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Erotic Death Tales by Hitomi
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                                                                    "Salome"                             "The Last Night of Clytemnesta"
The Final Hours of Beatrice Cenci

I can feel his presence. No, it is not a sound or a breath or anything like that. I know he is there, standing over
me as I lie on the hard prison floor trying to get sleep.

Lucrezia, my poor step-mother, is not far away from me, asleep in total exhaustion. Awaiting for our final fate is
testing on the nerves. Our defense advocate, Farinaccio, has assured her that we stand a good chance to have
our punishment reduced: a life imprisonment perhaps, or to be confined to a convent till the last days of our
lives. I am not that sure. Something inside me tells me that clemency, although being considered, will not come,
that the break of dawn will bring us out from this cold cell into the open city one last time. I can even hear the
sound of wood being sawed, nails being hammered to make ready for the scaffold of execution. This is not
possible, I know. The walls are too thick and the cell too deep into the dungeon to allow any such sound to
penetrate to our ears. Yet, I do hear them.

Am I afraid? A little. Being still in my youth, I am reluctant to die. They say I am just sixteen, fifteen even. I know I
have passed that. But what does it matter? Like a bud in early spring, I am supposed to bloom and grow. Now I
know I will never be the glorious summer rose that is expected of me. The blade falls and the rest is darkness.
Or will it be that? Do I suffer the sins of patricide as they convicted me and hence am condemned to the eternal
fires of Hell? Even now I can imagine those flickering tongues of the flames as they devour my flesh and turn
them to ashes, only to have it grown back a day later to suffer the same punishment again, and again, until
eternity. I shudder at the thought of pain but fear it not. If I am given the choice again to do it or to remain a
silence accomplice to what Francesco did to me, I will do the same again without hesitation. My hands were as
sure on the hammer that had driven the nails above his eyes as those of poor Olympio’s. I did not do it. But I had
arranged to have his murder and insisted on it being carried out when the two faltered. Yes, according to their
Laws I AM guilty.

But should a maiden suffer her ultimate shame in silence, despite that the very violation of her chastity was by
her own father, blood and flesh? Oh, the shame! How can I ever erase it? I have bathed a thousand times since
and his vile sweat has clung to my skin like thickest glue. Yes, I hate him and wish nothing more than bringing
about the death of such a monster. But I did it only when no other recourse was open to me. My appeal to His
Holiness had fallen on deaf ears. “Give me liberty in marriage or confine me to a convent where I can pass my
years and wither at least in peace.” Silence. Despair. Humiliation. Hatred. Murder.

They always called me a clever girl, clever, brave and divinely beautiful. I know my looks attractive. The mirrors
never lie, as men do. I know I am brave, as my persisting denial in spite of being subjected to the cruelest
torture. Ah. How my limbs suffer on that damned rack. They were going to put me to Las Veglia, to have me
stripped naked, my arms bound behind my back and tied to a rope from the ceiling, my legs tied by the ankles to
a bar which in turn was attached to a staple in the wall, while another rope round my chest was also attached to
the side walls. My body would come into contact with the sharpened point of a pyramid bloc on a tripod and the
whole thing worked by a pulley on the ceiling. At every pull the loose rope would twist every joint of my body and
they said none had gone through this without pleading for a confession. I was bracing myself for that eventuality,
biting my lip as my naked body was being raised when my mother and brothers were brought in, pleading me to
confess, as they had already done so.

And so I finally gave in, not out of fear, but from compassion for my tormented Lucrezia and my youngest
brother, Bernardo. I signed the confession they put before me.

And with it, came release, peace and even bliss. Our fate is out of our hands now. Only His Holiness the Pope
would decide: compassion or death.

There had been hopes: talks, encouragements from my advocate and other high officers of the holy Church.
For had I not been driven by the crimes against my honor, by the wide-known atrocities committed by
Francesco, the man who gave me flesh and blood as a father? Had he not wished the death of all his seven
children, tormented the woman whom he had chosen as his second wife and forced her to witness the most
unholy rape by a father on his own child? If the Holy Father, as the God chosen one to administer justice, would
not understand or pardon such act of defense, then how could there be justice in this world at all?

Giacamo had since tried to place all burden of guilt on me. I do not blame him. He has a wife and two children in
the nursing. A desperate animal will try all things possible to be spared the butcher’s knife, even at the expense
of pushing one of his blood kin to take his place. I pity him: my being guilty or not will not absolve him from his
crime. He knew, he endorsed and he was not under daily torment as Lucrezia and I were. Then he will be found
guilty and fitting for the scaffold was beyond doubt. Only he thinks by nailing me would save his neck.

What breaks my heart most is Bernardo. If I am just a budding rose, he is a lamb. He knows not the full meaning
of all that is done, though he too, is conscious of the act. How I love him! The haunting thought of his mounting
the steps of the scaffold has driven out my sleep on endless nights. God! If mercy be shown to any, let it be on
him. God, let him live! And I will make my peace with you.

I open my eyes, slowing, adjusting them to the dim light slipped in from the cracks of the door from the corridor. I
was not mistaken. He is there.

“Who are you?” I asked. There was no trembling or disturbance in my voice. For deep inside, I was already
aware who my visitor was. It was not a question, but a request for confirmation.

“I am whom you expected.” He replied.

I nodded. So, this was it. He came. This could only mean our fates were sealed.

“I thought ….we might be pardoned. They told me so.” I kept my voice down so as not to wake up Lucrezia who
was still fast asleeping.

“Almost so. But Clement changed his mind.” The very way he called the Pope was, under different
circumstances, amusing.

“He changed his mind?” I found my voice rising.

“He is an old man and he is afraid.”

“Afraid?”

“Afraid of seeing children to murder their fathers.”

I froze. The dawning of the idea of death sent a shiver down my spine.

“And why are you here?”

“To accompany you, to give you strength.”

I took a deep breadth. “And will I be sent to Hell?”

“What do you think? Do you deserve to burn in Hell?”

“That is why they told me if I do not confess and repent my sin.” I said.

“But you did confess.”

“But I never repented.”

“Yes, you did not.” He sighed.

“So?”

“You will know, soon enough.”

I managed to let a smile form by curving my lips, a cruel one.

“Are you afraid? “ He asked.

I nodded. It seemed so pointless to lie. Who would not be afraid to be so close to death? Now he has come, the
possibility of oblivion after the blade falls is removed. Divine mercy, or everlasting fire. Which one it would be?

“They are coming now. Be brave.” He said.

“Why do you come? “ I asked again.

“I want to. It is the least I can do.” There was a tint of sadness in his tone. If his kind is capable to love, then he
doubtlessly had fallen in love with me.

I could hear heavy foot-steps now, down the spiral staircase, the long, dark corridor. The hymns, pleading
absolution, sung by hooded monks and brethren as they marched with the huge crucifix towards the cell of the
condemned. Lucrezia had waken up. Her face registered fright. But I knew she could not see him. She moved
towards the door and stood petrified as it was pulled back. At the sight of the hooded men bringing the crucifix,
she screamed.

I tried my best not to tremble as I listened to the sentence. Lucrezia and I were to be taken to the streets of
Rome , to the open space before the Castello Saint’Angelo and there in full public view, were to be beheaded.
Giacomo was to suffer the cruelest fate of all, to have his head smashed to pulp by a mallet, then his body
quartered and hung on hooks. My only consolation was that Bernardo would be spared, only to sit through the
execution to witness the execution of his step-mother, sister and eldest brother. He would then be sent back to
prison for one year and then served for life as a rower on one of the church’s galleys. All of our family heritage
was to be confiscated into the coffers of the Church.

“My God! Can it be possible I have to die so suddenly? So young to go under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy
ground?” I whispered, dazed by the final pronouncement.

The leading hooded man thought the question was directed to him.

“It is your deserving end. Patricide! When your hands are still stained with blood, do you dare proclaim your
innocence?” His voice was harsh.

I wished to retort but before knowing what happened, found myself speaking words that had never crossed my
mind. “According to your justice, you will certainly be able to prove I am guilty of my father’s death. But you will
never be able to prove that I am not at the same time innocent according to another justice, a justice which you
can neither know nor, even less, administer.”

There was an awkward silence in the cell. Then, I walked over to the shivering Lucrezia and folded her in my
arms.

“Kiss the feet of Christ and beg for God’s mercy.” The hooded man spoke with contempt.

We both knelt, crossed ourselves and then one by one, we kissed Christ’s feet on the crucifix.

We had written our wills some days ago, a precautionary move for such to happen. And now there was just one
last thing to do.

“I do not wish to die in a noblewoman’s attire. Bring what is proper for mother and I to wear to meet our ends.”

And this was done. And in private, my step-mother and I helped each other to put on the simple shift resembling
those the nuns wear in the convents.

“Are we proper?” I asked.

Lucrezia looked at me, as if I had lost my mind, for she saw no one else in the cell. It no longer mattered.

She nodded and I smiled.

“We are ready.” I called upon those waiting outside.

We were taken out of the cell and put on a cart towards our final destination. It was then that I realized so many
people had come out, hundreds of thousands. I turned for an explanation.

“They came to see, to say good-bye.” He said.

“For a murderer of her father?” I was puzzled.

“No, for the Roman virgin.”

“But I am not a virgin.”

“You are, in their hearts. You are their virgin and you will always be their legend.”

I took a deep breath and looked around. There was no cheering as processions of executions used to draw.
There was sadness, disbelief, protest of something unjust, anger. In their hands were flowers of every color,
ready to be heaped upon my bier at the moment when my fallen head was to be placed on my chest. I had
expressed my will to be buried in the Church of San Pietro in Montorio. May I be granted eternal peace there
and rest till the days of Final Judgment when my guilt or innocence be proclaimed before all, not by the laws of
this world, but by almighty God.

The cart rolled along the cobbler stones of Roman street . I stood erect and gazed ahead. Not far now! No long.
I looked at the other cart on which my brothers were standing. Giacomo showed remorse on his face. Was he
regretting the unkindness of trying to shift all burdens on me? I forgive you, my brother. I felt pity at his much
crueler form of punishment. But then, it was no longer within my power to do anything. I turned my gaze upon
Bernardo. From his eyes reflecting terror, I knew the migrated sentence was kept from him. He did not know yet
he would not die, not on this day. It was too far for me to let words pass between us. The guards would not have
allowed it in any case. So, I smiled. And Bernardo, seeing me, smiled back. He would soon know the meaning of
it. God! Thank you. Thank you for sparing my brother. Make him strong as he will need all this strength to
witness what will happen.

I can see the scaffold now, Not so tall above level ground. There was a ladder for us to walk up, a block where
we are to place our necks, an awful looking axe and a waiting basket. Lucrezia started to wail and she nearly
fainted at the sight of these but I held her arm and steadied her.

“Will you be looking at me when the axe fall?” I asked, without speaking. For now, it was no longer necessary for
sound to be emitted so that our thoughts can flow from one to another.

“Yes, I will.” There was a pain in his eyes. Can angels cry? Will he cry for me?

We reached the spot. They pulled Lucrezia down and she turned her head and looked at me with petrified eyes.

“It is alright, mother. We will meet again, soon.” I assured her.

She was only half-calmed by such words and they had to carry her all the way up the ladder. I watched her
stumble towards the block and then her knees buckled and she just fell and had to be dragged to be positioned
on the block. She did not move, unconscious in faint. This was merciful.

The axe fell and her head rolled. The spurt of blood dyed the platform red. I saw with disgust at the crimson on
the cutting edge of the instrument of death. Soon, it would be my blood.

They came for me. I did not need any helping hands and having climbed down the cart, walked boldly to the
waiting steps.

“Beatrice! Beatrice!”

I heard some of them shout out my name, in tenderness, in compassion. The others were stunned into silence,
by my innocence, by my youth, by my beauty and by my courage.

I left my slippers at the base of the ladder and climbed it without help. Then, I walked towards the block. The
executioner was tidying the blade, wiping the blood of Lucrezia off it. I turned and saw Bernardo being made to
sit at a corner of the platform and watch. His body was still shivering but from his eyes I knew now he had been
told, that he would not kiss Death but to witness it. I then turned towards him, still on the cart, watching, his great
wings fully spread now, so dazzling white. I knew I was the only one who could see him. He was looking at me,
giving me strength. I made a faint smile.

“Thank you.” I whispered.

Then I knelt, made the sign of the cross and placed my neck on the block. I also arranged my long golden hair
so that it would not obstruct the blade.

There was a confusion and it took them so time to fix it. I did not know how. The extra few moments of live
allowed me to run the course of my young life through my head, how my late mother had kissed me when I was
no more than a child, how I was sent to a convent with my elder sister, who had now mercifully been married and
spared all these, how those years had been my happiest, how I had dreamed to grow into a noble woman, to be
courted by knights and princes, how to raise a family of my own and give my own daughters the love and
tenderness I never quite received. I tried to brush away the painful ones, the molestation, the cruelty of my
father and the violent death which was brought about by me but it was in vain for these too, were part of me. I
thought of Olympio, how he had loved me, how he had slain and been slain. Poor Olympio! May God rest his
soul. I am sorry. I am so sorry for bringing you into this. You had done it for love, or at least you thought so. For
me, it was cold and instrumental. Yes, for this at least I am guilty. I have paid my price by offering him my body.
Now, I have to pay the remaining part of the payment, with blood.

I breathed hard, knowing well that each intake of breath could be my last. And I thought of him, standing on the
cart with those magnificent wings. My Angel of Death. Thank you. Thank you.

I heard the axe being lifted and then the nape of my neck split at the bite of the blade. I felt the rush of the
basket towards my face, or was it the other way round? I saw my body, still in kneeling position vibrated violently
as crimson red blood spurted from the neck stump. Is this Death? Why can I still feel? Someone is holding my
head high for all to see. There is no cheering but a mute silence. The executioner, not knowing what to do,
stood there dumbfounded. Then someone took the head from his hands, cleaned it and placed it on my chest as
now my body had been removed from the block and placed on a bier and carried to the base of the scaffold for
all to see. But why, why could I still see? And should I not have eyes to see? I could not have see my own head…

Giamoco was now being led onto the scaffold. He made a long speech, declaring Bernardo’s innocence. My
brother, oh, my brother. I forgive you, if just for this last act of kindness and selflessness. I do not wish to see
Giacomo’s cruel end. The mallet was heavy and a shattered skull was too much to bear.

He must have understood, for at that moment I felt a soaring into the blue. Everything turned so small, so
insignificant. I heard the flapping of wings.

“Where are we going to?” I asked, or rather, my soul asked.

“You will know, Beatrice, soon, you will know.” He replied, smiling.

(The End)
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Copyright Hitomi Satomi - please do not reproduce in any form without the author's permission.
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Comment from: Othello
Date: October 23, 2011

Such a deeply moving story, Hitomi. It illustrates so clearly the madness that so
pervades society (all through the course of history, really). Patricide of a monstrous,
abusive parent is to my mind defense of one's self...when safety and dignity are
assaulted, to become a warrior and strike down its source should receive the deepest
understanding.

But of course in that time (and for centuries before -- I wrote a poem on a similar
theme set in ancient Pompeii, and the punishment then was to be sewn into a bag
with living wild animals, and thrown into the river or the ocean to drown), there was
little hope of such understanding. Sadly, in many ways the world of today is still the
same.

Uppermost in this tale is Beatrice's humanity, dignity, and courage. You capture all of
those qualities in poignant manner, and make her final end a moment of tragedy, yes,
but also of freedom.
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Comment from: Nastassja
Date: October 23, 2011

Oh my god, Hitomi, this actually made me cry.

I'd never heard of Beatrice, but the way you portray her thoughts and feelings brought
her to such vivid, tragic life. You really are an amazing writer.

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Comment from: Hitomi
Date: October 24, 2011

Thanks both of you.

The story of Beatrice Cenci strengthened my loathe against the Vatican and so called
"infallibility of the Pope".  If not worse, the Holy See was cruel and corrupt
as any other human institution.  I learned about Beatrice Cenci first from a dvd of a
film made long ago and it moved me. After more in-depth study, I learned more, from
the long poem by Shelley, from stage- plays, books and especially from the portrait
said to be "Beatrice"(which turns out not very likely).  

I am sorry to have made you cry, Nat, hopefully they are happy tears. Long ago, I have
made up my mind to concentrate most of my work to tell stories about tragic (female)
figures in history, especially about the less known ones, as a kind of requiem and a
reminder to people that cruelty and injustice will not be forgotten and though it is
possible for evil to be victorious, history will come back and give fair judgment to
those wronged and the names and injustice suffered by the victims will not be easily
forgotten.

Women around the world are still suffering inequality and hardship, even cruelty of
the most unspeakable kind around the world.

I honestly think we should all try our best, even in very small steps, to help reduce or
eliminate such cruelties.  My chosen weapon is my pen (or rather, the keyboard).

I am in Thailand now and will stay here for the rest of the week.  so, if i am slow in
response, please bear with me.

Kisses.

Hitomi
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Comment from: Hitomi
Date: October 24, 2011

One thing more.

I nearly lost this story as somehow, it disappeared from my archive.  And I am grateful
for one of my readers who preserved it for me in his own file.

I think Beatrice is thankful too.
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Comment from: Nastassja
Date: October 27, 2011

Please don't apologize for making me cry, Hitomi. When a writer can stir such an
emotional response in me, it's really the most wonderful gift. Those moments are the
ones I live for as a passionate reader.

And thank you too for your encouragement for me to write as well as read...but I have
really no aspiration to become an author. I've always felt that creators and audience
have the most wonderful, special symbiosis, and I'm proud and happy to be the
audience, particularly to a writer as fine as you are.
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Comment from: Hitomi
Date: October 28, 2011

Oops. I just sent out my reply and the internet connection went dead.

Anyway, thanks for your nice comments. The wonderful tears of readers being moved
by writing is the best possible gift for a writer.

I just hope my future writings will not let you down.  It is in fact quite scary as
established zeniths are hard to surpass


Hope you like the next one coming up, another from Greek tradition, I believe, if Chris
or Othello does not change his mind.

Hitomi

PS: Do not worry about writing.  If and when the muse of writing calls, you will write.  
Otherwise, perfectly alright to be a reader and supporter (both in praise and in
critiques) for our punch behind keyboards.

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