rose

The True Tudor Rose
By Dawn O'Brien


  They say that in the moments before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes. I always found this to be an absurdity; I did ponder on certain marvellous moments of my life, but not the whole thing.

  There are certain parts of my life that even now, having departed the world, I would like to forget. Mainly the grotesque man I was forced to monotonously share a bed with at the end of my days and the endless torrent of miscarriages that brought about the destruction of my soul.

  I am sure that you have heard of me, learnt about me in history lessons, and learnt the rhyme of which my demise is the second word.

  However you do not know me, not even God himself knows me, so as I sit here for the longest eternity in purgatory I shall tell you the parts of my life that did flash before my eyes.

  I awoke to a flurry of panic; this was the day the Queen was to be beheaded after all. And yes, I was the Queen no matter how much that bloody King and the true traitor, Cromwell, had engineered to bring about my ruin.  Royalty truly is an amplification of the human condition: every soul has whispered sins, but mine were screamed for the whole kingdom to hear.

                     “But madam, you must be dressed in suitable attire” stammered a nervous servant girl, who had a peculiar twitch in her right eye, as if she didn’t want to look at me.

  I took this moment to remind the little bitch, who had no social standing to speak off, that I was still Queen and to address me as such.

                    “Sorry, your highness” the girl said in barely more than a whisper, as she stared at the ground.

  This was the first time I thought of my daughter Elizabeth, I would never see her grow to the fine woman I knew she would be. A strong leader she will become, I was sure of that.

  That Mary won’t last long, the daughter of the dammed Catherine, no claim to the throne. The Bible forbids marrying your brother’s wife as Henry did. I am the rightful Queen; my daughter is the rightful heir.

  I then clambered into my red petticoat, practicality: blood would not stain red material, and donned a dark grey gown lined with fur. Quite a symbolic outfit I felt, the rouge representing my status as a Tudor, Mrs Henry Tudor, The Queen of England.

  Bet you saw that symbolism coming didn’t you? I felt it was deeper than that; the last 3 years of my life have been occupied with the colour red, the red stained sheets of my children that never came to be, endlessly disappearing into heaven as I plunged into a deeper hell.

  That was my second reflection; would I be reunited with my dead children? As it came about those innocent souls would never have to stand the anguish of an eternity in hell, for which now I am sure to be destined.

  I was in love with Henry until my children were taken away from me. I am sure the he conspired with God for me to bear no live children. The irony. I was too fiery for him, the reason he fell in love with me I am sure. But all the same, a wife must not be fiery. A wife must be submissive. A wife must lie on her back while his useless seed further desecrates her being. If passion is fire, then marriage is cold stone.

  I was nervously led by the young girl; I am supposed to call my maid. And another, who was familiar to me, I was sure she had served me before. This walk is a blur to me now. I didn’t let a tear fall; my father had always taught me that a tear was a symbol of a woman who had not tied her corset tight enough. Is bleeding a symbol of not tying my heart strings tight enough?

  I can’t help but think about the alternatives to the life I have lead. I had an exceptional upbringing. Miles ahead of the charlatans that occupy this world, the tomatoes throwers who would kill to be standing inside the walls of the great tower to see myself dismembered.

   I have decided that there is no alternative, I entered this world devoid of perception and have left with much, mainly about the wench of Aragon. I can picture the smile on her cold face as she lays in her grave on this day. I shall see her soon, I am sure of that; if I am destined to hell I can be sure to see her.

  High treason for my adulterous behaviour, I ask you. Some of it is true, but not to the extent that the fraud Cromwell would have you believe. I shall wait for the day when the King sees him for his true treachery.  And if the king doesn’t, history will conduct a fairer trial.

  I knew now that the point was nigh, the point where I would leave my body and the join my dearest children. God, he surely can see my plight, all knowing though; I am in certain need of repentance.

  I stood looking out at the plethora of faces, chanting and jeering at my death, I knew this would turn to jubilation once my head was detached. Am I forever to hold my head in my hands in the anguish of purgatory?

  The silver sword I had requested glinted in the sunlight, blinding it was. The pain of death pulsated through every vain.

"Good Christian people, I am come hither 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 ramble on some more about the king who is void of passion and emotion. Should I lie so irreverently at the door of death? Yes, for history shall perpetuate my memory and I am certain for it to be a great one.

“O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul."

  That was my last thought, I heard the swish, I tasted the blood, I heard the joy of the crowd and I finally tasted the eternity of torture I was about to endure.