I have been sitting here for hours playing game after game. I stare at the ivory chess set laid out in front of me, contemplating my next move. I move a pawn two squares forward before turning the board around and moving a white bishop to take an opposing pawn.

Playing against one’s self is not very amusing, but no one else truly understood the game, no one challenged my mind.  My choices, my decisions mattered; everyone else’s were just the whims of children. The dearly departed Queen tried to play, tried to matter but she underestimated me. She removed a few little people, but the King’s affections are quickly won and quickly lost. And so Anne Boleyn lost her head and the King already had a new Queen. A meek, little, chaste thing, easy to manipulate and far more palatable than her predecessor.

The King and Queen are said to be the most important pieces in chess but they aren’t special, not really. There are more out there, more games to play, more little Kings and Queens. The pawns aren’t special either – useful, yes, but not special. They serve a purpose to be moved around, to play the game and to be disposed of when they are no longer necessary. Many men and women of the court had thought they were playing the game, thought that they were the chess master, when in fact they were little more than pawns. I, Thomas Cromwell, am the only true player. Now, what will be my next move, I thought, while staring down at the white ivory King on the board in front of me.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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