a reincarnation fantasy, opens with Anne's
execution. Her fury at her husband’s
betrayal has enough momentum to survive
centuries, but in Threads she learns that
she has been assigned a hard task: she
must review their history together through
a number of past lives, and find it within
herself to forgive him. This may prove
difficult and take some time. The husband
in question is Henry Tudor, the notorious
Henry VIII. The narrator is the stubborn,
volatile Anne Boleyn, who is not at all
inclined to forgive.
It is a very unusual love story.
Faulkner Competition finalist for best novel.
Year of our Lord, 1536
I could not see
the crowd any longer. Were it not for the sound of an occasional involuntary
cough, I might have thought myself alone and dreaming. In the midst of this
unnatural stillness, I could sense the thousands of unsympathetic eyes I knew
were fixed upon me. I could neither hide from them, nor could I stop myself
from visualizing the faces and the stares.
startlingly, a bird flapped its wings and took flight. I imagined all faces
were turned toward the sky and all eyes were now fixed upon the bird. For that
one moment, all in attendance would have forgotten me and would allow me to
quietly slip away before they even noticed I had left them. That fanciful
imagery and a final prayer were all the comfort I could give myself.
A voice with a
heavy French accent shouted: "Where is my sword?"
Then, in one
instant, a hand reached for mine, and a voice gently said "Come,"
and I followed. Disoriented yet aware, I looked down and saw the crowd, its
taste for blood satisfied by the day's entertainment. I thought,
"Wait," and saw Henry in my mind and in a flash I was with him for
one last moment. He was mounted for the hunt, surrounded by huntsmen and
hounds, awaiting the sound of gunshots that would announce my passing. They
rang out as I watched and he inwardly flinched, outwardly revealing no emotion
at all. He would now race to Jane, would make her his wife in only 10 days'
time, and would never speak my name aloud again.
I looked at him
and thought, "Why?" like a wail, a keening, and could see he was
disturbed, though determined not to be. Denying.
I knew he could
sense me. It was in his thoughts, and I could read them as if they were spoken
aloud. He was agitated and fearful. "Damn you, Henry," I thought. He
heard me in his mind, and thought he was mad.
Then I turned
away from him one final time and floated toward the light and toward memory.
Like a rustling, I felt him reach toward me then catch himself. Like a
whisper, I heard him say to me, "Damn you," but the words were not
spoken except in his thoughts, and they carried no conviction in the face of
I sensed there
were tears, but his face was stone and tears would not be shed. He would
restrain them and hold them within like a cancer, and they would change him
and the lives he touched from this day forward. He would never face what he
had done. He would do it again and again as if to trivialize the sin. By
feeling less next time he could prove it was not sin, for did he not feel
righteous? If it were not right, would he not feel shame?
I know this
because I know how Henry could twist logic to suit his ends. He could speak
for God Himself, he believed, based solely on what he knew to be truth within
his heart. He was my husband and I know him to his soul. He was often
And so, many more
lives would be lost by his decree. It would torment him till the end and he
would be guilty, defiant, dictatorial, irrational and dangerous, never
realizing that much of it was the denial of grief and conscience. It would be
a sad end for a man who, oddly, wanted very much to be a good one.
With concern that
was habit more than heartfelt, I absently thought, "He should cry,"
then left him.