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The Guillotine


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The crowd is wild. People are jeering all around me as a horse drawn carriage comes around the corner. The executioner is trembling. Sweat beads pour down his face, and his collar was already discolored from a porcelain white to an egg shell color. Although it is clear to me how disturbed he truly is he is keeping his composure for the crowd. The tricoteuses, the women knitting, by the base of my scaffold seem almost emotionless. They sit very calmly and are leaning against my support beam knitting stockings for soldiers. Men and women alike, dirty and ragged watch with eyes lined with fear and curiosity. Never in my creation have I ever heard such noise. Voices filled with anger and hatred scream up at me. This made me feel even more nervous then I already was.
This is my first execution and my sharp blade is ready for its first slaughter. I’m glistening in the sun and reflecting all the emotions of which I stand for. I am the representation of the people’s anguish. The frustration of the third class, and the inequality among the people that has started a revolution in France. However, I don’t believe they are clear as to what they want. In fact, I’m sure of it, as they look onto the arriving former king with blood lust. The radical Jacobins and their leaders have turned their desperation for change into an insane attempt to rid their cities of civilization. The ideas of enlightenment once stood for change in a positive direction, but now they’re just an excuse for a blood bath. Robespierre spoke with me today giving me the most inspiring pep talk any guillotine could ask for. Speaking to me of his devious plans to rid all those opposed to the revolution, in other words, the nobles and aristocrats. I fear that he will take this to an extreme level that will condemn him to his fate of death by his own people. Inspired by the American Revolution and unfair treatment of the monarchy, Max and his followers have decided to rid themselves of the man they hold accountable for their suffering, King Louis XVI. The National Convention has denounced Louis to common citizen and prisoner. They’ve also tried him for treason and sentenced him to death, today.

The carriage pulls up and out steps a hefty looking Louis. They have cut his hair and removed the collar of his shirt so that I might have a clear shot. He climbs the steps with great dignity as he is being reread his sentence. To my surprise I spotted pity amongst some members of the crowd, but few in numbers of course. I am quite frightened by Louis size. I trembled deep within my wooden boards. Nerves chased up and down my release cords, but I held strong and tried deeply not to embarrass myself by collapsing or letting my blade fall too soon.
He stumbles slightly on a step and the crowd bursts out laughing over the steady beating of the drums. Louis flushes red, a deep crimson color that I know all too well will soon match the remains to be left on my blade and spread out amongst the onlookers of this event. He starts to struggle a bit and it takes more than one well dressed soldier of the rebellion to tie him down. I’m shaking because the weight on the board he has been strapped to is almost too much for me to bear. It would be equivalent to a human attempting to support the weight of a full grown horse. Eventually a person’s knees would buckle from beneath them and betray them to the ground. I, however, am not some weak human being. I am built with substance. I am made to withstand great pain.
The wooden blocks that are to hold Louis’ head in place do not seem able to wrap themselves around his thick neck. I begin to feel queasy as I try to wrap myself around the flesh. The executioner, still trembling, is demanding me to drop down my blade and sever the head of the former king. I am desperately afraid that I will miss my mark, but my soul purpose is to obey his commands and so I do with what I can. The wind races me down for the plunge, and I shut my eyes to avoid the splatter of the royal blood. Stupidity among the human race is astonishing. I missed my mark. I blush with surrounding shadows of people horrified as to what they are now witnessing. The cheering for death has ended as they gape with open mouths. All is silent and the executioner and his assistants are at a loss as to what to do. Stuck at the jaw, I am still struggling to break through but I alone am not capable of getting through the fatten flesh and bone. Louis is gaping for air and I can feel the pain vibrating from his large, massive body. His face is draining color; pale sickly looking skin is now replacing what once portrayed vibrant life. I scream out with a creak from my boards as my view becomes the inside of his head. This is embarrassing enough that I let my people down by not delivering a clean cut, but I might also fall right here, right now, from the agonizing weight. Suddenly, a combined force has overcome me and relieved me of my suffering and worry, and I’m soon released from such disgrace as the head falls rightfully in the basket.

All of the spectators cheer violently as the executioner retrieves the head from the basket and holds up for all to see. They are proud and a devilish glow surrounds me as everyone races up to congratulate me. Everyone is reaching up to touch the body I have just dismembered to honor my success. This is not quite how I envisioned my first execution to go, but I have pleased the people with my effort and I swear to you that I will only continue to get better for the next year and a half.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

TannerB said...
Feb. 1, 2012 at 9:00 am:
Great story! I loved the point of view you used. It helped me understand how he was feeling better.
 
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Jsullivan said...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 7:56 am:
I like how instead of using a person you used a guillotine. Its something different from the everyday description and feelings of a human being. I enjoyed reading it.
 
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Kgirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm:
Wow that was really well written and descriptive.  There was good imagery and I like your extremely original idea.  But you might want to work on your tense throughout your writing...it kept changing between present and past.
 
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ponzianif said...
Oct. 22, 2009 at 6:48 pm:
This story is descriptive… It is descriptive enough to cancel out the gruesome parts. Your word choice, “pale, sickly looking skin is now replacing what once portrayed vibrant life,” makes me shudder because I can picture the scene. The anxiousness that the guillotine portrays is macabre but riveting; I could not help but to finish this piece.
I also like how you personified the guillotine. “This is my first execution and my sharp blade is ready for its fir... (more »)
 
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windblossom said...
Oct. 2, 2009 at 10:42 am:
Its very very well written! i loved your perception of the surroundings and your choice of adjectives! great work!! :) This surely goes to my favourites!!
 
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