It's her last day, you!
But she still is busy;
No matter how queasy,
She can never rest.
Thus she'll do her best!
Till her final breath,
Until comes her death;
The Angels will sing,
And take her away,
To where there is day,
And never the dark.
Oh the dogs do bark!
They will miss her too...
So many hansum men gathered togedah in my house! Oh, to be in der arms... Well, the gorjus jewehlery of the ladies! Byutiful! I wud have been enjoying but for all dat noise…
“Ah, what a ominuhs sound! Dat blud-curling barking… And why is dat damned rooster clucking at dis hour in the night?” I cry.
“It seems like a message to me... He's trying to convey something..." says the countess.
“Oh yu duh ameeus mi señora! He's nuthing but a fulish bird…”
I walk down the long, illuminated corridor in the middle of fleeting thoughts.
Tea there and ? He will..
The windows fruit.! water g
A sharp pang from the collision brings me back to the corridor. I reach out to catch the dangerously leaning, ornate Cupid in reflex. Just another moment of delay would have let it hit the ground and crush my soul with it; ever since the house changed owners, this was the only remaining antique that I cherished. Why wouldn't I, for it was here, right behind these grandiose, velvet curtains that--
“Suhsan! The gue-sts ar waitin’. Won't you bring in them dileeshus keks yu maid?” the sugar-coated, high-pitched voice of my mistress pierces the air.
I sigh underneath the massive chandelier that sways to the joyful music emanating from the grand piano, now occupied by His slender, masculine figure.
As I approach the dining hall with the silver plate full of succulent pastries, my heartbeat matches the pace of His rhythm: rapid yet firm. I trod slowly, letting my face absorb the light from the burning lamps so that the guests wouldn't see the darkness boiling within.
I won't show weakness I won't sigh nor stagger nor stammer I shan't look at His face I shan't
The music hits me with full force as I open the doors to the magnificent hall. Men and women clad in extravagance turn to look at me while He sits there at the piano in oblivion, or rather, in disinterest to my entrance.
He hates me He hates me and I hate Him more
I humbly place the platter before the guests and give a slight bow before leaving the room. Through the corner of my eyes, I catch the ever-smiling face of my elderly mistress, and the faithful back of His self.
The door creaks open; she has entered the dining hall. I continue to look at the keys: they alternate in a gracious pattern of black and white. My fingers glide over them. The tone is getting harsher; I must calm down. I won't look at Her. I bite my lip and stop for a fleeting second, then resume playing on a more jovial note.
Black and white. Black and white. I concentrate on the black and white. I am playing the keys: white keys scarred by black ones. How symbolic of my own life! Blotted with dark spots that have sealed my happiness forever. I hate those black keys. I wish I could have them destroyed, but alas, music is incomplete without them. There is no piano with only white keys…
My eyes are burning, and I can't see my fingers; the black-and-whiteness is blurring. I can only see grey: despair, agony, pain. Tears are streaming rapidly down my face now, and I can't see no more. I close my eyes and play with my heart. I can't turn back, I remind myself. I shan't.
Oh what aguny… I have tuh luk faur a new maid soon…
When I caught da prince and dat duhrty maid togedah, I knew I had hit bull's ai! Dey stood behind dose byutiful velvhet curtens I always cherished, talking in hushed tones. He was down on one knee with a rose in hand! Ah… Such fohrbidden luhv!
And so I went to da queen. Not because ai hated suhsan, aldou I do, but because I saw my oppohrtunity to gain the queen’s favur. In fact, I already had a specific desire: this byutiful haus! Only tahrnished by suhsan’s presence, but a splendid haus nundaless.
But da main reason I went to queen because I was jeluhs. Jeluhs of suhsan’s luck. Why would she get to have him when I wanted him for myself? His blu ais consumed my soul and his charms gave me da thrills! I wanted him so bad.
And so I went to da queen and conspired against suhsan and her master by saying that dey had hidden this secret luhv from us. And I said-- ‘how ahtrocius for a prince to luhv but a maid!”
And da queen thanked me for throwing light on dis matter.
“You are just like a second mother to him, to want him to have a better future instead of making such a mistake.”
“Yes,” I had concuhrd with a mocking grin; my real desire was for him to have a better futuhre wid me. Who would want to be a mother to such prize!
As I walk back, I brush past the velvet curtains again. They are still the same shade of red as the day He vented his heart out to me. The Cupid was our witness, and the gorgeous curtains were the glorification of our love. I believed they shielded us from the world. I hoped we could hide away forever behind their massive drapes; but they betrayed us. They gave away our secret and warped over the truth, clouding it beyond recognition…
I should have stopped myself from reacting to mother's insults, for she was as deaf as the walls of the palace that neither shuddered nor flinched at my horror-stricken shriek when I learnt of what would be done to her.
“He has lohst his mind, my Queen! Think of what the nohbels weel do if dey hear of such low act by the prince! Dey weel forsake you, your highness! Dey weel no longer respect you!”
“You are right, Makalia. This has to be brought to an end. I banished the owner of the house, and I shall banish her from this kingdom too.”
“Ah but what if da prince dusnt give her up? He might leave the pahlace fohr her! Don't you hear his luhnatic views? That girl has bewitched him! She must be hanged!”
“SHUT UP! Just Sssshut up… How dare you interfere in family matters, you vile, old lady? Mother! She is just trying to poison your mind against her!”
“I see nothing wrong with Makalia’s reasoning. In fact, I can almost agree with her. That girl must be put down… As the Queen of Araña, I order that she be hanged next week.”
And then I screamed.
It was a fierce scream that shook the world: my world. I didn't mind the unjust penalty as much I did his pain. He had come into my room through the window at night, and I had nearly shrieked upon looking at his ghostly pale face.
“It's me,” he whispered with some struggle.
He looked up upon hearing his name, and smiled in a mindless manner. He chuckled, and then laughed until he fell to the ground, sobbing hysterically.
“I will never hear that again, Susan. I will only remain James the second hereafter! I will lose the last person I ever loved...I will lose everything…”
I was shocked. They had found out about our secret rendezvous. I would be put to death. I thanked the Lord: atleast they hadn't found out the whole truth. The king’s wishes will remain protected…
I took him in my arms as he wept like a baby.
“Shush… shush… You will wake up the evil.”
“The evil’s already awake. I woke him up.”
“It's not your fault, Jack. Please stop crying. You have to be strong for me, big brother.”
My heart pains for them. Alas! Such misfortune has befallen us. She will have to die. She will leave this world and she will take his heart with her… Won't it hurt him? Oh, won't it crush his soul? My poor son! My poor, poor son!
My poo…. My son… MY son? ‘A poor son’ indeed, but not mine. Ha ha ha! Not MY son!
So she can die… She can die and kill him too, for all I care… I am sick of him… I hate him whom I have to call my “son”
My fake family is falling down,
My kingdom's also falling down,
My fair lady.
How he ridicules the situation, my son… Ah.. If only he hadn't died so young, Jack wouldn't have to take his place in secret. I knew I had sinned by separating him from his family, from his sister he loved so much; but I had to preserve my kingdom. Jack resembled my son in physique and appearance; the subjects wouldn't have to know about the death, my enemies wouldn't strangle me or each other in attempts to make their sons the heir, and pandemonium would be prevented. The queen never accepted him, though. Now she takes revenge by eliminating the person he cares about most! She was always a cunning one, and I doted her for it, but hatred has housed in her heart deeper than ever. To abuse such innocent juveniles! She is no longer the lady I loved...
Time to wake up, you!
Our feeder will leave,
Animals will grieve!
And the birds will too...
The sun is rising. I breathe in slowly, enjoying the action most essential but generally overlooked, for the last time. The guards come in to take me. The rope is ready and hungry for a taste of my neck.
They have all assembled at the palace already. They came yesterday to see for themselves who “that girl” was, to mock her with their stares and whispers; He was forced to come too, by the queen. She must be enjoying our suffering.
“Forget me, Jack. Forget me and move on. Leave behind completely this life you were never meant to be a part of. You are a prince now, and you will be the King one day. Maybe it is for your own good to not have any more distractions henceforth.”
“Ha! Forget you? That's impossible. I would rather die with you.”
“I… I hate you, Jack.”
“I hate you. You are the cause of my misery. Weren't you happy enough to be a favored one? Unlike you, I have always rotted away in filth. Ha! What a pitiful life! I guess it will be best to end it anyways. I have never wanted much; however, just this once, Jack, let me have ONE privilege: let me die alone. I don't want you to follow me as my misfortune to the netherworld too… Please, don't come to torture me anymore.”
Please, Jack. Just hate me. It burns to have to hurt you; but I can't let you die for me.
I destroyed His rose I had till-long preserved so carefully in front his eyes. I held back my tears. This was His present to me on my birthday. Roses didn't grow in Araña; He had travelled all the way to a faraway kingdom to gather just one, blooming rose for me, and I tore it off before His very eyes.
“Go away, and don't come back to see me over the next week.”
He stood there appalled as I turned away. Slowly, He moved towards the window. I covered my mouth to prevent the raging sorrow from bursting into sound. I had stabbed His heart, and yet He was leaving without a word. I prayed that He would resent me, atleast a bit, so that He wouldn't be as broken at my death.
Before He jumped off the window, He turned to look at me one last time:
“You don't believe that changes anything, do you?”
I gripped my face hard, stunned.
“Because if you do, you are misguided. I know you too well, Susan.”
He hopped on to the ledge.
“But for your sake, I will try to live on,” He choked. Then, He was gone.
The guards lead me up the stairs to the platform. I stare at the sky, splashed with wondrous colors and hues. It's an irony, I think, to appreciate this work of art by God only moments before I will never be able to do so again, when for years I have never noticed it. I will become one with it now...
“Confess your crime,” the queen says in a cold, stern voice as she approaches me.
I ignore her and continue to gaze at the sky. I am only subordinate to the Lord now.
The queen’s face contorts, but she maintains her calm.
“You are truly unworthy of such bloodless death. You ought to have been beheaded for this disrespect.”
I look at the queen.
“Do you know why those velvet curtains are red, your highness?”
The queen is perturbed by such an unrelated question.
“Because they are embellished with my blood; they have soaked all of it. Your sword couldn't have drawn any blood of mine,” I simper.
The queen, taken aback, motions to the executioner with an angry gesture.
The rope is slid over my neck. I spot Him then. My resolution of aversion towards Him is overcome with a rush of emotions. I had failed to hate him; I realize I will die with regrets after all. It was worthless trying to create an antipathy that could reduce the burden of pain of never seeing a loved one again.
"No force in the world can break our bond of love," I whisper in my heart.
I feel lighter having admitted this to myself.
He is determinedly staring at the ground. His face looks pale, but He stands upright. I smile; pride and courage course through my veins. They will never know of the king’s secret, those butchers. As long as the queen is bound to her position by the assurance of a male heir, the secret will be safeguarded, and my brother will remain protected…
The hangman steps forward. “It's time to say your last prayers,” he says.
Just before the colors fade into darkness, I mutter-- “Give Him strength, my Lord. Keep Him safe.”