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Why me? she wondered. Why did she get an invitation, or rather the summons, to the lady Grey execution? Death penalty had been out of fashion for centuries, criticized even in the countries where it still was applied. And that one was going to be death by beheading, a method so uselessely, so dramatically bloody and violent. It needed a good headsman, a ruthless executioner. A death professional.

But why me? she asked again. I don't even know the reason of that capital sentence.

She had got the invitation some hours before. Even though it was presented as an honor, it really was an obligation. Antoinette had to attend, the following morning, or else... There weren't any explicit threats but it was clear that any absence would be punished.

Why me? thought Antoinette, over and over. She spent the night wondering. She managed to sleep only for a few minutes. Soon she woke up asking herself why?, how, what shall I do, what does all this mean. She tried to understand the sense of the invitation she had got, bidding her to assist to the lady Grey death sentence.

What if... Maybe I've been invited because af all those waking dreams, when I saw the other one, my rival, sliding off a boat, flying down a tower, falling in a precipice in front of me, and I couldn't do anything to save her, except... except risking my own life. But I hated her too much for that. Maybe my guilt are those hate flames filling my eyes at times, when I was angry or desperate.

Forgiveness is so difficult. Especially with oneself. That was perhap s her own condemnation. From herself, to herself. But what crime had chained her?

She thought how the sight of a dead pigeon scared her, her pity for a squashed ant. She thought of every time she had tried to become a vegetarian. She thought that being at the beheading was to take part in an omicide, even though someone could say it was to do justice. She was invited as a spectator, but she felt she was going to be the executioner herself.
And yet she had wished to see the death of her rival, when she stole her man... She had wanted the death, if onlyfor a moment, of the people she hated in that moment. Her same death too, of course. How often did it happen?

She knew by now that her everyday life was constantly at war: one side of herself against the other one. In her lived a whole world of murderers and victims. It was herself, always herself, both the killer and the killed. She tightened around her neck the thinnest, reddest ribbon, she put the palest powder on her face. She was ready now.

The End

© 2000, Carla Della Beffa