Ronan is not pleased with the revolutionary crew he sets himself with.
Some provincial lawyers, he thought. How their waistcoat and silken cravats beamed under the sun like some satirical wonder, the air surrounds them, suffocating him.
“Olympe,” he says, tone tragically feigning to a childish whine, “I hate these people sometimes.”
She giggles then, and kisses his head, “C’mere, Ronan.”
“What? You have to admit that they are just a bunch of self-righteous lawyers that pretend to know a thing for the starving people—“
She takes his hand, rubbing calming circles with her thumb, “Really.”
She rolls her eyes, “Ronan, you know I can’t be here for long. So can we please talk about anything else except your noble revolutionaries and your mighty ideals?”
“You don’t understand, Olympe,” he says, ruffling his already battled hair, “they had never known hardships — how they can be the leaders of something they never even lived through? They aren’t commoners, Olympe. They don’t benefit anything, but they won’t gain anymore for the current revolutionary wave just as well. They are foreigners to our cause, he says, “some jesters who claim to know how to play kings.”
“We all witnessed it,” she says, barely a whisper, “you’ll have to give them a chance, Ronan.”
He huffed, tries and thinks about Desmoulins’ grin, Robespierre’s black curls and impeccable coiffure and Danton’s hand on his sister’s waist, her slender arm around his. To prove what? That they are good enough?
That I am good enough?
“I don’t know,” he begins, but Olympe is already asleep in his arms, her lashes fluttering with each steady breath.
In a heartbeat, he remembers that she is wearing silk as well. Only that moonlight has hide the shape of it.
Isolation, really, isn’t much pain compared to hunger.
Bread, Ronan screams, water. There is something human about this, because animals never need to be hungry to yell about food. Some scraps of skin would be enough for him.
And in a moment of complete disillusionment, he thinks he sees the future of France through the window of the prison, shining, burning bright.
“Enough, Ronan,” Danton says, looking at him straight in the eye, face rigid, “and you, Camille. Just apologize. What are you all, some scrappy children?”
Robespierre is crossing his arms, his red coat framing the black breeches. He is looking, but his eyes are drifting away, reaching some conclusion to an abstract conception he himself invented. Ronan growls.
“What,” he spits, “are you going to burst into songs? Que ça ira?” He cried, eyes finding Robespierre’s. His damned clear eyes. “Are you done observing, monsieur De Robespierre? Analyzing my weaknesses?”
The man shrugs, unaffected, “Maybe,” he says. “You are revealing way too much about yourself anyway. It won’t take long before I take your identity and marry your friends.”
Camille didn’t let him start another counter-attack, “Hey, that is enough! I apologize, how about that? There is work to be done!” He skitters across the scene, blocking his view to Robespierre. Camille’s eyes are sharp and every lines around his lids make the face of an angry man. He wonders, for a moment, how it would look like covered with blood.
Good enough, probably. People would hung his picture in their room, and they would sigh every they look at it, saying, here is a good man, here is a good man.
Ronan shakes his head once, and tries to make his aggression disappear after one forced gesture of his body. They shake hands. He caught Robespierre wincing.
He saw Danton adjusting his cravat to make it looser. He thinks about his sister, and Camille winces too, and shakes his hand away as if he is brunt.
How can they start a revolution? They can barely start to care about their life, how can they incarcerate revolutionary movement if they can not live forever?
But they are good men, he reminds himself, they are good men.
And here’s how revolutions always start: good men asks time to grant them the past, where a golden age blooms in its rise.
And here’s how revolutions always end: good men asks time to grant them the future, where a golden path awaits them, like some new gold age, waiting to bloom.
His sister defends herself, saying that her job— occupation is justified —normal. She would shudder after every explanation, yet held her head higher after every word.
It was night when he finds her going upstairs to a dirty little house. A hand is on her shoulder, bigger than Danton’s.
Ronan stayed until he starts to vomit when the moans and gasps were heard through the door.
Grant me Liberty or give me Death, he recites in his heart, because ah, ah, ah. The liberty to kill would too sweet to be granted right now.
An excerpt from a unknown journal:
The Queene is found the night, having intimate exchanges with a man. From the witness, he wore that night a yellow petticoat, white breeches, etc. Comte D’Artois proclaimed—
The rest is crossed, and never published. Ronan never got a chance to read it, disappointingly so.
“My skin,” he says, gesturing. “Should I pain it green?”
Camille hums, fiddling with his leave, “Unless if you want to start a revolution, don’t.”
Ronan prides himself with excellent self-control not to call him a liar, “Why is green the symbol of liberty?”
“Nature,” Camille exclaims, looking down at his hands as if amazed with himself. “Passion.”
“Also,” he smiles, holding the leave up to his face. The oval shape looks like a blade. “When you are on you knees, there’s only the ground.”
Ronan rolls his eyes. “We are not clay. We are modeled to look down at.”
Camille shrugs and eyes Robespierre, who is looking outside the window. There are women’s whispers in the streets. The clattering of weapons. “I guess not,” Camille says, “we are way more easy to break.”
He hears someone laugh. Danton is grinning beside Robespierre. The other remains placid, though a smile braces his lips, and softly, gently, France breaks into pieces of clay, uneven pieces. He can feel the scraps of skin and the blood.
At the Bastille, here is how it is supposed to end:
The triumph of a nation. A man’s death. The King is dead.
Here is how it ends:
The triumph of a nation. A man’s death. Long live the King.