A steady rainfall settled on the Place de la Concorde, soaking the mob around the Parisian square. But each new prisoner that walked down the cobblestone street breathed new life into the mob that had gathered since the morning when there was barely a drizzle. They had grown in number throughout the day. To them, each execution had led to this next, and final, one.
The prison gates squeaked open and two neat rows of uniformed soldiers marched through the prison courtyard. They were well trained and stepped in rhythm - quite a feat as they were merely the product of the Revolution with no true military experience.
The crowd, alive only seconds ago, grew silent as the soldiers stepped out of the gates and a wagon rolled onto cobblestones of the Place de la Concorde. A woman was shackled to a wooden stake in the center of the wagon. An adjacent block of wood had been nailed right beneath her hands, forcing her to stand.
Though she had only been out for a few minutes at most, the rain had quickly soaked her chestnut brown hair. Rain drops clung to her well defined jawline, before falling onto her simple prison gown. She was oblivious to both the mob and the rain and could only stare ahead at the guillotine that waited for her. There was a mixture of clear defiance and desperate sadness as the wagon neared its destination. She had cried endlessly the night before and had nothing left. Even if she did, the rain would mask any tears. Petty consolation at most.
As the stage of her death neared, she was battling to hold the cold convulsions in her body at bay. If she was to die today, it would be in simple and quiet defiance.
She knew he was within the crowd. She knew he was watching her. Would he save her? Could he? No. She would die here. But it was the thought she needed. The possibility of it was all that would get her through these last moments. Ironic to die by the same Revolution she had helped create.
The wagon came to a stop at the stage steps. A soldier pulled down the wagon steps and climbed up. He walked behind the woman and unshackled her, only to re-shackle her once she was released from the wooden stake. He walked her down and around the wagon. She was led up the stage and became visible to everyone. The crowd began chanting "viva la revolution".
On the stage stood a man of average height, stoic now as he looked her way.
The soldier walked her over to the wooden stocks. He placed her hands in the holes and locked them with a key. He did not bother to unshackle her hands.
"Do you confess?"
"No." her answer was considerably lower than his question. The crowd had grown considerably quiet by now. The man took a deep breath as he stared directly at her. The veins on the side of his neck swelled.
"Do you confess?"
She raised her eye brows and her voluptuous lips flashed a left-sided smirk. Their eyes remained in a tug of war. The crowd now accustomed to her image, started chanting for the guillotine to drop. Their roar grew with each repetition.
He leaned closer to her ear.
"That's the beauty of the mob. They are effortlessly swayed and manipulated. And all the while they think they are in control."
"Robespierre, can you hurry? My hair is getting wet."
He backed away and stared at her for a moment, tilting his head slightly to the right. Just as he returned her smirk, he turned to the mob around stage. He spread his arms and walked to the edge. The crowd cheered his name - Robespierre.
"Do you deserve to witness justice fall upon the corrupted?"
The mob roared in unison and his hands clenched into fists. His spread arms shook violently - an insane conductor in absolute control of his orchestra. He looked up at the gray sky as the rain fall showered on him. He turned his attention back to the mob.
"I cannot hear you!"
Robespierre's voice thundered over the chants. His arms remained spread, marking his dominion over them. His clenched fists had turned bright red, marking the degree of his rule. He looked over his left shoulder at Charlotte. Her chest was heaving at the sound of the mob. The chants were loud and had fully consumed her. He pointed his left index and middle fingers toward her and shared another stare with her. This time there was no smirk on his face, only a lowered and focused brow as she desperately tried to control her breathing.
"Justice in the people's name will be done today on your cobbled court!"
He walked over to her- maintaining his eye level with the prisoner. He moved behind her and whispered into her right ear.
"It has been my experience that there is no orgasm that can rival that which one gets from the mob. But, I imagine you may be able to change my experience."
He looked down at her heaving chest and went to her left ear, "Say the words I want to hear and you will see morning. You will be free...to an extent."
He looked directly at her now, smiled, raised his brow and nodded slightly reminding her of the mob. She ran the tip of her tongue over her upper lip. It felt dry although she was soaked in the rain. She bit her lower lip.
"Pray that there is no afterlife, Robespierre. If one does exist, I will be your hell."
Her convulsions had stopped. Or maybe she was far too numb now to determine if she was even breathing.
Robespierre only smiled and nodded for the soldier standing at the far end of the stage, who readily obliged. He unlocked the stocks and walked her to the guillotine, passing a hooded man on the way. She was forcefully spun to face the open space between the guillotine’s scaffolding. She had an unfettered view of the jubilant mob. She was breathing heavily now. Her chest was heaving as if it might explode with any breath she took in. The soldier grabbed her by her hair, forcing her to bow as he placed her neck in a pair of stocks in the guillotine and locked it.
Robespierre nodded to hooded axman.