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The Executioner by Emanuela Lobianco

Someone demanded my service, my deadly, bloody, swift service. But that someone! That was unbelievable. Henry VIII, King of England, needed me and my French sword to take her wife’s head off. She, Anne Boleyn, or as we called her here in France, Nan Boullain, had been accused of adultery –and so treason, because when you’re a Queen and you commit adultery, that is treason against the King -, witchcraft – seriously? They could have called this ambition, if not love – and – bloody hell! – incest with her own brother, young and lively George. I accepted. I must admit, when I firstly read the letter which asked me to kill that woman, I was reluctant, because I thought that killing a Queen was a shame and something against the will of the Lord. But then I understood that I just couldn’t say ‘No’ to the King of England, so I said ‘Yes’ instead. And then my journey to the fair and rainy island began.

I was due to arrive there on 18th May, but a great storm came and so I was stuck in Calais. In the small and dark room of the inn, I deeply thought about what I was going to do. Just before leaving, I was said that the King was not really having his wife murdered, because he was going to declare their marriage annulled and so be free to marry again, and lawfully this time. Why! Marry again! This King is but a fool, I say! And who did he wished to marry? The plain Jane Seymour, people said. The real opposite of Anne. Glamorous, beautiful, witty, sharp-tongued Anne. What a fool, this King of theirs. He had two daughters, and he declared them both bastards. So, off with Anne, and let’s go with plain Jane! Well, if that suits you, Majesty..

When the storm passed, I was able to leave, arriving in London on 19th May, early in the morning. I would have killed the Lady –sorry, Madame, I really wished to call you Your Majesty – Anne just some minutes later. And so, here I was, waiting for her on the scaffold, with my eyes covered with a black mask, black as all my dresses. Oh! Here she comes, the beautiful Lady. She was coming, and she was indeed very calm. She wore a gorgeous crimson velvet gown, that became her very much. She walked as like no one else was there to witness her murder but her. I was said by some of the guards that she thought of having ‘a little neck’. Poor child! She indeed has a little neck. Better for her.

She was now on the scaffold near me, speaking of how His Majesty the King was a very just Prince, and asking people to pray for her and her pitiful soul. Then, she knelt with the help of her trembling and mournful ladies. “I beg you, give me your pardon, M’ Lady” I asked her. She smiled to me as if I was her savior instead of her killer. “Of course I forgive you, Swordsman.” She then whispered in a sudden hurry “You and your French sword are the gift that my lord offered to me. Shall you do that very swiftly? I beg of you!” I heard her voice trembling. Again, poor child. She does not deserve this shame. In that moment, I believed her to be fully innocent. But I had to kill her. I was indeed in a need of forgiveness. So, I would have gifted her too. She must not know that her death was coming so suddenly. Let her not tremble. “Boy! Fetch me my sword!” I said to no one, so that when she was looking where she thought the ghost boy to be, I fetched my sword and swiftly took her head off, while her mouth was still whispering “God, have mercy of me”. Au Revoir, Anne. Forgive Me. We shall soon meet again, because I can endure the pain of having killed you no more.

Emanuela Lobianco – Napoli, Italy

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