Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Light in the Window -- a short story

As some of you are aware, I'm in school taking some online classes. One of them is a creative writing course. I just wrote this short piece for a grade, and thought maybe some of my readers who enjoy my historical fiction stuff with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn might enjoy this. I'm considering turning it into a fan fiction if there's any interest.

It's a little well known fact that Anne actually did seal her fate by making jokes about Henry behind his back and showing off his undergarments, mocking him. This took place right before she was seized and locked away. She gave him little choice. This was treasonous and punishable by death, not to mention enough to break his heart into a thousand pieces since he'd just put on some weight after his leg had been crushed in that jousting accident and his fully armored horse rolled over onto his leg, supposedly causing Anne Boleyn to miscarry their son...

Enjoy this little piece I created, hoping to get a decent grade. Hope you like it!

A Light in the Window

The light in the doorway called to him, but Henry refused to go in. It was his right to do so, but he sat stoic.
“Sire, she is speaking ill of you. I insist, you must see for yourself, since you have refused to believe me thus far,” Thomas Cromwell said, leaning toward him.
Henry swallowed down the bile at the back of his throat. His heart constricted violently. “She is having a party, and I shall allow it. She needs a moment of happiness to herself.” He went back to looking over the newest peace treaty proposal with France. His head pounded, and his fingers shook as he heard the merry music coming from his wife’s chambers.
“It is to your own detriment that you do not stop her. Her tongue has run away with her like a charger on the lists. She brings you shame.” Cromwell stood straight and looked down on the king.
“As my adviser, it is your job to stick to matters I assign you. My wife’s private moments with friends are not your affair.” Henry flipped his wrist and shooed him out.
He could not take much more of this constant assault on his wife’s character. Anne was a wonderful woman. The best he had ever known, even if she had taken to ignoring him as of late.
She never believed him when he denied the rumors of his taking on a mistress, and Jane Seymour, her new lady in waiting, was constantly watching him, making it seem as if they were indeed sinning together behind closed doors.
He leaned back in his chair and heard something fall in Anne’s chambers. It sounded heavy.
His wife screamed, “Ahhhhh!”
In a moment, he was out of his chair and running as fast as he could with his hobbled leg that had been crushed by his charger not long ago when he was at the tilts.
“Dammit! Faster!” he told himself.
He could never move fast enough. He could never be there for her. He could never please her.
He was never enough for her, and his heart twisted over it.
It was his fault she miscarried his son. His son he needed as heir for his kingdom.
Henry crashed through the door, only to find Anne laughing, holding up his large underwear for all in attendance to see.
Her brother, George, was on the floor and had evidently fallen down due to his drunken state and roaring laughter.
“What is the meaning of this?” Henry’s jaw tightened and his heart shrunk until he could feel it no longer.
“Nothing, Your Grace,” Anne said, stuffing his underclothing beneath her skirts, smirking.
“This is treason. You know this, Anne.” He placed his hand over where his heart had once been. His hands were icy, and his vision almost blurred. If anyone found out about this, she could be put to trial.
“This is truth!” She rose to standing, facing him. “You whore around this country trying to make illegitimate children with every woman that passes you by, while I wait for you to come to my bed!” She strode over and pointed in his face. “It is your fault I am not increasing!” Her other hand landed on her belly.
“I . . . Please.” He took forward. “Anne . . . Stop this at once.” His voice trailed off. She blamed him for all her woes. It was not his fault. She scorned his advances each morning and night at the dining table. He tried to kiss her, say some words of affection, but she looked the other way as if he was viler than any creature she had ever known. “You misunderstand. I love no one but you. I fought for seven years to have you—took on the church, and all for you!”
“You cannot blame me that the church was corrupt and needed reformation. I only helped you see what was broken.” Her eyes turned to slits and her lips pursed. A moment later, her nostrils flared at him as she huffed. She turned away from him and staggered back to her seat.
She was drunker than her brother.
He slumped in his spot and sighed. “I will help you to bed.”
“Too late! I do not require you to warm it.” She cocked her head at him.
“Take care, my lady . . . There are eyes all over the castle, and what you think is not seen is.” Henry marched over to her, picked her up by the upper arms and dragged her through her outer chambers to her bedchamber.
“Tonight there are no excuses! You lie with me and no other!” He shut the thick door with his foot.
“I do not stray—that is you!” She swung her hand at him, but missed and fell over in the process.
He caught her before she fell to the floor.
Instead of slapping her to wake her from this drunken stupor, he held her bound to his chest with his thick arms.
“Will you stop listening to idle tongues? I adore you and no other!”
She struggled to break free, so instead he pinned her against the wall and kissed her until she went breathless. If she would not listen, then she would feel his ardor. His hands dug into her hips, and she clawed at his clothing, trying to remove it.
“Why do you not love me anymore?” she asked when he broke away from the kiss.
“I do. So much, darling. I want you.” He pulled at the laces on her left sleeve to undo it.
“You do not listen to me anymore. I try to tell you about monasteries and how they are corrupt and hurting your people, but you turn away from me. You used to listen to me about architecture and music and—”
He covered her mouth with his hand, letting her sleeve slide off her shoulder. “Shhhhh. Listen to me and hear this—I cannot do everything you say. I cannot always act as if your word is law. I hear you, wife—I do. But if I am to maintain some semblance of respect from my advisers and council, I have to stand firm. They have to know I rule supreme, not my wife.”
She nodded, but barely.
He lifted her skirts with his other hand and tickled his fingers up her right inner thigh. “Tonight you conceive, and there will be no more of these disgraceful parties with the likes of Mark Smeaton or Thomas Wyatt or your brother. Do you hear me? They are in lust with you, all except your brother, and they encourage you to act like a lady less well born than a queen. You are mine. And you are to act with propriety like you used to.”
She bit his hand, but instead of him taking offense to it, he took hold of her and picked her up, placing her on the bed. He ripped both her sleeves off her dress and then stopped, towering over her, breathing hard.
“Get undressed. Now.”
Her eyes went heavy, and her chest rose as she took a ragged breath. “You mean to give me a son?”
“I do. I mean to remind you who you belong to in the process. Now, you will get naked and you will spread out for me so I can do what a king must.”
She lifted her skirts, scooted back on the bed and unpinned her hair. It flew down around her shoulders and trailed behind her on the flocked filled mattress covered by a vibrant purple counterpane.
Most likely their wet desire would ruin it, since it was made of the finest French silk, but he cared not.
He would buy her a thousand counterpanes to replace this one if she would only submit to him and mind her tongue in court.
She slowly peeled away the rest of her clothing and watched him as he removed his.
He had put on some weight over the last few months, but it was because his leg was still mending. When it was whole again, he could go back to hunting, wresting, tennis and jousting. He could be the charming young prince he once was . . . The man who won her over a decade ago.
Henry hefted himself up onto the bed and straddled his wife.
“It is lent still. We break God’s laws by you bedding me,” she said, grinning with a dark look in her eyes. She reached for him and spread her legs wide.
“I care not about those rules. God did not mean for a king to keep from procreating because of lent. Those are men’s laws!” He growled and lunged forward, taking what was his—penetrating through her body and hopefully her mind.
She would remember he was the reason her whole world existed.
“You are a wicked man,” she said, arching into him, grinning.
“Only when I am with you.”

Three weeks passed since he took her, and still no word of conception.
Henry paced in his privy chamber, his neck and chest heating to an unbearable degree.
Still, more rumors of how she made jokes at his expense when in her private chambers with that same foul company he had demanded she stay away from.
“She thinks I do not listen to her!” He clucked his tongue. “When she is the one ignoring my council!”
Cromwell sat silent, only watching him move to and fro like a piece of chaff caught in conflicting winds.
Henry’s leg ached, and he paused every few moments to massage it.
“Sire, is it infected again?” Cromwell stood.
“No, no. It is fine. Only slept on it wrong.” Henry dare not tell him he twisted it funny when making love to Anne three weeks ago and it had continuously flared up since then.
“I am glad to hear you are well.” Cromwell nodded and backed up as Henry approached him.
“What am I to do with her?” the King asked.
Cromwell’s lips parted as if to say something, but then he closed them abruptly when a hysterical Anne burst into the room crying.
“You liar!” She crossed the room to Cromwell and slapped his face. “You mean to besmirch my character? I am the Queen of England!”
Henry took her by the arm and sat her in his chair. His lungs burned as he held his breath to keep from bellowing in her face that if she was the Queen of England, then she better act like it!
“Anne, compose yourself.” Henry kept a hand on her shoulder to keep her seated.
“I do nothing but report the facts, madame.” Cromwell bowed.
“You twist the facts into whatever you like to gain power.” She looked up at Henry. “Please, you cannot believe a word he says about me. It is nothing but false accusations.”
Henry petted her long, dark hair. His eyes filled with tears. How many times had he stroked his hands through her shiny, satin locks like this? Why could she not be docile and allow him to adore her like he used to?
“Henry!” She gripped his hand, breaking him out of his trance.
“I have missed my wife, but reports reach me that she does not feel the same,” Henry whispered.
He leaned over and kissed her forehead, then sighed, his shoulders and soul sinking to the floor.
“You cannot mean . . .” Her face paled, and she shrank from his touch. “You cannot! What of Elizabeth, our daughter?”
“You have sealed your own fate.” Henry pointed at the evidence in the corner—testimonies of the crass jokes she made about him being a poor lover in bed. More proof of her infidelities with Smeaton and Wyatt. Other articles of his personal underclothing had all been found in her chambers after her parties took place.
“I can only turn a blind eye for so long.” Henry released her and shuffled away toward the table, fingering her necklace she used to wear that had the B on it with droplet pearls beneath it.
She had twisted it up on his sleeping shorts, signifying she owned him, not the other way around.
He could only tolerate so much. His heart could not take this onslaught of defiance and insult. He had a kingdom to run, and no matter how much he loved her he had to protect his people. If they did not support their king, there might be another hundred years war that his predecessors had made sure to end.
“It is that whore, Jane Seymour, is it not? You bed her, and now you mean to throw me out of my chambers to put her there in my stead.” She pushed off the table, knocking the chair out from under her as she stood. “I will not allow it! I am Queen, not her!” Anne tripped as she came flying at Henry and fell straight on her face.
When he rushed to her to help her up, she swatted his hands off her.
“Do not touch me ever again!” She moved to her knees, then stood on her own accord.
Her lower lip was busted open and blood oozed down her chin.
“My lady, you are bleeding!” Henry tore at his cuffs to break a piece off and staunch the flow, but she shoved him away from her, knocking him back into the table.
“I will make sure everyone knows what a wretched king and awful husband you are! There is no one who takes wanton lusty women into his bedroom at the alarming rate you do! Bastard!” She spit in his direction.
Cromwell lunged at her and dragged her out of the room.
Henry bent his head back and howled in agony, his heart thundering in his chest. “Annnnnne!”

Execution day emerged—the trial had been swift. There was no way to convince anyone she was worth saving. The incest charges were false of course, but Henry could do nothing to keep those from being brought to court.
Henry glared at Cromwell. “You were supposed to save her!”
“I could only do so much inside the laws. Justice had to be served. She was found treasonous.” Cromwell swallowed and stood far back.
Henry’s limbs were heavy, and he could barely move over these last few weeks while his wife was incarcerated in the Tower of London. His hands were cold and clammy, and sweat trickled down his back. It did not matter how many layers of clothing he took off—he was always sweating and then breaking out in chills. His gut pinched tighter than his nerves, too. He fell apart night and day whenever left alone.
Tears were his constant companion, rather than his wife.
He roamed over to the window and placed a hand on the pane.
“Make sure the swordsman does his job well.” Henry motioned his head toward the table and got choked up. “Extra gold if he takes her head off with one swing. I do not want her to feel any pain at all.”
Cromwell nodded. “Yes, Sire. He is well trained—the best France has to offer.”
“She has but a little neck,” Henry said, smiling through his tears. Her joke—not his. He always loved how she cooed when he kissed down her neck and put his hands in her hair.
“She does that, Your Grace.” Cromwell bowed and took the bag of money.
“You are certain she is not with child?” Henry bit his bottom lip. It quivered and gave away his most urgent desire to save her if at all possible.
“No, Your Grace. She could not possibly be. It has been more than a full cycle of the moon since you last lay with her.” Cromwell stood in place, face devoid of expression, legs steady.
“I should go to her. Say something to her . . .” Henry moved away from the window.
“You cannot. You have already said—”
“I know what I said!” Henry shouted, spit flying in Cromwell’s direction.
“Apologies, Sire.” Cromwell bowed and kept his eyes downcast.
“She is a witch. She bewitched me from the start.” Henry’s heart screamed at him this was false, that she was lovely and fair, but that jealousy had changed her. She had become too ambitious and hardened her heart against him.
“She is that, yes.” Cromwell shook the bag of coins for a second.
Henry’s gaze fell on the bag, and he scowled. “Is this to be what I am remembered for? Two failed marriages, no son and a life of misery with a bad leg?”
Cromwell only blinked in response.
“Tell me what will history say about Henry VIII? Will they say Hal is a legend because he purged the church of its corruption? Will they say he joined his lands together in peace and brought them harmony at his own expense?”
Cromwell rose a hand and shook his head as if it to say history would be nothing but generous in regard to this king.
“I tell you this—they will blame me for all of it.” Henry’s hand slapped the wall. “They will say I am a monster because my wife had to die!” He pointed at his chest and wheezed. “It will say I am soulless and had my way with many women, when I am pious and pray several times a day, pleading for God to save my people by giving me a son so my country does not fall into ruin when I am gone!”
“What does it matter what history says? You know the truth in your heart. Your soul will be spotless before God.” Cromwell’s brow wrinkled.
“Will it?” Henry snorted. “No. I daresay it will not. I failed to save her. She is lost to me, and the facts will be, too.”
Henry limped to his bedchamber. She would be dead within the hour, and that meant his heart would be, too. There would be no light in the doorway to call to him.

1 comment:

  1. Totally depressing - and feels like what happened. I'll be shocked if you don't get an A.


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