I wander through the garden a few hours before sunrise, ignoring the armed guards that stood behind me, watching my every move. A cold wind danced itself through the garden, so cold it froze the earth mid turn. I just wish that the world could stop, that time would never run again and I wouldn’t have to die when the sun rose.
I was innocent, but they wouldn’t listen to me. I was sister to the traitor, I must have known something. It infuriated me that I was to die while my darling full French sister-in-law could go on living her life with my child and all because I was half French and half English. How in the world did I know that my brother hated the French with all his guts and worshipped the English? I haven’t spoken with Marc since I married Claude. Of course, the government did not believe me and deemed me a traitor to the country.
The court room was silent when my sentence was declared. I would hang on February 20, 4 days from now. Kathleen, my darling daughter, the only treasure I had left of my life before Claude’s death 6 months ago. My child was only 6 and she would never know her mother. Marianna would be her “mother,” the two would comfort each other when their loved one was sent to the block. (Not that Marc and Maria loved each other…)
I was led out by 4 armed guards and taken to the prison. No surprise, Marc was already there, in the corner, as silent as stone. I reached out to touch him, but he turned away, “I’m sorry,” he whispered, the first words he spoke to me since his sentence 4 months ago.
“No mon frère, it is not your fault,” I said softly.
“Non, I took you away from Kathleen and gave her to Maria,” his voice shook with disgust when he spoke his wife’s name. “She testified. My wife testified against me, saying that I spent all my time with you, that is why they arrested you.”
I paled, “Maria…” Marc nodded and hung his head. “Mon frère, we will go through this together, as la famille should.” A tear drop crashed to the floor as Marc sobbed, 4 months of pain and regret spilling out, a waterfall. I did nothing but hug him, what else could I do? I hugged my older brother, my hero, and whispered calming nonsense into his ear.
Later that night, the guards arrived with a visitor. Maria and Kathleen. My daughter saw me and reached out, but Maria blocked her. “Your mother is evil, look at her, all filthy in that cell holding her brother like he was her husband. Shameful, don’t turn into her my love.” Kathleen shrank back, unsure of herself now. Who was this woman to talk, to confuse and trick my daughter?! I was outraged, but I could do nothing, except watch my only child, the joy of my life walk away, clutching the hands of the one I despised the most.
February 20th, the day of my execution. I huddled in the cell with my brother, awaiting our fate. We would be executed with the rising sun. My brother at dawn, and I, 2 hours after. My brother was taken out, for a final walk about Luxembourg’s beautiful garden; covered with snow at this time of the year, but a tradition that they allowed a final view to the prisoners of the city. He came back shaken, terrified that he would die soon. I tried to calm him, but he became hysterical. The guards took him to a separate cell, I was not able to spend the last few hours of life with him.
I watched the execution from my window. A window that saw all, the crowds, the high balcony where the king sat, and the platform. I saw my brother kneel before the stone; his face composed now, his ears deaf to the insults the crowd shouted. I saw the tear run down his cheek as he placed his neck on the stone and the final words that he prayed before the blade came down.
I stared at the snowdrop, the only flower growing. A symbol of hope that spring should soon follow the cold bleak winter. There was no hope for me now. I heard the guards shift behind me and knew my time was near, I was going to die soon.
“My daughter do you confess your sins to the one Almighty?” the priest asked me, his voice full of disdain.
“I do,” I reply, my voice full of disdain for him, for Maria, for the king, and the crowd.
“May God Bless You,” the priest sneered. I wanted to spit at his face, but contained myself. I turned to face the crowd who now shouted insults at me. I gazed past faces of those I had once known and called friends and realized how quickly relationships change. The only one that remains forever is the one with God, the one with his all powering love.
A face caught my attention in the crowd. Maria. I gave her a small smile and watched her stiffen. Beside her stood a beautiful 6 year old. The jewel of nations. I smiled at her too and mouthed, “I love you.”
“Madame,” the executioner mumbled.
I turn, “Pardon monsieur for stalling.” I bent on my knees and crossed myself then leaned over and placed my head on the stone. I heard the blade scrape the ground as it lifted. I heard the whistling of metal through the air as the blade came down. And then, I heard the voice of angels, singing before the throne of God.
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