Heather had attempted to write several essays during the last seven days, on whether there would be an after-life, on why the state needed a whole ritual to kill someone, and on several more topics. But she did finish none of those essays. Too much topics, too less concentration.
But the most important question the condemned woman had, when would she be executed? She had yet to be informed of the date of her death. And slowly Heather started to doubt whether she would be informed of the date at all.
Then the door of her cell was opened, and the federal prosecutor stepped into her cell.
“And when will I be killed?” And to her surprise the man answered: “I don’t know. The federal office has yet to announce the date.”
Heather looked confused at the man she hold responsible for her death. “If you don’t know when I will die, why are you visiting me?” “Yesterday night, your mother had an audience with the federal president.”
“My mother?” the condemned woman shouted with great anger. “That egocentric bitch has never looked after me. Was she begging our head of state to execute me as soon as possible?”
The man took a deep breath, and said: “No, she did not.” “Then why has she an audience with the president?” “To ask for clemency.” “No, that’s impossible, my mother is an evil woman, she hates me. She will be glad when I have died.”
“You have been raised in an orphanage, haven’t you?” “Yes, I have.” “When was the last time you have seen your mother?” “At age fifteen. But that had been an accident.” “And how did you know it was your mother?” “I recognized her from the picture in my dossier,” said Heather reluctantly.
“But that meeting, which was in a mall, was not a success. That bitch tried to ignore me, and when I confronted her, she confessed to being my mother. However, immediately thereafter she managed to disappear.”
The federal prosecutor looked at the floor and hesitating he said:
“Apparently, she has remorse and she feels that she is culpable for your crimes.” “No, that’s impossible,” countered the condemned angrily. “My mother has no sense for responsibility nor has she any ability to feel anything. Regret is something she does not understand.”
Heather suddenly felt silent. She was thinking about her mother’s strange behaviour, but she refuses to believe that her mother had a change of heart. It just did not fit in her image of a cold and unloving woman. Ever since she remembered, Heather has hated her mother because she believed her mother hated her.
The idea that her mother felt no hatred for her, was too inconvenient, too discomforting for her.
The last few days Heather spent with contemplating the strange behaviour of her mother. She concluded that the only reason her mother could oppose her execution was that if she would die, her mother would be unable to hate her. Believing that her mother was addicted to hate, Heather deduced that her mother would be unable to live without the object of her hate being alive.
The twenty-five year old had never known her father, he had been a foreigner and had impregnated her mother abroad, hence his DNA was not listed in the federal database. It had not been before her mother had returned to Elysia that she discovered her pregnancy. Heather’s mother immediately had the unborn removed from her body. Subsequently the fetus was, as required by law, put in an artificial uterus.
After her “birth” she was placed in an orphanage. Normally children like were placed in foster families, but there was no place for her. So she grow up in the orphanage, which she had to leave at age sixteen. Shortly thereafter she found a job in a hardware store.
Given this history it was surprising that Heather’s mother cared about the fate of her daughter, and Heather did not believe that it was for her benefit.
Heather had not yet received the date of her execution, and she was well aware that tomorrow could be her last day among the living. Anxious she was walking in her cell.
In her thoughts she had been executed time after time. Heather prepared her death by imaging how her execution would be carried out. And she repeated this exercise, as she had nothing else on her mind.
Before she went to bed, she took a deep breath and thought: Let my death be quick.
Heather had been convinced that she would be executed at the first instance that would be allowed. She spent the whole day, thinking that at any moment the guards would take her to the execution chamber. But no guards were coming to bring her to her final destination that day.
Heather was not executed that day either.
Again Heather remained in her cell at death row.
Heather got angry that she had not yet received a death warrant by this date.
She spent a great part of her day by bouncing at the door of her cell and screaming when she would be executed.
Heather lay the entire day on her bed, completely spiritless.
The condemned had accepted that she would die the next day. Therefore she decided to enjoy her last day as much as possible. She wrote a short note in which Heather stated that she accepted to die for her crimes and it she was regretful over what she had done.
Finally the last day of her life had come, Heather though when she woke up. She remained in bed, waiting for the guards. For hours she had been listening in silence, whether the guards were coming. But nothing happened.
After five hours Heather finally stood up. From the sink she took a glass of water, and though she had a few crackers, the woman saw no need to take breakfast. After all she would be dead in a few hours.
The next hours she was sitting at her bed, while waiting for the guards. Tired she felt asleep and she dreamed that the guards had taken her to the death chamber. She was already bound on the chair, when she woke up and realized that she was still alive.
To her surprise Heather saw that was already afternoon. Though it was the tradition to execute people at dawn, it was no hard law. The current protocol had been established by executive order two hundred and seventy-five years ago and by executive order it could be changed.
Since Heather did not receive the federal bulletins, she could only guess about the protocol. No other way was at her disposal to know what happened outside her tiny universe, which was her cell.
Night felt while Heather was still breathing. Only six hours were left, she thought. Before midnight the federal government would take her life and coming to terms with her inevitable demise, was the only thing she could do.
She was laying again at bed and stared to the ceiling. But again she felt asleep, a dreamless one this time.
After a long sleep Heather woke up, and she discovered that the last day had passed. The condemned woman realized that it was now against the law to execute her.
Her attorney had explained that if a person condemned to death is not executed within thirty-five days, the death sentence is automatically commuted to life imprisonment. Which meant that she had to stay in prison for at least fifteen years before she would be allowed to apply for parole.
Why the government had failed to execute her before the deadline, which was by the way a very ironic term in this context, wondered Heather. Had the president been persuaded by her mother’s plea for clemency? This thought horrified her, as it would imply that she owed her life to her mother. Or was, on a more pleasant note, the president a coward?
There were not many death sentences, and even less executions in Elysia. The last time one had been executed had been a few years earlier. The current president was not in office at the time, so her execution would his first. Maybe he did not dare to issue a death warrant, knowing he would be responsible for one’s demise.
While Heather was eating a cracker, the door of her cell was opened. A guard stepped into her cell and said:
“Heather, it’s time to go.”
The woman nodded and she stood up and followed the guard. Though no-one had told her, she knew where was she going to, as there was only one place in Elysia for people like her. The Auguste Comte prison was the place, where she would serve her life sentence.