A Rose Without a Thorn

Prologue:

I am not a smart girl. Nor was I ever meant to be. None of us Howard girls are trained to be intellectuals and I am a perfect example. My Latin is atrocious, my French nonexistent – all products of my poor, neglected education. The curse of the eldest daughter of a large family, with a dead mother and a wandering father, was to be sent to live at Lambeth with the other Howard girls nobody wanted.

There I received training on how to be charming and graceful, how to be the airy wife a nobleman would require. Dancing and music is the only knowledge given to such women – women destined to be playthings and brood mares. And the music proved more trouble than it was worth in the end…

As far as I know there has been only one smart Howard girl. A dark fairy who had captured the heart of a king with words and yanked a royal rug out from under the feet of a good Queen. She possessed the words we Howard girls lack, and yet she paid dearly for her knowledge.

I have the beauty and the grace but not the words I need, not words enough to save myself. My darkened chamber grants me little comfort; the air is cold and foreboding. I hear already the song of the ax – oh how the blade does love a Howard neck! In fact, the block itself sits just inches from me now. I asked them to bring it up for me, so that I may place my head on it with grace and confidence. After all, I am only an actress with a cursed hour to leave my mark upon the stage. The only memory I shall leave behind is a smudge of blood, a shuttering gasp, and the final words: "I die a Queen, but I would rather die the wife of Culpepper."

Someone told me once that a person gets a wish in heaven. If I make it there – which I may well not, for all my past conduct is enough to condemn me to many circles of Hell – I will wish to go back to when it all started, to when the first drop of ink made its way onto the pages of my short life…

Author's Note:

I seem to remember promising to finish this story about two years ago. Now, I went back to finish it and found that it needs far more than just an ending. So I am rewriting it – in its entirety. Though some bits I still like will reappear, most of the story will be entirely new. I hope that anyone still waiting for the ending will be pleased, along with any new readers who stumble upon my humble attempts at authorship.

Please review – it will speed up the writing process, I promise!