually hunched, his head rests in one palm, eyes downward, his whole being absorbed by what he’s reading. Even his lips move along, forming each new word in silence, completely enraptured. I recognize the sight.

I’m watching him, I know, but I can’t help it. He’s intriguing, and handsome – there’s no use denying it. Without warning, he looks up. His eyes are a bright blue with a hint of sage green, an odd, singular mixture. His expression is dreamy at first, lost in thought until his gaze sharpens and his eyes lock on me, seeing me at last. Heat rises beneath my skin and I look down in time to see desirable scroll along the outer curve of my wrist. Mortified, I snatch my hands to my chest and force myself to keep reading. My only love sprung from my only hate. Too early seen unknown and known too late. I swear, sometimes I just want to shake Juliet and tell her to wake the hell up.

The desirable hasn’t faded.

Seconds tick by, minutes, how long I’m not sure. I keep reading, keep my eyes trained on the words, until the fire leaves my skin and my fingers relax their death-grip on my forearms. I really should leave now, but I can’t get my legs to move. Maybe he’s gone, maybe he’s left already. I should check but I can’t do that either. I’m stuck here, locked inside myself with the words of Shakespeare ringing in my mind, but I’m not listening to them anymore. I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave.

“Hello.”

I consider it a personal miracle that I don’t fall out of my chair.

His voice is directly in front of me. Too close for him to still be sitting. I glance upward, unwilling to face him completely head on, and find that he’s standing just on the other side of my wooden table, hands clasped behind his back and a smile on his lips. For a moment we just stare at one another until I realize he’s waiting for me to say something. Good luck with that. I nod jerkily and his grin grows wider. My eyes narrow, looking for malice or ridicule, but I find neither.

“Do you mind if I join you?” His words are warm, like an embrace, his voice deep, cultured. He’s definitely not from here. Why? I don’t ask, won’t ask, but I let my gaze travel from him to the empty chair and back. He understands and within seconds we’re eye to eye, staring again. I feel his gaze as he takes in the words marking my face, or what he can see of it. I let him look.

“Do they not all fade? The others, when you were reading, they disappeared, but these are still here.” He touches his brow and I know he’s looking at the rose. His gaze is soft, thoughtful as he brings his eyes back to mine. I shake my head. His friendliness make me nervous. People are never this calm around me.

“I’ve never seen a girl wear Shakespeare so prettily.” My eyes are rolling and I release an exasperated sigh before I can stop myself. But he’s chuckling and I find I’m smiling. It’s a small smile. But still. “I’m Sebastian.”

My name flickers to life on the back of one hand, getting his attention. “Tara,” he reads quietly. “That’s a beautiful name.” I’ve never thought so, but it sounds different when he says it.

“I would ask what you’re reading, but I think I can guess.”

The look I give him needs no translation but he just smiles and his eyes take on that faraway look again.

 “Let me be ta’en. Let me be put to death. I am content, so thou wilt have it so. I’ll say yon grey is not the morning’s eye. ‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow. Nor that the lark, whose notes so beat the vaulty heaven so high about our heads. I have more care to stay than will to go. Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.

My excitement is instantaneous and insuppressible, surprising even me. With a clap of enthusiasm, I nod happily, while a smile, a real one, tips my lips upward. My fingers find the frayed cover of my book and I press it to my heart. Beautiful flashes beneath my right eye, reflected back at me from a glass case close by.

“Beautiful,” he repeats. He’s staring at me again, but I don’t mind. He’s not judging… just looking. I tuck a lock of hair behind my ear and point to the book he brought with him.

“I’m a little rusty on my Hamlet,” he admits with a wince. “I haven’t read it since high school actually, but I have an audition later and I figured a little Shakespeare never hurt anyone.”

An audition?

“I’m an actor,” he says, answering my unspoken question, then chuckles, shoving a hand through his dark hair, sweeping it out of his eyes. “Or so I keep telling myself.”

I don’t know what to make of this but I’m intrigued and I don’t want him to stop speaking. I’m leaning forward now, nodding slightly. Something passes over his features but it’s gone in an instant and his beautiful smile is back and those bright eyes are fixed on mine.

“What about you?”

My mouth curves downward and I sit back in my seat in dissatisfaction. I don’t want to talk about me. He sees this, sees my withdrawal, but doesn’t change the subject or ask another question. He just waits. Seconds pass by. My heart thumps like an anvil in my chest. What does he want me to say? What I am?

A freak. Ugly. Monster. Word-collector. Shakespeare-reader. Lonely. Angry.

I’m all these things but I don’t want to say these things to this man, though I’m sure they’re etched somewhere on me right now. But he isn’t looking for them. He’s waiting. Giving me time to decide what I want to say, if I want to say anything. If for no other reason, this makes me want to speak.

What am I?

I don’t even think I know. I’ve never been able to choose what to tell someone before, it’s almost as frightening as having no choice at all.

What am I?

It really shouldn’t be this difficult.

It’s not until his fingers settle over mine, like warm butter curving around to encase my hand that I realize how tense I am. A sigh escapes me before I can stop it and I’m sucking in air like someone who’s nearly drowned. His hand is stroking mine; warm, beautiful skin against, pale, inked skin. It’s almost hypnotic. I can’t remember the last time someone has touched me. I try to pull away, embarrassed at myself, the situation, his kindness, but his hand tightens on mine, catching me before I can escape.

There’s another choice here.

I let him keep my hand. His fingers curve against the inside of my wrist, stroking my palm with some strange magic that both calms and excites me. I manage a small smile in thanks but the irony of the situation leaves me almost giddy and lightheaded. Words. Words. Words. My life is nothing but words, I take them in and spit them out, and now they’ve failed me. What would Shakespeare think?

Frailty, thy name is woman.

Ha. Shakespeare’s so damn applicable.

With a reckless, unexplainable grin that feels so strange, and foreign, and wonderful, I meet his eyes again and shrug. I have no idea how to tell him who or what I am. I guess if he really wants to know he’ll just have to wait and find out.

Smile-lines crinkle around those blue eyes and my stomach flips into my throat. “An enigma then. I figured as much.”

 

 

Two days later and wouldn’t you know it, the Daily Prompt is Silence . Coincedence? I think not! 😀

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Happy National Siblings Day!

In honor of National Siblings Day my lovelies…I hope you enjoy!

Maka_Mugetsu_full_1210444

Image Credit:  http://www.zerochan.net/1210444

Starling

Once upon a time there was a girl born of a wish — the most powerful and ancient sort of magick.

Her mother, looking up to the splendor of the Great Moon one dark evening, had wished for a child all her own, and in her benevolence, the Moon gave her a beautiful daughter. This child born of the greatest of wishes was named Moon Maiden and she was loved and cherished from her first breath.

The joy and love between mother and daughter was fierce and bright, and grew all the greater with the dawning of each new day. But as the years passed and the girl-child grew, she became terribly lonely. More than anything she wanted a companion, a playmate to share in all her adventures, and though her mother would deny her nothing, this was something she simply could not give.

“You were given to me by the Great Moon, my love” her mother explained, tucking Moon Maiden into her small, warm bed for the evening. She kissed the little girl’s brow and sat beside her.

“And could the Great Moon not give you another child Momma?” Moon Maiden asked, her youthful hope refusing to be dashed so quickly.

“I think not my love,” her mother said sadly, unwilling to break her little one’s heart. “For who can expect more than one great wish in a lifetime to come true? And I used my wish for you. I do not think I can have a second.”

“I understand,” Moon Maiden whimpered, little silver tears falling down her plump cheeks. She said no more, but kissed her mother good night and laid down to sleep.

But little Moon Maiden did not sleep. Instead she waited for the soft sound of her mother’s sleepy snore before stealing away into the forest around her home in search of a glimpse of the inky night sky above the canopy of tall trees. Her mother could not help her, but that was alright, Momma had used her wish, but she still had hers. She didn’t know what to do, but she knew she had to try.

She walked further and further into the forest that was her second home until at last the white light of the moon and the glimmering sparkle of starlight shone down upon her lovingly. She stopped, hopeful that this would be a good spot for wishing. A little frightened, but more determined than ever, she closed her eyes and tilted her little face skyward.

“Hello?” she began, her voice uncertain but clear. “My name is Moon Maiden and I was born of a wish — my mother’s. She wished for me and the Great Moon gave me to her.” She was not sure the Great Moon would remember her after these five long years and thought a little reminder could not hurt. “I am very happy here in the forest with Mother…but I get so very lonely. There are no other children to play with, Mother says they’re frightened of me, but I so badly want a friend…”

The little girl’s voice became wistful, and her heart swelled with all the love she had inside her. It was a great deal. There was magic in the air now, she felt it as the moonbeams tickled her skin in remembrance. She opened her mouth to speak, sure now that she would be heard, but stopped before the wish spilled out. Her mother had wished on the Great Moon and the Moon gave her a daughter. If she wished on it now, would she be given another girl-child, a sister?

She didn’t know for certain, but she imagined having a sister would be like having another version of herself, nothing special in that. She would love whatever she was given, but if she had the choice…

I want a brother, she thought fervently, a baby brother to call my own.

But who was she to wish to for such a thing? Surely not the Moon with her gentle, billowing light. No, the Great Moon would not do for this, but maybe the other lights in the night sky held some power. Perhaps they would help?

“Great Stars, I wish for a brother of my very own. A friend to share all my adventures with, who I can love forever as Mother loves me. Please hear me. Please.”

She stood quietly for a time, imagining the brother of her dreams — in case the stars should need a little inspiration — before raising her palms to the sky and spinning round once, twice, three times beneath the shining starlight, just for good measure.

And when at last she crawled back into the warmth of her bed, Moon Maiden fell asleep with a small smile and dreamed of a little boy with nut-brown hair and grass-green eyes. A brother, a real one, a friend to call her own. A great wish made of the greatest of love.

*****

“Tell me again,” he said, snuggling closer and rubbing his tired green eyes with a chubby little fist.

Moon Maiden wrapped her arm around his little shoulders and hugged him close. He nestled the top of his head against her side, tickling her arm with his nut-brown hair as she settled in to tell his favorite bedtime story yet again. It was a tale she never tired of.

“Once upon a time my Starling,” she began, pointing to the night sky, to the place both their stories began and feeling that familiar thump of love in her heart. “Once upon a time I wished for you.”

*This story, while definitely fantasy, is actually based on true events my lovelies. My mother did wish upon the moon (or rather moonbeams) for me and with in a month I was conceived (although unlike Moon Maiden, I do have a father lol), and I did pray for a baby brother every night before I went to sleep, until finally I was given one. In a way, this is the story of my family 😀

(P.S. Happy National Siblings Day to my amazing little brother. You were my Great Wish <3)

Starling

starry-night-wallpaper-3

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Starling

Once upon a time there was a girl born of a wish –the most powerful and ancient sort of magick.

Her mother, looking up to the splendor of the Great Moon one dark evening, had wished for a child all her own, and in her benevolence, the Moon gave her a beautiful daughter. This child born of the greatest of wishes was named Moon Maiden and she was loved and cherished from her first breath.

The joy and love between mother and daughter was fierce and bright, and grew all the greater with the dawning of each new day. But as the years passed and the girl-child grew, she became terribly lonely. More than anything she wanted a companion, a playmate to share in all her adventures, and though her mother would deny her nothing, this was something she simply could not give.

“You were given to me by the Great Moon, my love” her mother explained, tucking Moon Maiden into her small, warm bed for the evening. She kissed the little girl’s brow and sat beside her.

“And could the Great Moon not give you another child Momma?” Moon Maiden asked, her youthful hope refusing to be dashed so quickly.

“I think not my love,” her mother said sadly, unwilling to break her little one’s heart. “For who can expect more than one great wish in a lifetime to come true? And I used my wish for you. I do not think I can have a second.”

“I understand,” Moon Maiden whimpered, little silver tears falling down her plump cheeks. She said no more, but kissed her mother good night and laid down to sleep.

But little Moon Maiden did not sleep. Instead she waited for the soft sound of her mother’s sleepy snore before stealing away into the forest around her home in search of a glimpse of the inky night sky above the canopy of tall trees. Her mother could not help her, but that was alright, Momma had used her wish, but she still had hers. She didn’t know what to do, but she knew she had to try.

She walked further and further into the forest that was her second home until at last the white light of the moon and the glimmering sparkle of starlight shone down upon her lovingly. She stopped, hopeful that this would be a good spot for wishing. A little frightened, but more determined than ever, she closed her eyes and tilted her little face skyward.

“Hello?” she began, her voice uncertain but clear. “My name is Moon Maiden and I was born of a wish — my mother’s. She wished for me and the Great Moon gave me to her.” She was not sure the Great Moon would remember her after these five long years and thought a little reminder could not hurt. “I am very happy here in the forest with Mother…but I get so very lonely. There are no other children to play with, Mother says they’re frightened of me, but I so badly want a friend…”

The little girl’s voice became wistful, and her heart swelled with all the love she had inside her. It was a great deal. There was magic in the air now, she felt it as the moonbeams tickled her skin in remembrance. She opened her mouth to speak, sure now that she would be heard, but stopped before the wish spilled out. Her mother had wished on the Great Moon and the Moon gave her a daughter. If she wished on it now, would she be given another girl-child, a sister?

She didn’t know for certain, but she imagined having a sister would be like having another version of herself, nothing special in that. She would love whatever she was given, but if she had the choice…

I want a brother, she thought fervently, a baby brother to call my own.

But who was she to wish to for such a thing? Surely not the Moon with her gentle, billowing light. No, the Great Moon would not do for this, but maybe the other lights in the night sky held some power. Perhaps they would help?

“Great Stars, I wish for a brother of my very own. A friend to share all my adventures with, who I can love forever as Mother loves me. Please hear me. Please.”

She stood quietly for a time, imagining the brother of her dreams — in case the stars should need a little inspiration — before raising her palms to the sky and spinning round once, twice, three times beneath the shining starlight, just for good measure.

And when at last she crawled back into the warmth of her bed, Moon Maiden fell asleep with a small smile and dreamed of a little boy with nut-brown hair and grass-green eyes. A brother, a real one, a friend to call her own. A great wish made of the greatest of love.

*****

“Tell me again,” he said, snuggling closer and rubbing his tired green eyes with a chubby little fist.

Moon Maiden wrapped her arm around his little shoulders and hugged him close. He nestled the top of his head against her side, tickling her arm with his nut-brown hair as she settled in to tell his favorite bedtime story yet again. It was a tale she never tired of.

“Once upon a time my Starling,” she began, pointing to the night sky, to the place both their stories began and feeling that familiar thump of love in her heart. “Once upon a time I wished for you.”

*This story, while definitely fantasy, is actually based on true events my lovelies. My mother did wish upon the moon (or rather moonbeams) for me and with in a month I was conceived (although unlike Moon Maiden, I do have a father lol), and I did pray for a baby brother every night before I went to sleep, until finally I was given one. In a way, this is the story of my family 😀

I’m even thinking of turning this into a children’s book (hence the simplified language and sentence structure lol), and though I’ve never had any interest before in writing children’s stories,  I see pictures in my head so clearly  (I  so wish I could draw!) and more adventures ahead for Starling and Moon Maiden. And anyway, it might be fun to dabble with a different type of storytelling every now and then. 😀

Cantarella

Hello my lovelies, I’ve a little flash fiction for you here inspired by my latest obsession: The Borgias! I found a book two weeks ago that I must have bought ages ago and it had two novels centered on this family I’d never heard of: the Borgias. After reading them I promptly watched the Showtime series and fell under it’s captivating spell and pretty much did nothing else this past weekend but binge watch this epic show. So with Borgias on the brain, I wrote this piece today, it doesn’t follow the show or anything, it’s just a random piece of something fluttered around in my mind the last few days. And no, the narrator is not Lucrezia, though I totally ship her and Cesare in the series. And if you know the family and know what I’m talking about, don’t judge, just watch the show, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch the show anyway, it’s freaking amazing! 😀

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

Cantarella

His dark eyes glittered dangerously as his sensuous mouth curved into a hungry smile, the Borgia smile. My heart quickened painfully and I struggled to breathe. You fool. Nothing sated this man, nothing and no one was ever enough, this I knew. I was courting ruin and death but still I wanted those black eyes on me with all that hunger, passion, and blatant calculation asking the one question I was wondering myself: will I be the one he’s searched for? Or will I just be another passing stranger with whom he’ll spend a few hours lost in frenzied pleasure?

He stalked towards me, all feral wildness and brutal grace, his gaze never leaving mine. I trembled and shook, from fright as much as desire, and felt something yet unknown to me burst into shattering life. I swayed, gripping the polished wooden table to steady myself as he drew ever nearer, until he was at last before me.

“We’ve not been introduced,” he said, his voice a seductive growl that did strange things to my insides. “I’m Cesare Borgia.”

“I know,” I answered breathlessly, foolishly, and felt the flush of heat redden my skin. “I…I mean…”

But he was chuckling and I found myself mesmerized by the darkness of his masculine beauty. A lock of curling chestnut hair fell into his eyes and he brushed it away, only to have it fall once again. Without thought, I reached out and tucked the strands behind his ear, my fingers trailing against his jaw for the briefest of moments.

It was enough and I was lost. Whether he merely desired my body or demanded my immortal soul, I was his and he knew it. His eyes widened, the hunger within them deepening and I remembered again the rumors that surrounded this enigmatic son of a Pope. This was a man with blood on his hands and poison in his veins. He was every bit as deadly as the Cantarella he favored.

I would never be enough for him. Nothing ever would be, I realized as his fingers enclosed mine in a solid, unbreakable grip, lifting my hand to his mouth for a promising kiss. My knees threatened to buckle, but I held his teasing gaze, unwilling to surrender just yet. No, I would never be enough for this man. But for tonight he was mine and already I felt myself sinking down into the bliss and the pain that was Cesare Borgia. He needed no other poison, he was Cantarella itself and I would die happily this night.

Sea Salt

Hello my lovelies, since I wrote about the importance of fairy tales earlier this week, I figured I’d post what I have so far of a Selkie fairy tale that I’m writing. It’s rough and no where near completion, but I love the images in it anyway. I hope you like it!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google.
All Rights Belong To Artist.

SEA SALT

Salt was everywhere; it swirled up from the deep, grey water beneath the boat and clung heavy to the mist that swayed to the hypnotic rhythm of the choppy sea. Coarse and pungent, it ate away at the aging metal that barely kept the craft afloat and roughened the skin and the hearts of the men who busied themselves around the deck. Abril Ansley had never seen so much salt and endless grey in her entire life. The ocean that stretched between the Orkney Islands and the long-awaited Ireland was a vast canvas of swirling grey and white, matching her melancholy perfectly. She sat quiet and ignored on the back deck of the small fishing vessel whose captain had reluctantly allowed her to travel with them, provided she stay out of the crew’s way and not cause any trouble amongst the men. Little to fear there.

The men aboard the Fey Daughter were good natured enough, friendly even after seeing that she would cause no trouble, but Abril was not in the mood to be surrounded by a group of gossipy, superstitious old men. She kept to herself, preferring to sit alone in her little spot, staring at the horizon and occasionally drifting a hand in the frozen water. The crew thought her odd, touched by the faeries, or so she had overheard once or twice, but she never corrected them. It hurt too much to think of explaining the truth; besides, they would laugh at her if they thought she was moping after some boy back in Orkney. He was just a boy, she reminded herself, a boy who lied. The truth, however sugar-coated, was still a bitter draft to swallow.

Icy wind whipped long strands of salt-encrusted hair into Abril’s damp face, smudging the tears she didn’t know had fallen down her stinging cheeks. Wiping a pale hand over her dark eyes, she cleared her throat and sat up straighter; there was no use looking back, not when Ireland loomed so close in her future. Beautiful, sacred Ireland, the home of her mother’s people; she was coming home to a place she had only ever dreamt of.

“Beggin’ your pardon Miss Abril, but we’ll be putting into port today; sometime round five I’d say, yeh might want to be gettin’ your things together.”

“Thank you Captain.”

Abril smiled up at the weather-beaten face of a rather handsome, albeit graying, man in his late forties. Gruff and tired, Captain Liam O’Conner loomed over her, tall, dark and solid; a man forged from the rigors of living a life on the sea. He had little time to waste worrying over a small thing of a lass, but something in her weary frame touched his heart. Perhaps it was her eyes, so open and brave, with the smoke of pain shifting beneath the surface. Someone had used her ill, he’d bet his cap on it but he would never ask; she didn’t seem like the talkative type and he wasn’t one to pry into business not his own.

He stood silent for a moment, expecting her to up and go below to pack what little she had brought but when she didn’t he sighed and bent down to cup her tender face with one large callused hand. “Buck-up chick, there’s no better place for healin’ that the soil of Erin, she’ll put yeh back to rights before yeh know it.”

Abril smiled wide and beautiful, easing into the mask of happiness that comforted those who were unnerved by her somber reserve. “I’m sure it will, thank you. I’ll go and pack now if you please.”

Liam stepped back to let the girl pass, not fooled by her beguiling smile for a moment but content to let her alone, “There’s a lass. Another two hours and we’ll be home.”

“Home.”

~~~~~

“Is your stuff ready for port? We’ll be docking within the next twenty minutes or so, depending on the tide.”

Abril nodded, shivering despite the added warmth of the extra sweater she’d thrown on before leaving her cabin for the last time. “Packed and ready.”

They stood in silence for a minute or two, each breathing in the tangy ocean air before Abril continued, “I think a week at sea is exactly what I needed. I wanted to thank you again Captain…for taking me along. I appreciate it more than you know…”

Liam shuffled, uncomfortable with the polite thanks, “Aye, that’s enough of that talk lass. For all that you’re a quiet thing, you’ve been good company for a group of salty old men. We’ll not be forgettin’ yeh. Now if this damnable fog would just life you’d be able to see the shore, but as that’s unlikely now I’d advise yeh goin’ and sitting in your spot and keepin’ a close eye on the water. The seals should be about here somewhere.”

A real smile lighted across Abril face like the sun glimmering upon the morning water, “Seals? Really?!”

“Aye, seals are protected in Ireland, sacred some calls ‘em but the little lechers are always tearing up my nets! But they’re always here and about this time of the year so you’re sure to see one sooner or later. Steady there Ronald! What are you two doing…?”

With the Captain’s attention occupied elsewhere Abril drifted down to the lower deck and peered over the edge of the boat expectantly. The water was close enough that she could easily dunk her arm under the surface up to her elbow, but there was no sign of any of the Captain’s seals. She sighed; I wish I could see one, just one. An idea suddenly gripped her as her mother’s favorite phrase echoed in the recesses of her mind: `you cannot receive without first giving’! Abril ripped the thin silver chain that lay warm around her neck and held it up to inspect. The single pink pearl that Jack had given her months before dangled precariously in the middle of the silver ropes. What could it hurt to try, she was Irish after all, maybe they would hear her? Spirits of the water please, I wish to see a seal. Take this gift as my payment to you, pressing the pearl to her lips one last time Abril flung the necklace as far away from the boat as she could manage. A small splashy plop was her only satisfaction, it landed somewhere out in the swirling mist; the bitter part of her mind wanted to watch it sink down into the inky blackness.

With a renewed fervor, Abril leaned again over the ledge; the wet wood bit into her soft hands, leaving behind tiny flecks of green wood buried into her palms. Minutes passed but still there was nothing but the continuous rippling of waves lapping against the hull; “Damn it.” Defeated, Abril plunked her head down on the warped wood and wrapped her arms out in front of her with her fingers splaying atop the water. Planting her legs firmly on the deck she moved to lie on her stomach across the ledge.

Rubies and Gold

Mask Image From Google

Mask Image From Google

Silken dresses twirled in circles, gleaming black and gold. Glittering suits of ancient armor stood guard and tables laden with untouched food enclosed the hall while laughter and music filled the ballroom — decorated just for this occasion. The guests were dressed in their finest, from wispy silken wraps and downy velvets to ornate gold and silver masks. Peacocks and lions, wolves and butterflies spun in circles; their faces there but in a moment nowhere to be seen.

No words were spoken; partners conversed through the flashing of eyes, suggestive smiles, and tender touches. All were joyous, the time had come and soon she would arrive. They had waited for her so long, too long said most. But all was to be well now, their future secure.

As the clock struck midnight the Lord of the castle made his way through the crowd and up onto the raised dais, holding out his hand to help the young women who stood beside him. Her gleaming chestnut hair shone in the candlelight as it cascaded down her back, interlaced here and there with golden clasps and ruby pins. She was a vision. Soft alabaster skin glowed luminously against the blood-red of her gown and the deep shine of her dark hair.

The clock struck midnight for the last time and applause rung out through the hall. The thunder echoed off every wall, every crevice until it consumed the ears of the guests. But nothing echoed louder than that of the screams.

He Didn’t Leave

Forest Scene- found on Facebook

Forest Scene- found on Facebook

 

I fear being left behind, uncared for…alone, and you were leaving early.

Panic.

Nightmare.

Fearful, I cried. I don’t think you heard me, but you may’ve.

Be brave, I thought, only to discover you were staying after all.

“Did you change your plans for me?”

“Does it matter?”

Yes.

 

This is for the Weekly Challenge for the Daily Post and was inspired by my awesome brother. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/writing-challenge-fifty/

Of Royal Blood: Pt Two

Image From Google

Image From Google

Of Royal Blood: Pt Two

“Guildford don’t you see, it’s perfect! They will never suspect a thing, why would they?!” Her excitement was almost visible in the darkened room; she inched her hand forward and laced her fingers through his. He gave her an encouraging squeeze before shifting under her so that she lay curled in his arms, her head on his chest. She listened to the steady sound of his breathing, his heart thudding softly against her ear.

“While I do agree my dear that this scheme of yours does sound rather intriguing,” he skimmed his fingertips down her side, causing her to squirm in delight and swat his hand away playfully. “I must wonder at how I am to pull it off. Surely you do not expect me to loathe you so vehemently; I think I would be a poor actor indeed.”

“I do not expect you to truly abhor me silly, but I am sure you could pretend just nicely. Yell at me, ignore me, run to that horrid mother of yours and complain about how wretched I am; it cannot be that difficult. Mind you this is only to be done in the public’s eyes, for if I find it carries over I will be most displeased and you will find I can easily give you ample cause to dislike me. But as for the pretense just improvise, I’m sure you can get ideas from watching our parents in action.” Her words were meant in jest, but Jane felt her husband stiffen around her.

“Never,” he whispered so quietly she had to strain to hear him.

“Hmm?”

He lay quiet for a moment before answering, “My father…often strikes my mother.”

This was no surprise to Jane, almost every marriage she knew of involved violence, even her own parents fought tooth and nail at times. Mostly she was the outlet for their rage but she had seen her mother cover more than one black eye with her cosmetic paint. It stunned her that Guildford was so unnerved about it though, but she could not deny it made her happy. “I do not expect you to hit me Guildford.” She said seriously, snuggling closer to him.

“Good, because I won’t.”

“I know dear, but we mustn’t let them think that we like one another. I am sure our parents did not force us to marry out of the goodness of their black hearts. No…they are up to something I’m sure of it, and you know what will happen if they discover out true…feelings. Every time they want for something it will be our job to produce whatever it is for them, even if it puts our necks on the chopping block. They would use you against me and me against you.”

“Don’t they do that already love?” Guildford asked, twisting a lock of her hair round and round.

“Yes, but you know it would be different. I do not want them to hurt you Guildford and they would, in one fashion or another. You know as well as I, there is more than one way to wound someone.”

Jane looked up when her nurse Ms. Ellen shook her shoulder lightly. “My Lady Jane, did you hear me? We must be going now. It’s time.”

Everyone was staring at her like they feared she had finally snapped. “I am sorry Madame; I don’t know what came over me.” Tossing her head back proudly Jane began the long walk to the top of the hill, leaving the others to gawk after her. She ate up the distance in her long stride. There was no use trying to prolong the inevitable and she tired of its constant presence in the back of her mind. Enough of this slow agonizing death, she was ready to live.

“My Lady, please…slow down,” Dr. Feckenham huffed, she could hear the old man wheezing as he fought to catch up with her. “Do not give up hope Lady Jane, Queen Mary may yet send out a royal pardon.”

“Doctor you know as well as I that Queen Mary will not pardon me, the usurper.” Feckenham opened his mouth to contradict her when Jane stopped abruptly and whipped around to face him. “Do not think I am a hopeful fool, I know very well what will happen when we reach the top of Tower Hill. The Queen did not pardon my husband did she? There is no chance then of my receiving this saving grace from Mary, now is there?! Do not patronize me Sir, I deserve more than that.”

“Yes, My Lady.”

Mollified slightly, Jane returned to her galloping pace. Her breathing was suddenly erratic, her blood pumped in her ears. It was unusual for her to lose her temper like that. Tantrums had never been her prerogative, nor would they have gotten her anywhere. Punches, slaps, pinches and beatings; her parents did not tolerate insubordination. Thinking back on it, Jane realized she had only ever tried to refuse her parents twice in her entire life: once when they announced her impending marriage to Guildford Dudley, and once when they proclaimed her the new Queen of England. The Protestant queen they needed, England’s savior was what they called her after her cousin, the King’s death. For nine days she had been their bloody Protestant Queen and look where it had gotten her.

“We must have a protestant ruler Jane, even one as dim-witted as you should know that!” Northumberland sneered as he wrapped his thick fingers around her slender wrist and bent down to press his lips to her hand; a grotesque display.

Her mind was buzzing, Queen! How could she be Queen of all England, it wasn’t her right, she was not meant for this! “No.”

“Jane! You stupid girl, you will do as you are told!” The hand her mother brought down upon her cheek was heavily decorated. It was obvious that she had already picked through the royal jewels and had chosen her share.

“No mother, I cannot…Mary is to be Queen, not me…I…I cannot…”

The slap that followed from her father knocked her to the floor. She held a hand to her reddened face, tears clouded her vision.

“Father…oomph!” A hard kick to her stomach and she reeled in agony as waves of nausea curled her inward, unable to breathe.

“NO! YOU WILL OBEY!”

“But father, Mary…” another blow to her gullet and she began to sob openly.

“Mary is the Catholic daughter of that Spanish whore, we cannot have a Catholic on throne she would kill us all. She cannot be Queen!”

“But Elizabeth then…”

“Elizabeth! The witch’s daughter, you would put our country in the hands of a witch, a devil-worshiper!”

Northumberland yanked her up roughly with by a fistful of her hair. “No, it is you that must be Queen, and my son King. You will name him King! Your mother has graciously given up her place in line for you and you will do as you are ordered.  Do you understand?”

Jane shook her head. No, this was not what God intended. She was not born to be Queen.

Northumberland’s face turned a dangerous red and spittle flew from his lips, “You will make my son King!”

But she had not crowned Guildford. She tried to save him by keeping that title from him. They had forced the crown on her, almost killing her in the process but she didn’t want that for her husband. Once she was proclaimed Jane, Queen of England there was nothing her family or his could do about it.

Winded, Jane paused when she finally reached the top of the mound. There before her stood her death; tall and imposing she could see the block sitting against the railing of the wooden scaffold. The people who came to watch her die mulled around impatiently until they caught sight of her. A collective murmur ran rampant, the woman who stood before them looked too young to be dangerous, too beautiful to be put to death. The black silk gown she wore lifted gently in the breeze and there in the slit sleeves the crowd got a glimpse of the blood red silk that Ms. Ellen had sewn in hurriedly the past night. The people shuddered. The poor girl, she had the courage of a queen.

Jane waited for the others to catch up to her before taking a step toward the wooden structure. Please God I ask you for strength, for forgiveness, please be with me now! The crowd parted when she reached them, men whipped off their caps and women bowed their heads. Everyone but Jane prayed for a pardon from Queen Mary. It only took a few seconds for her to reach the scaffold. Slowly now, she lifted her foot and placed it gingerly on the first wooden stair. Her legs shook as she placed her weight on the stair but were mercifully hidden beneath her black skirts; nonetheless Jane was thankful there was only four stairs for her to climb.

One.

Two.

Guildford, three.

Please, four.

A black clad man stepped towards her when she reached the floor, “Do you forgive me  My Lady?”

Her throat closed suddenly. Finally after all these months this was it. Squaring her shoulders, Jane lifted her head and stared directly at the gentleman. “I do Sir.” With a wave of her hand, Ms. Ellen and her other handmaidens stepped forth and began removing Jane’s cloak and collar. When they had completed their work the two ladies squeezed their mistress’s hands in support before slowly backing away.

The block of wood before her was stained a permanent rust color but the hay around it was fresh and clean. “I am ready.”  The executioner stood behind her for a moment before wrapping a black cloth securely around her eyes. The sun died, the sky tumbled from the heavens and the ground vanished beneath her until all she could see was the black of the night as it swallowed her whole.

“Kneel and spread your arms My Lady,” the executioner said bluntly.

Jane sank to her knees in an almost faint-like motion, her arms limp at her side. Oh God, please… Slowly like she was dragging them through water, she lifted her arms and reached for the block of wood before her… but it was not there. Her stomach began to rise in her throat. Where was it, was this some kind of sick jest on her part, was she to suffer more?! “Where is it?” she demanded, “Where is it?!” Jane could hear the sound of people gasping and a woman sobbing in front of her before she felt the vibration of someone coming towards her. Whoever it was grabbed her hands and placed them on the rough wooden square, “There you are My Lady.”

“Thank you.” She wasn’t sure if the words spilled from her lips or not, but she no longer cared. Placing her neck to the block she breathed deeply, sucking in all life as she remembered it and all she hoped it would be once this was over. Guildford. He was waiting for her. With a small smile on her lips she let go and threw wide her arms…

Of Royal Blood: Pt One

This is a short story I wrote my first year of college and I will section it off into two or three parts for length reasons. Look for part two tomorrow!

Image From Google

Image From Google

                                                                                                                                          Of Royal Blood: Pt One

Royalty flowed thick in her blood, it burned through her veins and scarred every inch of her young body. Sadly, this disfiguration was masked beneath smooth porcelain skin, sparkling red-flecked brown eyes, curling lashes and ripened lips. Suffice it to say, the Lady Jane Grey was a beauty like no other, a royal beauty at that and thus all the more important. And so these golden-traits made her something else all together, they made her dangerous.

Jane’s heart constricted when a hollow knock sounded at the large wooden door across from where she lay strewn across her bed. The gown her nurse, Ms. Ellen, had stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning altering for her, rustled soothingly as she rose to greet the man who had become in a way her greatest friend during these troubled times. He looked as he always did, hurried and grim. She often wondered if he had forgotten how to smile long ago or if it were a new occurrence.

“Good morrow Doctor Feckenham. I trust you are well?” Her voice was soft, feminine but far from weak.

The old man noted the blaze of hair that spilled over her young shoulders and cascaded down her back but didn’t comment; it seemed fit to let her win a small rebellion. At sixteen years she stood tall, her back a perfect line; proud and determined she was a fiery Tudor rose. Breathtaking didn’t come close to giving her justice. “Good morrow, My Lady, we haven’t the time to speak as I would have wished but I am here as promised.” He sighed, uncaring was not the tone he meant to use on this of all mornings but he couldn’t bear her kindness, he did not deserve it. “Are you ready madam?”

A small smile curled the edges of her lips. This poor man, even he suffered for other men’s mistakes. She suppressed a proud chuckle when he started at her smile; they thought her broken! How far off the mark they were. After what she had been through she refused to give her soul to them. “Yes…yes we’re ready. Come along ladies.” On cue her two handmaidens stood and flanked their beloved lady. Not sparing the room another glance, Jane gathered her skirts and stepped regally out into the dim corridor. Poised, she looked every bit a Tudor royal; the only visible comfort she took was the trailing of her soft fingers over the smooth stone wall.

Her mind raced as her heart beat in her ears, but she refused to give them the pleasure of seeing her stumble. Damn beauty! And damn the tainted blood that flowed below her skin! Both had caused her grief and made it easier for those who controlled her life to manipulate not only her, but  countless others into their well-laid trap. Jane couldn’t say that she was truly sorry that their overzealous venture had failed, but regret still clawed deep into her heart for it seemed fate spat in the face of the innocent. Now the few she truly loved had to pay the price for her family’s and Northumberland’s greed. Only a desperate fool would have thought the people would follow someone they considered merely Northumberland’s puppet, and a usurping woman at that. No one would see she too had been used only as a means to an end. Blame must be cast onto someone and why not her everyone thought, hadn’t she started it all?!

Jane took the countless stairs one by one, each step wrenched forth a hundred different memories, most of which centered on the one person who had never betrayed her: Guildford Dudley. Guildford was her everything: her dearest friend, the funniest person she knew, her confidant and lover, and her husband, a fact that Jane could only comprehend as miraculous. And yet, this made him her worst terror imaginable. Had their parents discovered their true feelings, she would have lost what little freedom she’d had in her life, as would have he. Jane shuddered. Poor Guildford, what atrocities her parents would have done to him merely to get to her. It sickened her stomach to think of it even now, when it was too late.

As they neared the midway point of the stairwell, Jane couldn’t help but think longingly of her wedding day. How long ago it seemed to be, how perfect it had been. Well, as perfect as possible for two young people who didn’t know each other from Adam and Eve.

The May Day was warm and bright and the sun shone thick upon the finely clad men and women. Flowers bowed heavily and lent their pungent rosy scent to the air. The Durham House sat friendly and inviting as she made her way to its open doors. Her stomach lurched nervously but she focused on not stepping on her gold and silver tissue wedding gown. Her parents would kill her on the spot if she tore the expensive material sent by the King to his favorite cousin.

Pausing before the entrance she stole a glance at the gem-encrusted brides on either side of her, her sister Catherine Grey and her husband-to-be’s sister Katherine Dudley. They looked as frightened as she felt; the knowledge comforted her faintly. Jane took a deep breath and held it as she stepped over the entrance and made her way to the celebration hall. The ear-wrenching noise dimmed into a dull murmur as the mass of people saw the brides enter the hall. She clenched her eyes shut as she and her companions turned and stepped onto the wedding aisle. The sharp gasp from the other girls tickled her curiosity and slowly she opened her eyes, only to regret her sudden bravery.

The man who stood between the other grooms was nothing short of a golden fey creature. Had she believed in fairies, Jane knew he would have been born of their wild stock. His fair hair spilled into dark inky-green eyes and a frown tugged unpleasantly at the corners of his mouth. His lithe build was regal, tempting. She gulped sickly; this handsome young man wouldn’t want to marry her, some short, red-headed little girl who always said the wrong thing and cared for nothing more than her books. Her eyes widened in fear. What if he didn’t want her? In truth she hadn’t wanted him until this moment and she still carried the fading bruises to prove it but now what was she to do? She tugged uncomfortably at the end of her sleeves to better cover the brownish-yellow markings that decorated her skin. God help her, please.

She felt her cheeks redden and knew that tears were not far off. But before they could arrive, Guildford Dudley raised his eyes to hers and smiled; a shocked smile but pleased nonetheless.

The cold scrape of metal against metal made her cringe and destroyed the peace that accompanied the memory. The man guarding the door nodded stiffly to her but refused to look her in the eye. “God be with ye My Lady,” he said gruffly, obviously uncomfortable. The lass was just a child after all and what awaited her on Tower Hill was nothing short of appalling.

“And you Sir,” she smiled, stepping out into the daylight.

“This way My Lady,” Dr. Feckenham motioned for her to follow him up the grassy slope. She had looked upon this hill every day since her imprisonment and had watched the men bring forth the wagons of lumber and hay. She knew what awaited her there.

“I am well aware of where I am headed Doctor, for if you remember I watched my husband make this trek not so long ago,” Jane stated, shaking her head slightly to bury the memory of Guildford standing where she was now. Had she known before how things would turn out she would have forgone their inane pretense. It had wasted so much of their time together. A jagged shard sliced through her heart. The charade had been her idea; perfect, she had thought, for their survival.

Of Royal Blood: Pt Two

Image From Google

Image From Google

Of Royal Blood: Pt Two

“Guildford don’t you see, it’s perfect! They will never suspect a thing, why would they?!” Her excitement was almost visible in the darkened room; she inched her hand forward and laced her fingers through his. He gave her an encouraging squeeze before shifting under her so that she lay curled in his arms, her head on his chest. She listened to the steady sound of his breathing, his heart thudding softly against her ear.

“While I do agree my dear that this scheme of yours does sound rather intriguing,” he skimmed his fingertips down her side, causing her to squirm in delight and swat his hand away playfully. “I must wonder at how I am to pull it off. Surely you do not expect me to loathe you so vehemently; I think I would be a poor actor indeed.”

“I do not expect you to truly abhor me silly, but I am sure you could pretend just nicely. Yell at me, ignore me, run to that horrid mother of yours and complain about how wretched I am; it cannot be that difficult. Mind you this is only to be done in the public’s eyes, for if I find it carries over I will be most displeased and you will find I can easily give you ample cause to dislike me. But as for the pretense just improvise, I’m sure you can get ideas from watching our parents in action.” Her words were meant in jest, but Jane felt her husband stiffen around her.

“Never,” he whispered so quietly she had to strain to hear him.

“Hmm?”

He lay quiet for a moment before answering, “My father…often strikes my mother.”

This was no surprise to Jane, almost every marriage she knew of involved violence, even her own parents fought tooth and nail at times. Mostly she was the outlet for their rage but she had seen her mother cover more than one black eye with her cosmetic paint. It stunned her that Guildford was so unnerved about it though, but she could not deny it made her happy. “I do not expect you to hit me Guildford.” She said seriously, snuggling closer to him.

“Good, because I won’t.”

“I know dear, but we mustn’t let them think that we like one another. I am sure our parents did not force us to marry out of the goodness of their black hearts. No…they are up to something I’m sure of it, and you know what will happen if they discover out true…feelings. Every time they want for something it will be our job to produce whatever it is for them, even if it puts our necks on the chopping block. They would use you against me and me against you.”

“Don’t they do that already love?” Guildford asked, twisting a lock of her hair round and round.

“Yes, but you know it would be different. I do not want them to hurt you Guildford and they would, in one fashion or another. You know as well as I, there is more than one way to wound someone.”

Jane looked up when her nurse Ms. Ellen shook her shoulder lightly. “My Lady Jane, did you hear me? We must be going now. It’s time.”

Everyone was staring at her like they feared she had finally snapped. “I am sorry Madame; I don’t know what came over me.” Tossing her head back proudly Jane began the long walk to the top of the hill, leaving the others to gawk after her. She ate up the distance in her long stride. There was no use trying to prolong the inevitable and she tired of its constant presence in the back of her mind. Enough of this slow agonizing death, she was ready to live.

“My Lady, please…slow down,” Dr. Feckenham huffed, she could hear the old man wheezing as he fought to catch up with her. “Do not give up hope Lady Jane, Queen Mary may yet send out a royal pardon.”

“Doctor you know as well as I that Queen Mary will not pardon me, the usurper.” Feckenham opened his mouth to contradict her when Jane stopped abruptly and whipped around to face him. “Do not think I am a hopeful fool, I know very well what will happen when we reach the top of Tower Hill. The Queen did not pardon my husband did she? There is no chance then of my receiving this saving grace from Mary, now is there?! Do not patronize me Sir, I deserve more than that.”

“Yes, My Lady.”

Mollified slightly, Jane returned to her galloping pace. Her breathing was suddenly erratic, her blood pumped in her ears. It was unusual for her to lose her temper like that. Tantrums had never been her prerogative, nor would they have gotten her anywhere. Punches, slaps, pinches and beatings; her parents did not tolerate insubordination. Thinking back on it, Jane realized she had only ever tried to refuse her parents twice in her entire life: once when they announced her impending marriage to Guildford Dudley, and once when they proclaimed her the new Queen of England. The Protestant queen they needed, England’s savior was what they called her after her cousin, the King’s death. For nine days she had been their bloody Protestant Queen and look where it had gotten her.

“We must have a protestant ruler Jane, even one as dim-witted as you should know that!” Northumberland sneered as he wrapped his thick fingers around her slender wrist and bent down to press his lips to her hand; a grotesque display.

Her mind was buzzing, Queen! How could she be Queen of all England, it wasn’t her right, she was not meant for this! “No.”

“Jane! You stupid girl, you will do as you are told!” The hand her mother brought down upon her cheek was heavily decorated. It was obvious that she had already picked through the royal jewels and had chosen her share.

“No mother, I cannot…Mary is to be Queen, not me…I…I cannot…”

The slap that followed from her father knocked her to the floor. She held a hand to her reddened face, tears clouded her vision.

“Father…oomph!” A hard kick to her stomach and she reeled in agony as waves of nausea curled her inward, unable to breathe.

“NO! YOU WILL OBEY!”

“But father, Mary…” another blow to her gullet and she began to sob openly.

“Mary is the Catholic daughter of that Spanish whore, we cannot have a Catholic on throne she would kill us all. She cannot be Queen!”

“But Elizabeth then…”

“Elizabeth! The witch’s daughter, you would put our country in the hands of a witch, a devil-worshiper!”

Northumberland yanked her up roughly with by a fistful of her hair. “No, it is you that must be Queen, and my son King. You will name him King! Your mother has graciously given up her place in line for you and you will do as you are ordered.  Do you understand?”

Jane shook her head. No, this was not what God intended. She was not born to be Queen.

Northumberland’s face turned a dangerous red and spittle flew from his lips, “You will make my son King!”

But she had not crowned Guildford. She tried to save him by keeping that title from him. They had forced the crown on her, almost killing her in the process but she didn’t want that for her husband. Once she was proclaimed Jane, Queen of England there was nothing her family or his could do about it.

Winded, Jane paused when she finally reached the top of the mound. There before her stood her death; tall and imposing she could see the block sitting against the railing of the wooden scaffold. The people who came to watch her die mulled around impatiently until they caught sight of her. A collective murmur ran rampant, the woman who stood before them looked too young to be dangerous, too beautiful to be put to death. The black silk gown she wore lifted gently in the breeze and there in the slit sleeves the crowd got a glimpse of the blood red silk that Ms. Ellen had sewn in hurriedly the past night. The people shuddered. The poor girl, she had the courage of a queen.

Jane waited for the others to catch up to her before taking a step toward the wooden structure. Please God I ask you for strength, for forgiveness, please be with me now! The crowd parted when she reached them, men whipped off their caps and women bowed their heads. Everyone but Jane prayed for a pardon from Queen Mary. It only took a few seconds for her to reach the scaffold. Slowly now, she lifted her foot and placed it gingerly on the first wooden stair. Her legs shook as she placed her weight on the stair but were mercifully hidden beneath her black skirts; nonetheless Jane was thankful there was only four stairs for her to climb.

One.

Two.

Guildford, three.

Please, four.

A black clad man stepped towards her when she reached the floor, “Do you forgive me  My Lady?”

Her throat closed suddenly. Finally after all these months this was it. Squaring her shoulders, Jane lifted her head and stared directly at the gentleman. “I do Sir.” With a wave of her hand, Ms. Ellen and her other handmaidens stepped forth and began removing Jane’s cloak and collar. When they had completed their work the two ladies squeezed their mistress’s hands in support before slowly backing away.

The block of wood before her was stained a permanent rust color but the hay around it was fresh and clean. “I am ready.”  The executioner stood behind her for a moment before wrapping a black cloth securely around her eyes. The sun died, the sky tumbled from the heavens and the ground vanished beneath her until all she could see was the black of the night as it swallowed her whole.

“Kneel and spread your arms My Lady,” the executioner said bluntly.

Jane sank to her knees in an almost faint-like motion, her arms limp at her side. Oh God, please… Slowly like she was dragging them through water, she lifted her arms and reached for the block of wood before her… but it was not there. Her stomach began to rise in her throat. Where was it, was this some kind of sick jest on her part, was she to suffer more?! “Where is it?” she demanded, “Where is it?!” Jane could hear the sound of people gasping and a woman sobbing in front of her before she felt the vibration of someone coming towards her. Whoever it was grabbed her hands and placed them on the rough wooden square, “There you are My Lady.”

“Thank you.” She wasn’t sure if the words spilled from her lips or not, but she no longer cared. Placing her neck to the block she breathed deeply, sucking in all life as she remembered it and all she hoped it would be once this was over. Guildford. He was waiting for her. With a small smile on her lips she let go and threw wide her arms…