Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Tell me what you see

“What do you see?” 
“See? The cell is dark. I can barely see anything.” 

“You’re not looking hard enough. Go on, move closer in, and look towards the window.” 

“Oh — there’s a cold draught somewhere…”

“Try not to think about it. Are you looking towards the window?” 

“The light is rather…all I can see is a haze— a shower of light. It hurts to look.” 

“Listen carefully— try to look into the haze and tell me what you see.” 

“I feel cold—”

“Don’t think about it. Just focus on looking.” 

“Oh dear Lord!” 

“Why have you stepped back? Did you see something?” 

“I thought I saw…” 

“Tell me.” 

“I thought I saw a girl, sitting in a window-seat. But I can’t see her now.” 

“Come back beside me and see if you can see her again.” 

“I’m frightened—”

“Don’t be. I’m here. Come now — hold my hand.” 

“All right. I’m ready.” 

“Is she still there?” 

“Yes. Oh yes. She’s weeping…I can hear her!” 

“Good! It’s happening now…Can you try to describe her?” 

“She’s tiny and so young…I think no more than fourteen. But wait…she’s dressed like a matron, with her hair all covered. O — there’s another thing…I think the clothes are Tudor. In fact, I’m sure they are. But she must be Protestant…”

“Why do you say that?” 

“Her clothes — her gown is unadorned by any jewels. Dark colours — all black, I think. So severe for such a young girl. She has a prayer book attached to her girdle. If I remember right, that’s how Protestants dressed. But why is she weeping?” 

“Perhaps if we found out who she is we would find the answer to that.” 

“How do we do that? You know, she looks so real I could touch her…”

“Are you frightened now? 

“No — not any more. Just so very sad for her. But you haven’t answered my question…”

“All in good time…”

“Oh — she weeps like a child weeps. So forsaken and alone. Can’t we do anything for her?” 

“No. Nothing. And —to be truthful— she’s no longer here. This is a moment in time scarred by such raw emotion that it remains with us forever.” 

“So - her spirit really is at peace.” 

“Of course. She was an innocent and God keeps her safe.” 

“You know who she is, don’t you?” 

“Yes. But I want you to see if you find the answer yourself.”

“But I don’t know how…”

“See what else you can see. Describe the room.” 

“It’s more like a cell than a room - grey stone walls. But a comfortable cell. I think I see more than one chamber. The window is thick lattice glass. She must have been some one important to be in a chamber with glass.”

“Yes - she was.” 

“But such a young girl to be so filled with grief. O- she's stopped crying. I think I can hear her speaking…” 

“Can you tell me her words?” 

“No. She went too fast for me. Wait - she’s speaking again…‘Live still to die…by death you…purchase eternal life.... There is a time to be born…a time to die…the day of death is better than the day of our birth’.” 

“So, do you know who she is now?

About the author:

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor history since she was ten years old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction; and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter – named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne. She gained her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2014. Wendy also tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (Writing) program. 

Visit Wendy's website here.


  1. Lady Jane - RIP. Lovely piece Wendy, thank you.

  2. Definitely Lady Jane Queen for 9 days. How haunting

  3. I was not sure at first, so looked it up... and yes, I would say Lady Jane... A very moving, almost eavesdropping, short and haunting story. It made me to a shiver when I finished reading.

  4. Haunting & makes the hairs stand up on the back of the neck.The painting of the brave girl's last moments by Paul DelaRoche (however inaccurate) is very poignant.
    When the executioner told Jane where to stand she replied, 'I pray you despatch me quickly.' She began to kneel, then hesitated and said, 'Will you take it off before I lay me down?' The executioner answered, 'No madame.' Jane then tied the handkerchief around her eyes. Unable to locate the block, she became anxious, 'Where is it? What shall I do? Where is it?' she asked, her voice faltering. Those who stood upon the scaffold seemed unsure of what to do. 'One of the standers by' climbed the scaffold and helped her to the block. Her last words were, 'Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'