19 May 1536 by Bridgett TrejoAs Queen Anne walked with great dignity upon the scaffold, he could not stop staring at her beautiful face or the ghostly look deep within her dark eyes. She was so slender and strong looking, and carried herself as if she could face the world alone and without the help of any man. The once musty and suffocating air now seemed to have become filtered with the aroma of some kind of sweet flower that lingered in the air upon her arrival. The familiar smell of royalty, his nostrils did a dance. The rest of him stood in awe at her beauty. How could he be an executioner this day? How can he possibly be responsible for cutting off the head of this able-bodied, statuesque young woman? This Queen? He could feel his pulse quicken as she glanced into his eyes. She walked gracefully toward him, never missing a step. She seemed to move as if a ghost across water. He already sensed deep regret inside of him. The only solace that he felt was knowing that she could not see his face. But at the end of the day, it would not be her that he answered to, but to God himself. Oh how he had dreaded this day. He had never taken the life of a Queen before. He swallowed hard trying to get rid of the lump in his throat. It was hard for him to believe that she could be guilty of any of the things she has been accused of. He quickly tried to clear his head knowing that this should not be entering his mind at such a time. The life of an executioner was not something he'd been proud of. He had to prepare himself and unattach any human emotion that would cause him to fumble up this job that he had been so handsomely paid. He was yet to be startled by the voice that came from this graceful woman. She reached out her petite hand to place a bag full of coins in his own hands. “Sir please, I beseech you to be quick and steadfast. I wish for you to accept this as payment for your kindness, and to pray for my soul.” Her voice was full of as much confidence as the rest of her. The only signs of despair were the shadows of her eyes. As she placed the bag in his hands, his hands began to tremble, along with his crumbled words that finally managed to escape his lips. “I assure you Milady that you shall not feel a thing. I also beseech your forgiveness. It is quite certain the hardest task that has ever befallen to me.” He straightened his stance to prove himself quite capable of his duty and spoke with the utmost confidence to help relieve her hidden angst. She paused for a moment as if time had stopped, looking deep within his masked face. He wondered for that instant what it was that she was thinking, for the look on her face gave no clues. It caused him to reach up, making sure his mask was really there! He could see that she clearly had power over men because at that moment he wanted to falter at her feet. He had never met a woman who made him so nervous before. She bowed her head with a nod, only to reveal the beginnings of a warm smile on her lips. “There is nothing to be forgiven. You Sir are just doing your duty to this realm and my King.” She gently placed her hand on his arm to show that she had no judgments against him. Her touch was so airy that he could barely feel her kind and noble gesture. How extraordinary it is, that this young woman could forgive so quickly and still find a smile. He already knew that he admired her greatly, unlike the crowd that seemed to be chanting for her to die. He knew deep in his heart of hearts that this task was to be perfected and performed concisely. He would act in such a manner to preserve the dignity that this Queen seemed to carry with her every step of the way. He would do exactly the things that he had played over and over in his mind the last nine days. She would feel nothing. His sword had long since become a part of him, one that he knew perfectly. But such a skill was not always something to be proud of. He wondered how she could keep her composure at such a time and how she could ignore the brutal words being thrust upon her ears. It seemed to come so natural to her. Perhaps something he would never understand. For if it were him in her place, he wouldn't speak so kindly to any of them that watch. He knew that his temper would get the better of him and his mouth would curse words that would not dignify himself. He said a prayer in his mind just then, thanking God that it was not him, and to give him strength to do what what he must. He also pleaded with God to forgive his many trespasses, especially the one that would take place within this dreadful hour. Queen Anne requested permission to speak to the people, all of which must add up to be nearly a thousand. Once she had been granted permission, she scanned the crowd to see who was looking on at her. It took a minute or two but they finally calmed their voices to listen to her final words. This would surely be something none of them would ever forget. As her dry lips parted to speak, a tear managed to make it's own path down her flushed cheek. But it would be the only one, for she had great pride and steadiness. Many qualities that must have served her well, that is until very recent. Once she gained her composure, her words rang out from one end of the yard to the next. “Good Christian people, I have come here to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I have come here to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.” She was so careful with every word, and gave no evidence of anger against the King. All of which must have been to protect her family, or at least the ones that remain. Anne turned and handed her headdress to one of her ladies. The words she spoke clearly brought distress to her ladies' faces, as they gently wiped their tears and tried to hold back their great sorrow. If one of them had not shown any sympathy for Anne in the past, they were most certainly won over by her speech this day. After handing her headdress to her lady, she turned and stepped forward making eye contact with her executioner one last time. The uneasiness in the pit of his stomach made him want to vomit. He must of swallowed ten times in the last minute, as if his heart were caught in his throat. His pulse was so accelerated that he could hear its thundering thumps in his ears. He wondered if anyone else could hear it. She knelt in front of him as if she were kneeling at the alter to say her prayers at mass. Her words almost hypnotic, she began repeating over and over again in rhythm: “To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul.” Each time she spoke, she became very watchful, glancing behind her as if silently pleading with him not to strike until she was more prepared. This was something he had grown used to during other executions, so he had been prepared for such a thing. He brought with him an assistant who waited patiently for his gesture to distract Anne. He took a deep breath, careful not to let anyone else hear it. He drew within himself as much oxygen as he could get into his lungs. He knew that he would need it to help him do what he was about to do. He slowly raised his thumb to his assistant in the front row. His assistant distracted the Queen by calling out her name. Anne looked toward the assistant unsure of who was calling her name. While her lips were still praying, he grabbed his sword from under the straw behind him. Aligning his sword in a straight line, he quickly and concisely made one single pass with it. Everything became so quiet for that moment in time, that the earth seemed to stand still. And when it began to move again, it was somehow changed forever. The Queen was dead, and though many faces in the crowd looked pleased, he knew that he would forever feel deep shame for what he had done. He dropped his head in remorse and closed his eyes for a minute to collect himself. If only he had been born in another time, he may have had a different life. Perhaps most importantly, it may have been a life that did not involve taking others.
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