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January 4, 2010 / Siobhan Argent

The Last Monologue: the Dying Stages of Marie-Antoinette


The Last Monologue: the Dying Stages of Marie-Antoinette. This work of fiction won first prize for the ‘Teen Short Story’ section at the Greater Dandenong Writing Awards in 2006.

I…I must make my peace with god soon or I will die unprepared. Pray for me, my Lord. I need to pray, I need to be saved, save me my Lord or I will be so afraid, I will be more afraid.

A man called Henri is cutting off my hair. Louis called it the hair of an angel, les cheveux d’un ange. I watch it fall around me like old snow, in the midst of all this the only thought that pervades my mind is my hair, my hair, forget my hair it is worthless now, it is all worthless, forget the body it will be forfeit to the power of an angry nation.

My days everlasting spent in this pit deep in the bowels of the Conciergerie. The old saying keeps returning to me, oh, how the mighty have fallen, I have fallen, fallen. Louis is gone before me, I to follow his footsteps lead me away now finish with your punishment on me.

Don’t rest my hands on my dress, the combination feels uncomfortably stark, white on white, all is pale in the darkness, stop it, stop thinking of it, knowing…why did I choose white? Knowing the dress will make the blood red stain all the more visible, like it has already happened and I am watching. Will I be watching? I realise that soon I will know. I tremble like a leaf.

What have I done to deserve this? The anger of France has been bent headstrong forcefully without repentance on two people, it was started and Louis would not stop it because he stops nothing, too gentle that he is, that he was and now he and I and our children will pay for his…for his, I cannot think of the word my head too overflowing, for his gentleness when I told him, I told him it was not to be borne, but I never envisaged…

They bring me out to the tumbril. They are not gentle, les gendarmes. They don’t like me, I know all of France hates me and I would cry for it but I have not tears left to use, they were spent on my husband and son and my recollections of what once was, I want to kick and flail and scream until I am hoarse but something stops me, I think…out in the harsh daylight which sinks into my eyes tortured I know exactly, exactly in my heart what is to happen, I can suddenly feel it with frightening intensity which makes me want to drag my feet like an unruly dog. That is what they think of me I am sure but they untie my hands when I ask because I need to relieve myself. Pitiful as it is, everything is a last time. This will be the last time I piss, and I find myself doing it in public view in the courtyard of the Conciergerie, how the mighty have fallen it keeps coming back to me even though I don’t want it to, I think now somebody please kill me but the answer presents itself and I realise with absolute certainty I don’t want to die…I get in the tumbril.

I never imagined it to be like this, for all to end so savagely. So cold outside, so blank and grey and unfeeling, untouched. Centuries of rule gone, the streets of Paris running red with blood, the last vestiges of our church faded into the lead-coloured horizon and I feel nothing, and it weighs so heavily upon me. The tumbril door opens.

Did Louis step here also? Did his death’s feet pave the way for mine?

On the scaffold I trip I-I-I stumble step on the executioner’s left foot. I look up at him…he…he looks unkindly on me, he cries out in pain for a moment I think maybe he is exaggerating it, make the Queen seem like the…the…like the centre of all his pain, the source. So many watching, if I were naked it would be no less violating, it would make no difference, maybe I should strip now just to defy them all, no don’t be stupid, you die with a sense of dignity, die as the Queen, I want to die all with dignity don’t give them the satisfaction…I feel afraid that I have offended the executioner, though my head tells me I should have no such care and my heart tells me nothing; it is spent already, dead physical death will bring nothing new to its core it being spent already. I try to take a deep breath but the air seems stoppered completely, an anvil on my chest.

“Je vous demande pardon, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait expré.”

I beg your pardon, sir. I did not do it on purpose.

Were these to be my last words?

My neck is locked in, hands bound, body trembling. I try to think beyond my own body, beyond what I have here but I can’t, I just can’t it’s all too real and penetrating…

Was an apology to be my last words? Something profound, I want to say something profound, I don’t want to be forgotten, don’t let them forget me oh how the mighty have fallen forgive me my sins Lord…

Is that what you want, France?

Is an apology what you want?

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Saw / Oct 8 2012 1:24 PM

    WOW!

    • Siobhan Argent / Oct 10 2012 8:57 AM

      Thanks!

  2. Angela Cole Brown / Feb 26 2013 7:20 AM

    Who wrote this? Where is is published? I need to find an original copy. Thanks!

    • Siobhan Argent / Feb 26 2013 9:00 AM

      Hi Angela,

      I wrote this (Siobhan Argent). As noted in the top of the post, it won first prize in a short story writing competition and was published in the Greater Dandenong Writing Awards 2006 anthology (which is, alas, not for sale now). If you need to reference this piece in something, please use this blog.

      What are you referencing it for? (Curious.)

      Thanks,
      Siobhan

      • Angela Cole Brown / Feb 27 2013 5:46 AM

        Hi Siobhan, Thank you so much for your quick response. I have a student performing this monologue at a competition this weekend. The rules state that all selections have to be from published sources and they ask for an ISBN # also. Thank you so much for the information. If you have any more information about the publication that you can post, that would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Siobhan Argent / Feb 27 2013 8:50 PM

    Great! I’m sorry I can’t give you an ISBN as I can’t find the anthology! Good luck with the competition – let me know how you go.

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