My dress is white; the last testimony of my innocence.
I smooth a fold with my cuffed hands and wish I’d picked the red. It would suit death so much better. I sigh and prepare for the twist of the noose on my neck and hope the color of my dress won’t matter in hell.
"The Duchess Myrabel has been sentenced with treason, murder, and witchcraft for which she will hang by her neck until death."
The priest's voice echoes in the quiet morning. The crowd is still. Quite the accomplishment for the size of it, but the hanging of a duchess is not like your everyday hanging. I've always had a flair for drama. I've never wanted a quiet death.
"Any last words before you are sent to the heathens of hell?"
He wants me to repent. To beg forgiveness in the light of his God of Men. I'll disappoint him. His face folds into a marvelous scowl. Each wrinkle carefully bends around his eyes and lips to leave no doubt of his superior anger. Within the narrow eyes lies the glitter of triumph. As a man faithful to his God, he never trusted me. Nor should he. At least I'll give him credit for that.
"I am innocent," I say to the open square. "I killed not a King but a tyrant. If that's treason, then to whom?"
The priest's face reddens. These are not the words he wished for. I guess he had hoped that at the brink of death, I'd change my mind. But I am loyal. As is he.
Of course, he will not let me have the last say. It's a terrible obsession of so many of his kind, but it will become his downfall and my gain.
"You bewitched our King! You ensnared him with your tricks, and clouded him with your demons!" Spots on his skin darken and his eyes are wide.
I spare the priest a smile. "Being a woman is not witchcraft. Beauty is no curse. Your King fell to his own damned desires and dark lusts."
"It is lies!" His yell holds drops of spit and his eyes bulge now. This man does not anger handsomely. Not like the sweet Tyrant King. Oh, he was so handsome!
"You cannot claim every woman who denies you a heretic," I continue. "You cannot, and will not, control us. We are free." There's a rustle through the crowd. A soft murmur on the arms of the wind as people take in my words. Spells are most powerful when said in death. Revolutions are best sparked on the edge of the defeat.
"I decide who is a heretic!" the priest hisses.
And curses cannot be undone when fueled by your own destruction.
"Then you shall burn with the rest of the patriarchy," I say with a lifted chin. "I'll see you in hell."
I hover for an instant as the trapdoor beneath me opens. Then the rope snatches on my neck.
I open my eyes to a dark room of riches and my hand immediately moves to my throat. It stings like hell and my moan has my sore muscles ache. My neck throbs. A spiking jab of pain from where bone broke. At least the divan I lay on is soft. I close my eyes again and move my head slowly from side to side. The throbs ease.
"Mistress..." the voice is a slivering whisper of devotion.
I sit up slowly, massage my throat, and accept the cup of dark wine the demon holds up. Finally some proper service!
It bows low and grins up at me with its pointy teeth and yellow eyes.
"Go fetch me Lucy," I say and grimace at my bruised muscle that ache with each word.
The demon turns and the ripped wings carry it from the room. I wait and sip the wine. Its delicacy soothes my throat and I am soon on my feet and drawn to the wide mirror at the end wall. My lip curls.
A red line marks the fair skin around my neck where the noose took my life.
"What a disaster," I mutter and my fingertips caress the scratched skin. I'll have to find a way to mend that.
I smile at the mirror and the black-haired woman who enters the room behind me. Her arms are spread wide, her smile stunning on her straight face and her body draped in a silky gown of red and gold. I should have chosen a different dress!
Lucy embraces me and places a soft kiss on my cheek.
"What a frail color!" She laughs and holds out a slip of my dress. "Were you expecting to go to the heavens?" We both laugh at that. "Oh, a hanging? How classy," Lucy continues and inspects the red mark on my skin. "I was sure they would go for a burning."
"They didn't dare!" I snort. "The priest is too afraid of fire."
"Well, he should be." Lucy's smile is wicked. "Is he the next?"
I nod and empty my glass of wine.
"I planted doubt in their minds too. Soon, our sisters will join us. Our victory will be drawn in blood and lined with hellfire, and the patriarchy will come crashing down from the pillars of God to the gutters of men. They will rue the day they crossed us."
"Soon ..." Lucy whispers and her eyes flare with sparks of desire.
This little story is inspired by the word prompt 'prepare' that was part of the VSS365 (very short story) a few weeks ago.
The first paragraph is my vss entry.
Read more of vss here: www.vss365today.com