Fault

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The cold leaps into my mouth and down my throat. It races to my core, burrowing deep in my lungs. It reaches my heart and rattles the beat, disrupting the flow of my hot boiling blood. I release the clamorous demon with a deep exhale through my cracked blue lips; it lingers there for a moment, a delusive beauty, product of ice and my own deluded breath. My neck hurts. I am looking down; I’ve gotten really good at looking down. My stray locks of brown dance in front of my face as I jerk my head to the side attempting to remain balanced. Maybe if I had use of my hands this task would be a little easier. The clouds sweep in, hindering any chance of the sun heating the back of my spine “Good,” I hissed to myself. “I’d rather be numb.”
I try not to make any sharp movements. If I do he will put me in my place so fast that I won’t remember if it hurt or not or so I’m told. I’ve never actually purposefully crossed him before, which is rather ironic given the fact that I am a deranged malice delinquent who is somehow indulged by his own imprisonment, supposedly. Maybe just think I have a bizarre fetish for hot itchy bright orange jumpsuits. Yea that was it. He is my keeper. He wears an armor of solid black with shiny gold tips of metal evenly dispersed. He walks heavy and close, I can smell his milky breath as he smacks his gum causing his mustache move in a mesmerizing circular motion. His keys and spare handcuffs jingle together harmonizing to create a merry tune of captivity and isolation. A tune I have had the “What cha looking at boy,” he snarls inconvenienced by my mere presence. I stare right through him, imagining myself escaping his hard metal death grip. I would elbow him hard in the jaw and kick him to the frozen ground as I calmly reached for his keys. The snow would turn a deep red as a smile spreads across my face. I would walk with my head held evenly back where I belonged. I quickly glance up and then frantically search for the ground, slipping on an ice patch, probably strategically placed. They were all staring. I try to focus on the steady pattern of the path my feet are taking, the only constant. I try counting steps in between cracks but my concentration blends with fears. My thoughts grow thick and a thin layer of moisture clouds my vision as my eyes begin to water. My heart beat increases with each step, her face flashes in my eyes. I glance up again. They shout. Their black beady eyes melt holes through my body; vultures sizing up their prey. I am an animal. I am a piece of meat. I am a monster. “No,” I sturdily rebuff. I am innocent, I whisper. My stomach retaliates with nausea as the words shake and begin to fade. Maybe they were right. I shiver.
We were almost in. The boxy colorless building came into view as I pass by a black SUV with tinted windows blocking off the public entrance. I jump at what caught my eye. The reflection of a man. A mane of grey and black swirled together hiding his eyes. A forehead, eyes, and nose disproportionally arranged lacking definition creating large dark circles and deep wide winkles that spread across his face disappearing into his mouth and reappearing on the other side thicker and overt. His dark elastic skin contrasting with the bright orange cotton illustrated a beatific picture, flawless and overwhelming. He was sad and aged and wore his hardships on his face trying to cover them up with what ever pride still remained. He was a stranger. A lonely soul struggling to stay above the black heavy waves that motioned him forward then back in a tiresome combat of the truth vs. an escape. He was an outsider. He was immutable. He was detached. My stomached dropped. He was me. I shook my head and blinked several times until the frightened, young, more familiar reflection came into view. I touched my firm smooth skin and sighed, I couldn’t stay her much longer, I thought.
I’m ripped from my trance and reminded of the day as sharp pains shoot down my shoulder blades and disconnect my brain from my body. I try adjusting my shoulders but the pain only increases causing my writs to swell and grow red. I press my folded hands down hard and deliberate letting air fill the empty space between the metal and raw skin. A conditioned response. “I wonder if those plastic handcuffs would be any less painful” I think to myself, dizzy with pointless scenarios. I step inside; the stale heat consumes my face hindering my breathing for a split second as I enter the large circular room. Maybe I should love this feeling. My toes curl up in my shoes as I bump the thought to the back of my mind. My keeper motions me to sit in the hard wooden chair. The camera lights flicker and flash catching the corners of my eyes as I lift the orange collar up as a shield. The large burgundy double doors burst open as my lawyer arrives. His name was Mick and he wanted to help me now, actually he was full of it, all he wanted was my money and I’m almost certain he didn’t believe me. I knew his type, he represented every last one of those cheesy attorney advertisements. I turned to greet him but was distracted by the masses of bodies that filled the room wall to wall. There was no line separating sides and I wondered if that even mattered. Was anyone on my side anymore?” Mick dawdles over and throws his expensive brief case down in a fuss. The slam evokes my memories as they come to life.

A knock at the door, I jump. I see my soon be my keeper distorted through the glass door. I open the door to a gust of wind as the policemen bulge inside.
“Mr. O’Neil,” he announces. “You are under arrest for the murder of Venna McCoy” He places the cold metal handcuffs on tight, like my hands would never again be free. I look at my mom and faint. He was right.
My mind flushed back to the courtroom.

The judge waddles in; she’s wearing her black cloak of disappointment, she cracks her gavel hard and fast as everyone settles in their seats. “Will the members of the jury please rise and present their verdict. I’m sitting here emotionless, the shell of a once happy, successful, fulfilled teenager. The boy I once was to the monster I had more readily become. I begin to cry. The tears flow heavy and easily down my face accumulating in my beard. I glance up.

It’s time. The head juror drones forward and sea of people grow silent. I shift uneasy in my chair and stare at each of the twelve people sitting anxiously in a row. They sit here with my life in their hands, just twelve strangers passively fulfilling their civic duty. They looked nervous. I wondered if any of them had a family. I dance around the thought I had been avoiding for the past hour. Right about now I guess they would expect me to throw myself on my knees and yell to the world, “I didn’t do it!” But I just don’t see the point, it can’t change anything. I suck in air and watch the juror continue on his path to condemnation. His eyebrows furrow in concentration as hands the thin piece of paper to the bailiff. My stomach knots up and I loose feeling in my legs Everything muted and all I could see where lips. That single piece of paper has says whether I did it or not. The judge’s lips begin to move as I pull myself back.

“Guilty,” The word echoes through the courtroom and slides back into my ears. My heart falls and the crowd cheers. The state of Connecticut sentences Mr. Greg O’Neil to life in prison without parole.
Life. The word swarms my face and I can’t breath. I feel my mom slide her warm hand on my shoulder as she begins to shake with tears.





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