Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers is thrilled to introduce to you historical fiction short story and non-fiction article writer Mercy Rivera.
Mercy Rivera is a founding member of Queenanneboleyn.com and is highly respected as the website’s Queen Anne Boleyn reenactor. A native of Puerto Rico, Mercy also writes Spanish language articles and stories for the website. A woman of many talents, Mercy is a video hobbyist. The videos included with Mercy’s short story Chronicles of a Restless Soul are of her creation.
Chronicles of a Restless Soul
I am trapped in time, trapped in silence, memories, in pain, sadness and agony. I am trapped within the walls of this Tower, below the sky, in the traces of the path of the story of my life. I see life coming and going every single day…. Sometimes I make myself felt, and sometimes I just act like a cold whisper that makes them remember that one day I was real.
I have been a silent witness of the changes of time… eras came and left, and everything is different– but life is the same. Everyone wishes the same things. I hear them when they speak. Some of them praise me and admire me… others… judge me like the ones who sent me to my death. But in this era I must say… I have more supporters than when I was a living Queen. Oh! And how much they admire my precious Elizabeth. That makes me feel so proud and assures me that my life and my fate were not in vain.
But my favorite time is when the night comes… when all the noises, the rush of the living and the interruptions of the… extreme modern era that is now, goes quiet. Is at night when I come out freely. Sometimes I get too bored and make fun of others…I scared the guards a little, but I never go too far… like some legends that I heard from visitors. When you are… like I am now, you are free to go wherever you want; and you can also see those who once shared a life and a death with you.
I do not spend too much time wandering in the Tower. This cold and dark place that I hate with all my being, but that is also part of me… This was my last home. I was blessed with power and glory here… and also judge, abandoned and unjustly condemned. I leave the tower every night, and I fly away towards my home…the place where I grew up, where I was happy, where once I heard poems and was captivated by my King… my darling and cruel Henry. Oh Hever… you have changed but not too much….the essence of my existence is still present in all the corners. My home, too many memories…. At least I am still here to remember. Sometimes I see my brother around…. But his soul is too damaged. He just looks at me and then he fades away. In more than four hundred years since… that happened, I have not been able to speak to my dear George. For some reason he refuses to be with me in death… he remembers his pain more than the fact that we were inseparable in life.
And over there…my beautiful gardens….they are taking good care of them, even when I see changes is still precious. I find my sister Mary here sometimes… She talks to me. She pardoned my pride and cruelty towards her back when I was Queen and arrogant. My poor sister… And my mother, the gracious and proud Countess of Wiltshire and Ormond, also haunts this place…is hard to see her, because every time we see each other, all is sadness, mixed with smiles. She just looks at me. Even in death we can touch each other. I can feel her maternal caresses. Then she says “I am so sorry” and like my brother… she fades away in an extreme level of sorrow. Alas, I never see my father here… but I can hear him… He cries out loud. He is in pain. I know that very well. He betrayed his own blood and that will never let him rest. My poor father….
Then I start to have memories of the days that marked the beginning of my end; and when that happens. I think… why my fate changed? I was in love with another man, a simple man that would never treat me with cruelty or betray my love, but then…I was forced to capture a King and I lost the way… I lost myself.
I remember that masked ball… when I met the King. He was Honesty and I Perseverance, symbolic indeed. At first… I did not care for him. I had a duty. I had to obey my father and my uncle’s wishes, but then….when I looked in to his eyes….he captured me. Maybe that is why all worked so well at the beginning. True love was finally the base of the game, and one day, I was his Queen. I bore him a daughter…. And I lost two children. The last sealed my fate.
Sometimes I spent days and nights wandering here in Hampton Court… Oh Hampton court, so many stories… Henry haunts here…. He really liked this place. I only found him here once. I can not remember the time. I do not follow the count, but it was a long time ago. He usually hides from me, but I can always feel him when he is around. It was a stormy night when I found him in the Gallery, alone. He felt my presence and he turned around; he said “Anne, Anne, why are you here?
And I answered; you should know… since you ordered my death.
He looked at me for a long time, and he finally said the words I wanted to hear since that horrible day; he said: Anne, forgive me. I destroyed all that I loved and cared of in my days — my greed, my obsession for a male heir… my madness, my fears, turned me in to a monster. I sent you to a death you did not deserved. I killed you, but you must know that even when I hid it. I never forgot about you. That is why I kept Elizabeth away for a long time… Every time I looked at her… I was seeing you; and that was a torture to my conscience! But you won Anne. The son I had with Jane was not the monarch I dreamt; but our daughter… she was greater than me, greater than my forefathers! She was the True Tudor Rose! Anne, oh Anne, I am a tormented soul. I am doomed to be trapped in the ruins of my deeds and I deserve it. If only I could turn back time… and be more human and less king, more a man and less a tyrant…forgive me, forgive me.
He stood there, waiting for my answer, but I could not speak. I just walk slowly towards him, and I touched his face with my cold and pale hand, and I saw our lives in flashes of light. I saw the best moments of our fairy tale romance, and then I smiled, and finally found the words for him: “Your Majesty… even when you caused me pain, agony, fear, deception and sorrow, I can not hate you. In the times when you used to love me, you made me the most happy; you gave me all, you made me your queen, and you also helped me with the blessing of motherhood. Elizabeth was part of you and me, the glory of our existence, and the fruit of the love we once shared. I can not forget the suffering you caused me. You condemned me even when you knew in your heart that I was innocent. For that… I can not give you a full pardon. But I do not hate you, because I loved you… and because the glorious memory of Elizabeth will always remind me of it. Tell me my lord… Do you remember the passion we shared? I do — our love was like no other… our passion was never seeing in the open like we showed it. Can you remember that?
When I asked him that his expression changed. He smiled and I swear that I saw the shine of tears in his eyes. We looked at each other for the longest time. We were remembering the passion that made both of us immortal in the annals of history. He says to me: “We were to powerful to be man and wife. We competed all the time. You wanted to be on top of me, to be higher than me and I could not allow that! But I admit that I always longed for the passion you gave me, and when I see you know, with the beauty that charmed me… I feel the pain of being dead.
After a moment, I said to him: “Not only my cruel and undeserved death will torture you forever, the passion, the lust and the intense love I gave you, will always live in your mind, eternally. I marked you as well as you marked me, your majesty.
Immediately I saw in his eyes that familiar anger that he always showed to me when he felt defeated, when he wanted to be stronger than me at any cost. With a frowned face, he disappeared in a cold and furious phantom breeze. Since then, I can only feel him, but I can not see him. Henry… my love and my damnation, the seed of this purgatory.
The night is long and I continue with my travel around the ruins and places where I once lived, smiled, cried and despaired. And in the gallery… near the old main chamber, I find her one more time… It is strange… I have not seen her over a century and tonight. She once again dares to appear before me, the woman who carried the seal of my death behind her innocent face… Jane Seymour. Like in the first time I saw her after… her unexpected passing, she carries a candle and her face is adorned with the grey glitter of sadness. Here we are again, face to face, but of course… in extremely different circumstances. I finally speak to her translucent image: “Jane… this night must be somehow special, since I see thee and just one moment ago I was meditating about his Majesty”.
She was staring at me, with tearful eyes, and finally she answered: “Have you seen my son? I am trying to find him but I can not”. She is indeed lost in her own misery. Her punishment was harder than mine. It is true that I lost two babies, but at least I had the joy of spent time with my Elizabeth. I was blessed with the chance to be a mother… even when that chance was minimum.
I do not know how to answer to her. Suddenly her expression changed… she now seems to recognize me: “Anne, Anne Boleyn; we are both trapped between the dead and the living. I did to you, what you did to Queen Catherine of Aragon. We moved the world and we acted with cruelty for the love and power of the same man. We lost our purity, our sense of humanity and care for others. I was overjoyed when you die…I must admit that sometimes… My conscience tortured me. I assumed the same happened to you in your time. But I ask you now… in mercy, please forgive me so I can escape this limbo and reached the soul of my son.
The bitterness of my days are still with me. It is true that I was a huge contribution in the sadness and misery of Queen Catherine of Aragon, but I did not sent her to a brutal and unmerciful execution. Catherine died abandoned, and so did I — but she had the consolation of prayers. She will always be remembered as a sacred monarch, while I… Some say that I desired Catherine of Aragon’s death, that I even poisoned her but that is a lie. When I was desperate, paranoid and lost in the wild seas of wine and lonely nights, I said things than later I regretted. Knowing myself, if somehow I meant those threats in my days for sure I would have put them in action, but I never did.
Finally, I speak to the waiting spirit of Queen Jane Seymour: Alas Jane, I can not give you that. I carry a lot of pain with me… you are true when you said that I was the cause of Queen Catherine of Aragon’s misery, but you caused me greater pain. Because of you I lost my last chance to survive as queen and human being. I lost my boy because of you and because of Henry too. You said you rejoiced in my death, and then you want my forgiveness. Why should I be merciful with you, when you were never merciful with me?
Jane bows her head, and then looks at me again: “I am sorry that I caused you pain… but I guess, it will be impossible to forgive when we are not able to pardon ourselves. My son died young… while your daughter reigned long and supreme. I envy you so much for that, even in death. I gave him the son he wanted…. You did not, but I failed because he was weak and he died, while you will always be remembered eternally as the woman who gave birth to the greatest monarch England ever had. You see? I think I do not deserve your pardon after all. Jane disappears.Nnow I pity her… She is envious of me, and she can not even find the soul of her son. At least I do not have that burden upon me anymore.
I continue with my nightly routine in Hampton Court. The night is walking towards its end, but I still have time to enjoy my freedom. Suddenly… I hear the heavenly sound of a violin. It must be him, my dear friend Mark Smeaton! Oh; Mark, you are here…and you are playing the violin for me. I feel touched by the sweet notes he is playing, and then, my joy arises more when he appears before me, near the entrance of what it once were Henry’s main bedchamber.
I walk towards him with a smile, and he smiles back while he continues to play Como poden per sas culpas. This one brings so many memories back to me… especially of my younger days, when my passion for Henry burnt more than the wildest fire. Mark… my poor Mark, he died for my cause… and innocent soul dragged to darkness thanks to the cruelty of the almighty and unjust Henry VIII, and my failure to give him what he wanted. I smile with sadness towards my dear friend Mark… he did not deserve that bloody and cold death.
Suddenly, he stops playing, and comes closer to me: My glorious queen and friend, please do not be sad for me, because as long as you decide to wander here… I will be around to please you with my music. My death was my own. Torture can turn a man in to a coward in the blink of an eye. I paid for that… but now I am here… to make your burden less hard to bear.
With that, he starts to play the violin again. I smile and nod to him, then I look to my left, and there I see a gentleman that I will always remember with sorrow, Sir Henry Norris. In my days of despair I was disrespectful and unfair with him, but fear was the detonator for that — but I can see no hard feelings in his presence. He is there, looking peacefully at me, with the same admiration and that flirty essence that somehow condemned him in the end. He bows with elegance before me, and disappears. I turn my gaze to Mark again, and he continues to play the violin with greatness and a very subliminal essence.
But suddenly he stops playing, and disappears. I feel a tense aura, a coldness that is no natural not even for us. When I turn around, I see three of my old enemies… together. Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. I have no reason to fear them or hate them anymore. There is nothing we can do to re-do our lives or make all different, but when I look at them, I see they do not feel the same.
In an instant, Cromwell leaves his place beside Wolsey and appears right in front of me. Then he says: “I see you still here Madame; it seems all of us will continue to see each other eternally… until judgment day.
I smile to him and then reply: Judgment day? I have been judged already my lord Cromwell, but when the Lord comes back to pass His own judgment to the living and us, the dead; I will be calmed, since I died innocent, and with so little guilt.
Cromwell smiles, I know he has more to say: “Little guilt you said, Majesty. If I well remember you caused the downfall of that poor man over there. You and all your Boleyn kin, and of course, the Howards. I see your uncle around here from time to time, and his son; the poor boy; even in death both are difficult to bear. And then… I still remember how you treated me, on your days of queen.
I am ready to answer him: Is true I helped in the downfall of Wolsey… but he was not a saint. He had his deeds but yes, I and my kin as you well said, we took advantage of that. Sir Thomas More hated me, and I guess I returned him the same feeling. I am well aware that he died because of me; for sure after his death Henry began to hate me. And I remind you that my attacks against you were well based. I was right because you were misleading our reformation, and you supported the King’s liaison with Jane Seymour. And worst, you built an abominable plot against me. You sent me to the scaffold when you knew I was innocent. You damned your soul only to please the King. And how it ended? With your death…even more bloody than mine, you suffered… for sure you felt an immense amount of pain, and endless agony. You tried to reach beyond heaven… and your fall was terrible. Now… anything else you wish to tell me, my lord Cromwell?
Cromwell looks at me with rage in his eyes, but I can also see pain and devastation in his presence. He disappears. Then I look at the ghostly presence of Cardinal Wolsey. He is just there, in silence, but I can see the hate in his eyes towards me. He walks away, and fades in the distance. Finally, Sir Thomas More turns his back and disappears. I am alone again, so I decide to continue with my journey.
I walk near the King’s private Chapel, when I hear the sound of a young girl sobbing. I look towards the gallery and then I see her… poor Catherine Howard. my poor little cousin, who shared my fate. She looks at me, and then she comes running like a desperate soul in need. She is finally before me, her expression of panic touches my heart: “Please, I need to see the King, he has to listen to me. Please let me see him. I beg you! I must see him — don’t you understand? As soon as I see him everything will be all right!
I feel pity for her… She is not entirely a lost soul; she is an echo of an extreme sorrow, pain and desperation. I look at her with tenderness: “My poor child, and sweet cousin, there is no need for you to be in despair. All is over. You do not need to see the King and beg for forgiveness; is over”.
She looks at me with tears in her eyes. They are like little drops of ice: “How can you say that?! Is not over! I know I can make him understand. He loves me. He will forgive me! I need to speak to him!
It is useless. She is lost in her agony and the fear she suffered. It make me feel sad when I see her like that. She walks through me and starts to hit the Chapel doors and screams Henry’s name and begs for mercy. Tired of not having a response, she disappears in front of the Chapel doors. Poor Katherine Howard…. It was not her fault either. Like me she was a moth drawn to the flame… and burnt.
The cold of the night is fading away….that means the dawn is near — and now I am here, contemplating the resting place of my beloved daughter, Elizabeth. I am so proud of her, fiercely proud. She was so clever… The Queen who is still remembered in this era. As The Virgin Queen, her reign was a golden age. She was strong, just, kind, candid, fair. She was the best of Henry and me. But alas, love was not kind with her…She never married, even when she loved with all her being… like I did once. Suddenly, I hear the laughter of a child, a playful breeze walks beside me and then… I see her… Elizabeth, she looks like the last time I see her, my beautiful baby girl. She decided to appear before me, just like in the last time I held her in my arms. I smile as I see her. I can not believe it!
As ghosts we can do as we wish… and she wants to be my baby girl again. I walk towards her. I pick her up and I hold her again. She looks so beautiful and sweet: “My sweet and beloved Elizabeth, I loved you since I saw you for the first time… I loved you then and I love you now with the same force that nature brings in motherhood. You did great in life. You honored your name, your blood and your destiny. Your father is also very proud of you. My beautiful virgin Queen; my Elizabeth.
She looks at me with bright eyes, is in her eyes where she is showing me all the events of her life… the story of her, who filled my life with joy, my last triumph in this life was her. And then she smiles, oh how much I missed that sweet smile. I hold her, is wonderful how God can continue blessing the souls of those who are still trapped in the walls of the past, like me… like so many others. And then, I hear footsteps. I do not dare to look back, since I can recognize who it is. Then, I hear her voice:
“You can hold her with pride, Ana Bolena. You proved in the end that you were better than me, in capturing the heart of Henry; and your daughter… was your redemption. Since I have to admit, that you die innocent.
Still holding Elizabeth, I slowly turn around, and I see her, Queen Catherine of Aragon. She is there, and I can not see hate in her eyes. I respectfully make a little curtsey to her, and to my surprise, she nods and then does the same. “My poor Mary died young… your Elizabeth had a long and prosperous life… She was right and was wise when she decided to never marry. She was he own ruler, her own keeper. She was stronger than us. I am now ready to answer: “Madame, I admit I was arrogant in my days… but I never turned my threats into actions against you or against your daughter. Alas, I know I caused you pain and misery, and I tried to reach your daughter’s heart but… her mind was poisoned against me, even when I know, that she was… correct in feeling hate towards me. I destroyed her parent’s marriage.
She smiles to me, and peacefully replies: “My marriage was dead before you entered in our lives. I just… did not want to admit it. I loved Henry with a force stronger than myself, stronger than the world itself and that… that made me blind. Also my Spanish Pride made me stubborn enough to fight for what was mine. My pride… my love for Henry, my worthless fight for my place as Queen, that also destroyed Mary. If I could turn back time, I would probably do all different. I shall have let him go to you… probably Mary would had suffered less.
She is touching my heart with her words. I look at Elizabeth, she looks so peaceful in my arms: “I am sorry, your majesty; for all the pain my presence caused in your lifetime”.
She once again smiles: “I pardoned you and Henry a long time ago… that is why I am not trapped as you are, as many of those I knew are. I come down and up again…because I still want to find my daughter, but she is not here… She is not within this walls, or in the ruins of our times. She is trapped elsewhere, in a darker place. Her bitterness, her sad and damaged soul twisted her mind, and she lost the way I taught her. Mi preciosa Mary. I lost her, forever.
With that, she walks away, and disappears in the distance. I look at the window on my left, and I can see the first rays of the sun between the dark clouds of the dying night. It is time to go back to the walls, to the ruins, to hide from the presence of the living. I look at my darling daughter once more: “Time to sleep, my baby girl, go to rest, mama will do the same…go to the angels my sweet Elizabeth. I will guard your dreams, eternally. She smiles, and slowly disappears from my arms, like a soft cold breeze. Now I feel so empty, but I know I will see her again… since we belong here…this is our home, the memories keep us alive, and as long as we are remembered, we will never die.