By Nell Gavin
Published by Infinity
December 2001; 0-741-40916-X; 391 pages
I could not see the crowd any longer. Were it not for the sound of an occasional involuntary cough, I might have thought myself alone and dreaming. In the midst of this unnatural stillness, I could sense the thousands of unsympathetic eyes I knew were fixed upon me. I could neither hide from them, nor could I stop myself from visualizing the faces and the stares.
A voice with a heavy French accent shouted: "Where is my sword?"
Then, in one instant, a hand reached for mine, and a voice gently said "Come," and I followed. Disoriented yet aware, I looked down and saw the crowd, its taste for blood satisfied by the day's entertainment. I thought, "Wait," and saw Henry in my mind and in a flash I was with him for one last moment. He was mounted for the hunt, surrounded by huntsmen and hounds, awaiting the sound of gunshots that would announce my passing. They rang out as I watched and he inwardly flinched, outwardly revealing no emotion at all. He would now race to Jane, would make her his wife in only 10 days' time, and would never speak my name aloud again.
I looked at him and thought, "Why?" like a wail, a keening, and could see he was disturbed, though determined not to be. Denying.
I knew he could sense me. It was in his thoughts, and I could read them as if they were spoken aloud. He was agitated and fearful. "Damn you, Henry," I thought. He heard me in his mind, and thought he was mad.
Then I turned away from him one final time and floated toward the light and toward memory. Like a rustling, I felt him reach toward me then catch himself. Like a whisper, I heard him say to me, "Damn you," but the words were not spoken except in his thoughts, and they carried no conviction in the face of his anxiety.
I sensed there were tears, but his face was stone and tears would not be shed. He would restrain them and hold them within like a cancer, and they would change him and the lives he touched from this day forward. He would never face what he had done. He would do it again and again as if to trivialize the sin. By feeling less next time he could prove it was not sin, for did he not feel righteous? If it were not right, would he not feel shame?
I know this because I know how Henry could twist logic to suit his ends. He could speak for God Himself, he believed, based solely on what he knew to be truth within his heart. He was my husband and I know him to his soul. He was often mistaken.
And so, many more lives would be lost by his decree. It would torment him till the end and he would be guilty, defiant, dictatorial, irrational and dangerous, never realizing that much of it was the denial of grief and conscience. It would be a sad end for a man who, oddly, wanted very much to be a good one.
With concern that was habit more than heartfelt, I absently thought, "He should cry," then left him.
Good-bye.Copyright © 2001 Nell Gavin
Reprinted with permission. (back to top)
It's 1970. Anne and Henry still have issues they need to address. It's been 434 years since they parted - on bad terms - and they haven't spoken since. Henry now has problems with alcohol, drugs and irresponsibility, and Anne is still holding onto a grudge.
Threads, a reincarnation fantasy, opens with Anne's death in 1536. Her husband Henry, seemingly in defense of Anne (but more likely acting out of "stubborn perverseness," she observes), has terrorized England and decreed murder after political murder to protect her. Ultimately, to Anne's horror, he made the decision to have her executed as well.
Anne's fury at her husbands betrayal has enough momentum to survive centuries, but in Threads she learns that she has been assigned a hard task: she must forgive him. This may prove difficult and take some time. The husband in question is Henry VIII. The narrator is the stubborn, volatile Anne Boleyn, who is not at all inclined to forgive.
It is a very unusual love story.
Amazon readers rating: from 6 reviews
Nell Gavin is originally from Chicago, and now lives with her husband and two children in Texas. In addition to freelance writing, Nell is a registered volunteer with Netaid.org and is currently writing educational literature for the AIDS awareness effort in Tanzania, Africa. Threads, her first novel, won the 2000 William Faulkner Competition finalist for best novel.