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His lips move back and forth, as pink and luscious as I recall, as He pleads his case, determined to talk his way out of trouble, as I remember he always does. This time, though, He cannot win –if I let him defeat me, again, it really will all end.
I catch His eye over the pedestal he stands behind, and, though he averts his gaze after a mere second, I can feel the burning rage of anger His stare contains.
“. . . Just wants attention!” He is saying now, the lies spewing out of his mouth as if he’s rehearsed them endlessly, which I don’t doubt.
“She probably gave herself those bruises, just to set me up!”
He is yelling now, his voice echoing around in the vast room, slithering in and out of the rows that continue on and on to the back of the room.
“Now, why would she do that?” the judge asks calmly, seemingly unaffected by the urgency in His voice; the desperation.
“I don’t know,” He scoffs, shrugging as if He couldn’t care less, “She’s insane! Who knows what could’ve been going on in her mind?”
My eyes dart nervously from my mother, who sits in the corner silently, wiping at her eyes daintily with a tissue, to Him, as he stands tall, with all of his interminable power. I tell myself that He is not that strong – I have nothing to be afraid of – but I can’t seem to convince myself, maybe because I know for a fact that it is not true. I have everything to be afraid of.
I can hear the clock ticking away from where it is planted into the wall, above the judge’s desk. It’s one of those really old fashion clocks, with the roman numerals, those ones that are always a pain to read. The little hand moves slowly, slowly, and I urge it to go faster but, just as expected, it continues at the steady pace it is used to, not daring to take the risk of moving ahead any faster.
When I was little, back when my mother and I were close, and actually communicated in the least, she would tell me this story, every night before I went to bed. She said that it’d make the day come quicker, – I’d always hated nights, they seemed so depressing and gloomy – and that it’d make the sun rise faster.
“There once was a little boy,” is how the story began, night after night, always the same. “You can pick a name for him; whatever name you decide is perfect. So, this little boy, he had a wonderful family. He was wealthy and loved, had a beautiful home – everything you could ask for. But, he wasn’t exactly grateful, to say the least. He was your age,” she would tell me, “seven. You see, when his eighth birthday came along, his daddy bought him a great grandfather clock. The young boy,” she’d continue, “had been hoping for the latest toy, but instead received this ancient clock he figured had no use.”
“After throwing a huge temper tantrum, and yelling at his daddy about how much he hated him, he stomped up to his room. He fell asleep. But when he awoke the next morning, he was not in the expensive, designer bed he usually was. Instead, he lie on the floor, a thin blanket the only thing keeping him the least bit warm, with the chilly air floating around him. When he went downstairs for breakfast, instead of finding an extravagant feast, as he usually did, he was greeted with a single piece of toast, plain and unbuttered.
“As he travelled from room to room, he soon realized that everything materialistic had been taken away from him, him being barely left with what he truly needed. And, the only thing that was the least bit interesting was, of course, the beautiful grandfather clock he had so easily dismissed the night before. The clock, sitting there in the room that used to be his living room, though was now merely a room with a window, never looked so good.”
I’d never really gotten the moral of the story, though, for whatever reason, I loved when my mother told it to me, over and over again, even if it was the same every time, and I knew exactly what was coming.
His loud voice jolts me out of the memory of which I wish I could stay trapped in forever, as he rants on and on about this and that.
“Can you explain her broken arm?” the judge asks, interrupting Him.
“No,” he laughs bitterly, “Though I bet she threw herself off a building to get it, just to have solid proof.”
“You know, Mr. Jensen,” the judge says, tilting her head to the side, “I’ve heard a lot from you – more than I would like – but yet, not one single word from Miss Parks. Why do you think that is?”
He looks panicked for a split second, as though it is just occurring to him now, that he may not be the winner this time around, but he composes himself so quickly, you wonder if it even happened in the first place.
“She’s always been quiet,” He recalls, “She obviously has nothing to say,” he says, looking in my direction, as if not reporting, but demanding this.
“Actually,” judge says, “I’d like to hear that for myself. Miss Parks,” she decides with finality, “Is there anything – anything at all – you’d like to say?”
I fidget my hands in my lap nervously, picking at a nail that is torn apart, dead skin the only thing left, a dead end at every turn.
“Yes,” I’d say, if only I could find the courage, “I’d like to say something. I’d like to say a lot, actually. The day I first met him, I’d just had a fight with my mother, and I wasn’t in the best mood. Him, though, with his quirky grin and amused eyes, took all the pain away, replacing it with the feeling of . . . right. After that day, I never saw him again for two weeks – the worst two weeks of my life – until I met him outside of the ice cream shop. The details, they don’t even matter – the point is, he treated me like I was a treasure. Rare, worth so much, irreplaceable. I thought He loved me. A small part of me still does. But then the first slap came, and a part of me disappeared. The punches, kicks, harmful words– some hurt more than others, though they were one and the same. And there was one time He choked me. By then, I was done. Every punch or kick or pinch or slap after then was nothing – I didn’t care anymore. But now? Now I care. And I won’t stop until he feels what it’s like to be helpless; to feel what it’s like to be me.”
I wish I could find the courage, the power, to speak these words, but instead I keep quiet, shaking my head back and forth, back and forth, no, no, no, I have nothing to say.
I nod now, yes, yes, yes, I’m positive.
“If that is all,” the judge declares, sighing, “the fingers are pointing towards Miss Parks here. False accusation – could get you on probation, Miss Parks. That’s all we have to say?” she asks once again.
In slow motion, she lifts her arm into the air, and, just before she bangs the gavel on the hard wood, finalizing my fate with a simple tap, I clear my throat.
You have to do this. You have to do this. He can’t win. You’re stronger than Him.
All heads turn my way, including Him, who is looking murderous.
Surprising him, and even shocking myself, I take a deep breath, and . . . speak.