I remember the feeling of a bag pulled over my head. It blocked most everything except the sun. I was pulled along to the ring with it shining down on me.
I’d seen the ring before, of course. A spacious place that could seat thousands. It would be full today, I knew that. A packed house, all for me.
The sack itched. It rubbed against my face, and I wanted to scratch beneath, more than anything, but I couldn’t. My hands were tied behind my back. It distracted from the smell some though, which I could appreciate even then. The sack must have been used for grains or oats once-upon-a-when. While that wasn’t a terrible smell, when I thought about it too long, it bothered me I wasn’t worth even a clean blinder.
It shouldn’t have surprised me. The type of men who took another’s shoes were not the type to consider something fresh, especially not for the ring.
People called out when I entered. I remember that. Their shouts. They hated me, and I knew it, I knew how glad they were that I was here, imprisoned, how glad they were that the sand was hot beneath my cracked heels. That my face itched and I couldn’t scratch it.
That was okay. I hated them too, everyone gathered together that day. I loathed them their cheers, jeers, and sheep-like compliance. When the sack came off, I didn’t look at them, not from shame, but as an act of rebellion, tiny and insignificant, but it was mine.
They pushed me toward the center. People closest to the center threw thing at me; some had rocks, but most were rotted fruit. The smell and the mess mattered most, because they forced me to stumble through it, that mold-ridden sticky mass.
I forgot all about it when I was forced to my knees. The man who’d shoved me down wore his own bag, but his was nice, clean, black. I could see his eyes though, and I’d never encountered such coldness before. He should have felt remorse, or at least pity, but he did not. This was a job to him, nothing more. I was a job, nothing more. He spoke rough and low, a voice that must have scratched his throat on the way out, and his words were the standard offer.
It was my last time to be heard, and I could have said a thousand things, condemned them all. How I wanted to! To use my last few breaths to lecture and abuse. But somehow it was a prayer that came to me instead and I spat it out like poison.
The block was wooden. My head didn’t fit quite right, but what did that matter? A splinter broke off into the skin of my neck. I felt it, but not the pain. Too much adrenaline pumping through my veins, and I wished that I could have had that much energy before. How much I could have done with it!
Then the whistle of the axe. Oh, how I remember that. The sound it made as it came crashing down. That’s all. No pain, no suffering, no screams, no cries. Just the whistle of the ax, and darkness. Peace.
I remember how I died. I just don’t remember why.