'The White Room' by Jo Derrick
Tired starlings droop from the roof of the station. I lie on an old, crusty chaise longue I bought in the junk yard down the road at Bermondsey. Not long now before they come for me. The usual night...
The King has shut me in here with only a leather-bound book for company. I am reading about the new religion and my heart is gladdened. I know there will come a time when the block and axe beckon, but for now I’m content with the dancing words before me.
I picture the King himself hanging you from a tree like a puppet. Sequinned slippers hang from the branches alongside you and sway in the breeze. When night-time falls, so will you and your landing will be soft. Your arsenic-tinged breath whispers its secrets on my creamy skin.
Dawn light smiles on you leaving. My contentment is such that I forget the guards outside the door and the sound of the undertaker’s bell.
Silver horses run down moonbeams in my dark eyes. I flutter my lashes and they gallop to rescue our children from their prison in the Tower.
My Lady Mary smiled on me and make the sign of the cross. The next day she sent me a gown of scarlet velvet encrusted with seed pearls.
I cast aside my leather corset when I know you are approaching. I hear your sneezes and gentle footsteps across the courtyard. My guards can’t see you. You are as invisible to them as the rooks circling the Tower.
The King is not long for this world and it makes me sad, for he was my childhood sweetheart. My parents swore we would marry, but now the King is wracked with vile coughs, covered in leeches and they say his toes and fingers have turned black.
And I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines, where the shadows run from themselves. Wait till they come to take me to my Fate. I will kneel before the block with a white silk blindfold, my Tudor gold-red hair tumbling down my back.
But before then I will have you here in my White Room and we will watch those tired starlings awaken and take wing from the roof.
The Mercedes Sprinter van pulls up outside. I get up, put down my book and brush dust from my witchy skirt. I pull on the black thigh length leather boots, which stand sentry by the door. I glance in the mirror. Very Stevie Nicks. The usual night gig.... and I haven't been able to get those Cream lyrics out of my head all day.