Dead Man Walking
By Georgia Willis
Dead Man WalkingI shuffled my feet slowly on the dirt path, bound in the chains of my captors there was little else I could do. The ragged clothes they had gratefully left me clung to me covered in grim and filth, the only protection against the suns harsh rays. A gaping hole in the back of my shirt showed the mark for which I was despised. A birthmark, nothing more, a small splotch of brown on my almost snow white skin, no larger than a baby’s hand print. We were headed to the city, and as we grew closer I was lucky enough to so the horrified and disdainful expressions of the people who otherwise should have been mine. My people, that’s who was doing this. My parents from the moment I was born had told me to keep the mark covered, never show anyone they said. Never. My people prided themselves on perfection, perfect white skin, golden blonde hair and pale blue eyes. No deviation. No imperfections. Those that were found as children to not conform to societies idea of perfection were sold as slave or strangled in the crib. This was the ideology I had grown up with, and I had battled everyday of my life knowing that I was not truly perfect, not truly worthy of being in this society. But I loved my parents. So all through school, through my youth I stayed silent, not wanting to watch the grief in their eyes.
We entered the gates of the city, my bleeding and blistered feet grateful for the cool cobblestone shaded by the great gates. The guards spoke to one another sneering at me. One spat in my face. This I had become accustom to, as the guards walked me through every village they could find, showing my mark, showing me for the monster I was. The guard, unhappy at my lack of reaction as his spit trailed down my cheek, backhanded me across the face. His gauntleted hand tearing open the delicate skin of my cheek. I went down in a tangled heap; the chains not letting me catch myself. I landed with a jangled thud hissing at the pain in my cheek and side, the guard laughed happily. Another guard yanked me to my feet, the chains cutting into my already bruised and swollen wrists. Then we began walking once more.
They walked me through every part of the city, weaving slowly back and forth as people slowly gathered around me. Verbal insults held little meaning to me, the rotten fruit that was thrown smelled no worse than I did. I shuffled along as the people I had grown up with, the people I had trusted, laughed with, lived with, my entire life, turned on me with such outright hatred that tears were finally brought to my eyes. I had hoped, hoped in vain that perhaps these people who knew me would be on my side, perhaps even help me. But as I watched the crowd around me turn into a rabid mass of hungry faces, I knew that hope was the last thing I should have had. The guards walked me into the city centre, a giant square with a permanent set of gallows. The houses and shops that surrounded the square had been modified so that temporary seating and viewing platforms could be easily accessed for these such festivities.
A magistrate in his long black robes stood holding a noose. The guards walked me to him and threw me to my knees. The magistrate with his cruel perfect eyes looked at me just as hungry as the crowed that had followed me around the city. He hushed the jeering mob with a hand, and began reciting from heart the laws of the land. Tears poured freely down my face as I knelt there listening to the man about to proclaim my death as the only solution to my crime. I remembered growing up my parents trying to keep me from these shows, but my attendance was inevitable. The rabid crowd was so persuasive; even though I knew I was marked, I remembered spitting and calling for the person’s death along with everyone else.
I was hauled up onto the platform and the noose secured firmly around my throat. The mob starred in anticipation, waiting to see the light fly from my eyes as my body jerked helplessly. In one of the stands directly in front of me stood the woman who had turned me in, who I thought loved me, the woman who bore my child, and now thought me a monster. Tears flowed faster as I saw the hatred lit in her eyes, like she would pull the lever herself. I said a quick prayer as the magistrate’s hand gripped the lever tightly a maniacal grin leered on his face. I looked at the woman I loved, and prayed, prayed to every god imaginable that my child would be perfect, that no marks would mar their skin. For now, I realized, moments before my death, that this murderous society that I had grown up in, conformed to, who saw monsters in difference, in imperfection, were in fact the monsters. And as I paid for my sins, for my role in this horrendous society, I prayed they would too.