Validity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   How am I to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help me God when I'm not even sure there is a truth, and I don't believe in God? The lawyers stand before me wearing stiffly starched shirts and ask questions. If they don't like my answers, the question becomes "Could you be more specific?" They tell me to try to remember. All these lawyers want to do is win the case - justice can go to hell.

I don't even know what the truth is; all I know is what I saw. I'm the only witness. As questions float around the room, all I can think about is the water pitcher within reach. My tongue feels kind of dry; I'd really like a drink.

"Stay with me, Anita, and answer the questions," says the prosecutor.

"Yes, sir," I reply.

I look around to try and discover where they have hidden the glasses; I can't find any. The voices pull me back into the courtroom, onto the hard chair with the straight back. I'm not going to get out of here until I tell them what I know.

"It ... it was dark outside, so it was hard to see clearly. I was walking home when all of a sudden I heard something hit the ground not too far away. I went over to the trash cans that were lined up against the side of a brownstone because that's where I thought I heard the noise, but at first I didn't see anything. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a little girl - no older than two - lying at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the brownstone. She wasn't moving - I thought she was dead. I ran to the nearest pay phone and dialed 911. I told them that I found a dead baby girl on the Lower East Side. I don't know how she died, that I did not see."

This isn't my trial. When do I get to leave? It's 2:30, I can feel my stomach churning in desperate hunger.

"On what day and at what time did this event take place?"

"Around ten o'clock, I think ... I'm not really sure."

"Thank you, you may step down."

If only I had left the office a little earlier that day - then I wouldn't have seen a thing. I'm glad I'm going home soon, I need to remember to buy corn and rice. I think I'll just whip up yesterday's leftovers for dinner.

I feel sorry for that defense lawyer. Look at him, old and tired. I don't think I helped him by telling him what I saw. This little girl had golden hair twisted into pigtails. Little pink ribbons on either side of her dainty head. She looked like she was asleep. I couldn't tell the color of her eyes because they were shut tight. I was too afraid to touch her, but it looked to me as if she had stopped breathing. A little doll lying broken on the sidewalk.

"A cold-blooded murder. Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence has been laid out before you, let justice be served. A child brutally murdered by her own mother. A little girl was pushed out the window. How could a mother commit such a crime? It is unthinkable, but true," exclaims the prosecutor.

Oh my God! That's just horrible - a mother actually threw her own child out the window? Like a piece of garbage? I don't understand.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please understand Mrs. Bleacher was not in her right mind ... " states the defense lawyer.

I missed the beginning of the trial because they make the witnesses wait out in the hall until they are called into the courtroom. The jury has now gone out of the room to make their decision. It's almost over. I can't take this much longer. I wonder what time the grocery store closes.

Here they come in a straight line, the tin soldiers with the verdict in the hands of the general. It is passed over to the judge. He reads it and hands it back to the jury foreman to announce ...

"Anita Bleacher is sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Alisha Bleacher ..."

His lips are moving, but I'm no longer able to hear what the foreman is saying. Everyone is looking at me; they think I did it. They don't realize that the little girl was not mine. Alisha had made a mess on the kitchen floor and left it for me to clean up. I had been cleaning the kitchen floor all day. How dare she mess up my floor. My own little girl would have known better. Where are they taking me? I'm only a witness; this isn't even my trial. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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