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Anne

I sit very still and straight, every muscle tensed in anticipation of the end, but I feel nothing. Not the cold metal of the sword on my neck, nor the sharp pain as it enters my delicate flesh.  Am I dead? Is it over?  There is only a deep, heavy silence, as if the whole world holds its breath. I breathe out slowly. The feeling of air escaping my lungs reassures me.

The stillness explodes with sound.  I hear running and screaming nearby, chaos around me.  What is happening?  Did Henry come for me after all?  I stay in position, terrified the sword will fall while I am moving, missing my slim neck and finding another part of my body, prolonging my suffering.  More screaming, but this time closer, and I can discern cries of pain and terror.  This is not right, what do these people have to be terrified of?  It is me facing the sword, not them. 

Then I hear the voice of my killer, his French accent strong.  I feel his breath warm on my cheek.  "Run Anne. Run now!" he whispers roughly in my ear. Then he is gone.  Confused, I raise my hands to my face and wince as the blood rushes back into my hands from clenching my fists so tightly. I feel tiny crescents of pain on my palms where my fingernails have pierced the skin.  I scrabble at my face to loosen the blindfold and rip it off. 

The light hurts my eyes, a burst of blinding white. I raise my hand to shield them and strain to see clearly in the harsh sun.  Sunlight I had never expected to see again. My eyes adjust quickly, however what I see makes no sense to me. Maybe I am dead after all.  Perhaps this is hell... 

Courtiers and peasants, guards and lords run screaming.  From my position on the raised platform, I can see people falling at the rear of the crowd.  I see blood spray, crimson against the green of the grass and vivid blue of the sky. Colours in stark contrast.  Blood is being spilt this day, but not mine.  I need to get away from here.

I look behind me, there is no one left on the platform.  Where are my ladies? I am alone.  I see that many of the guards have run into the fray and the rest are fleeing. A glint of steel catches my eye as I see that great French sword swinging into the crowd below me. I glimpse the Frenchman's hood. He has new quarry now.

No one is watching me, it feels wrong.  The canons begin to ring out nearby, these were meant to proclaim my demise.  My ears are ringing and sounds become muffled.  People are still dropping from sight, felled by an unknown enemy.  Whoever they are, they are getting closer to me. Are they saviours or enemies? I find I have no desire to stay to find out.  I am a survivor above all. I stand and I run.

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