Your Devoted Sister

MaryLei Barclay

They allowed me a few moments outside to let the sun touch my skin one last time. A dying human’s wish, but one I have come to regret for I didn’t realize the extremity of the stench was more than just my rags and unwashed skin. If I closed my eyes, though, the stone walls of the prison disappeared and I was in a field of daisies. Forgetting everything that happened to me and our family. Forgetting the English rich folk. Forgetting the coming day.

Of course, they kept me deep within the bowels of the king’s prison and I was barely aware that there were other prisoners in just as poorly a state as myself. I have reached a moment where I resign myself to my sentence. I shall never admit guilt to a crime I had no part of. A man’s birth should not dictate his own justice. I wasn’t his property or in his employ. I had every right to walk that country road to make my way home. It was a public road and the image of his blood soaking into the dirt fill my nights. I suppose they reason if I were to get in the carriage none of it would have happened. Of course, they believe I am a murderer and would have killed him even if I got in the carriage. I wonder what they would have judged had I let him rape me first.

Her eyes still haunt me. It would have been no different had he killed her. Mama was dead inside the day she was found wandering that country road. Her skirts torn, her face red from tears and his hand of violence. It would have been better if he killed her after taking her off the road and into his carriage. Instead she had to do the job herself. I still see her eyes staring at the wall of the barn as she dangled from her own rope. They said her ramblings were nothing to listen to, but she named the duke that pulled her into his carriage and others he had pulled in. The world is better off without him and if it is my turn to dangle because of it, so be it.

Mama’s rambling told me where it happened. I found the locket Daddy gave her before he left for war in France in the same location that the man lay in a pool of his own blood. Maybe if I would have made sure he was dead he wouldn’t have named me. I don’t think the servants with him could have named me. If only Papa would have survived the war, Mama may never have been on the road. I would not be an orphan about to meet the hangman. I never walked that road since Mama died, but I had to that night. It had been three months since Mama died and another woman took her life after coming home with a torn dress and rambling. He shouldn’t have gotten another. He needed to be stopped. I was only walking home from visiting Mama, or at least where I believe she was buried. Daisies were her favorite flowers. I wish I could have gotten her a proper burial, but I had no money and the church refused to make an exception of burial rights for one who takes their own life. I don’t know what they will do with my corpse after I hang. I will probably be buried like Mama in a cemetery with no marker. They see us both as criminals even though we only had to do what was necessary. Mama had to stop her suffering and I had to stop the man from hurting anybody else. That’s rich man’s justice for you. They trampled us under their feet then demand their rights when we try to brush off the boot prints. I hate to think that he’s still alive and riding that road. I try to comfort myself with the thought that my stabbing him makes him think twice about picking someone up. Sometimes it is the only way to get his and Mama’s eyes out of my mind. Promise me you will never walk that road no matter what your intention is. Even having the best intentions gets you nowhere when you’re poor. I wish I had the money to send you away so I know you have a better chance, but all I can do is hope that you get that opportunity somehow. Mama was a dreamer and it was Papa who always pulled her out of the clouds, especially when we were told he was killed in battle. The best thing you can do is forget us. Create yourself a new family and hold onto them. Imagine new memories for yourself and make them so grand that even you believe them. Be the dreamer that Mama was and give yourself a new life. Don’t hesitate to brush off those boot prints and make a few of your own.

Your devoted sister,



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Your Devoted Sister Copyright © 2018 by MaryLei Barclay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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