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Manslaughter



Okay, I admit I was furious with him. We’d been dating for five months. He cheated on me with my best friend. I haven't spoken to Lily since it happened. I know she blames me for his death, just like the others. My own Mother couldn’t even see the pleading truth in my eyes.
This juvenile detention center was going to suck. Is this really what my mother paid taxes for? A dilapidated building full of freaks and lesbians?
The uniformed guard towered over me. He gripped my arm even harder. I whimpered, and he loosened his grip. I had arrived here minutes earlier, after being officially arrested. My trial is supposedly being held in two weeks. I didn't know if I'd survive till then.
"Okay, Victoria, " a short stocky woman said tossing me a handful of clothes. I looked at the guard, then back at the clothes. He took the hint and turned his head away from me. I pulled my sweatshirt off and replaced it with the stiff, cotton shirt. The course blue fabric hung off my body, dead and lifeless. The woman admired the button-up shirt and baggy pants. "You got a cute figure there, girl. Shame I don't have any smaller sizes that'd fit you better."
"S'okay," I mumbled, my eyes locked on the cement floor.
The guard led me down a dimly lit hallway. Rows of cells lined the wall. Everything was different shades of grey. The girls were burly and broad. Their freakishly large fingers clung to the bars that were locking them in. I shuddered. A large tough looking girl stuck her tongue out at me in a sexual manner. Another gave me the finger. These chicks could sense my fear. I was no match for them. I was much thinner and smaller.
The guard stopped at the end of the hall. He unlocked the metal door and pushed it open with a grunt. I stepped inside, and the door slammed shut with a metallic clang. A pile of laundry on the floor and a few tattered posters hung off the scuffed wall. I sat down on one of the thin, stiff beds. The sheets were like sandpaper. Across the room, a girl with dreads peered over the top bunk. Her brown eyes studied me, slowly moving down from my head to my feet. Could she see how scared I was? She shrugged and turned back around in her bed. She seemed to approve of me. I laid on my back and stared at a torn Lady Gaga poster on the tile ceiling.
"Hey," a second girl hissed from the bottom bunk. She sat up and leaned towards me. Her stringy blue hair fell just below her shoulders. She was a skinny little twig. I was sure with a little makeup and a haircut she wouldn’t look that bad.
"What did you do to get sent to this sh*thole?" She asked curiously.
"I was accused of pushing my boyfriend’s wheelchair in front of a truck."
The girl adjusted her nose ring. “I’m Lindsay. I stole a car and hit a guy crossing the street.”
“Did you kill him?” I asked, sitting up and leaning against the wall.
“No. I’m not a damn murderer.” She twirled her blue hair around her finger.
"She is," the first girl said pointing across the hall at a cell. The girl she was pointing at growled and retreated back to her corner of the cell. I rolled over and cried softly into my hands.

*


*


*

"Hello Victoria. I'll be your counselor until the trial." A man, who looked like a dinosaur, said. He held the door open for me to enter his office. His nose stuck out like a bird's beak. His beady little eyes and the way he pecked at his salad reminded me of the chickens back home. He motioned for me to sit down on the worn leather couch. I obeyed. He began talking about my family, and life. I let my mind wander from his senseless babble.
The memories flooded my mind, causing me to tear up. I was behind Jason, pushing his wheelchair down the sidewalk. His floppy dark hair brushed against my fingers. I leaned over and gave him a kiss. "I love you," I smiled. He took my hand, and I saw the pained look on his face.
"Vic, we need to talk. There's something I need to tell you. I've been spending more time with Lily," He started to say. I remember that feeling of humiliation, the rage that boiled up inside.They had both betrayed me.
"Victoria, are you listening?" The counselor frowned. I shook my head. "I said there was a witness. He believed that you had in fact pushed Jason’s chair. There's no use lying about what happened."
I was shocked. This guy’s got it all wrong. He didn't even give me a chance to explain. He just assumed I was guilty.
"I didn't do it," I pleaded. He gave me a disapproving look.
"I understand that you had just found out he was cheating on you. By lying to yourself, you think that it helps you to cope with reality, but our goal here is to help you accept reality as it really is.”
I stared in disbelief. "No! I didn't push his chair! That whole thing was an accident! An accident!" I shrieked. “I want to go home, I’m innocent!”
"Alright, I believe we should take a break." He motioned for the guard in the hallway to take me back to my cell.

"So how'd it go?" Lindsay asked, the cell door slamming shut behind me. I winced at the clang it made. It reminded me of how imprisoned I was.
"That d*ck counselor accused me of killing my boyfriend!"
Lindsay rested her head on her arm. "Yeah, the guys in charge here are real twisted. They think every damn kid is a criminal."
I nodded in agreement.
"They'll screw with your mind," the girl on the top bunk said.
I could feel the tears coming. I rolled over and buried my face in the musty smelling pillow.

*


*


*

The next week were filled with visits to my idiot counselor and the other girls pushing me around. Surprisingly, I was handling this juvenile detention center well. I had a few visits with Mom. She assured me that I'd be getting out soon, but the stressed look on her face said otherwise.
"The sorry bastards running this place could at least give us some decent food," I said, placing my tray next to Lindsay. This girl had become my closest friend here. I felt I could trust her. She made this sh*tty place just a bit more bearable.
"I know what you mean," She took a bite out of an apple. "You’re too innocent to kill someone.” Lindsay tossed her apple up in the air, and caught it behind her back. I studied my pizza, trying to decide if it was worth eating.
“So what ever did happen between you and your boyfriend?” she asked. I took a deep breath and told her the whole story.

*


*


*


I was nervous. My trial was coming up. I knew my future wasn’t looking good. My lawyer said that I should plead innocent, which I was planning to do. The guard opened the door to the counselor’s office. He was sitting behind his tall, wooden desk. McDonald’s wrappers were strewn across his lap. “Seems you’ve had a breakthrough,” the wrinkly old counselor said, peering over his clipboard. “I understand that you’ve confessed.”
So many horrific thoughts were running through my head. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. “What the hell? A confession? I never confessed! I don’t even have anything to confess to!”
“It’s alright Victoria, we have specialists here that can help you. You’re ready to take the next step ”
I was stunned. If he tells the judge all of this bullsh*t, I’ll be charged with killing Jason for sure.

*


*


*


Guilty. I was found guilty. A tear slid down my cheek. Deep down I knew that would be the verdict, but I didn’t want to believe it. It was still sinking in. My lawyer said that the therapist’s bullsh*t confession was the final nail in my coffin. I’d have one more year here in juvie, than seven years in state prison. It would be eight years until I was free. I couldn’t imagine another day in this horrible place, let alone state prison. I was now branded a criminal at just seventeen years old-- a title I would have for the rest of my life.

I saw Lindsay’s face light up when she saw me coming down the hall. “Were you found guilty?” she asked eagerly, her face pressed against the cell bars. I nodded slowly. The guard grunted and said “Lindsay? Looks like you’re getting out next week.”
“But you still have six months to go?” I asked. She wasn’t supposed to get out till Spring. This girl that I’ve confided in, trusted, was now looking at me with a strange trance-like candor to her face.
“But since I told them your confession, I’m getting out early.” She grinned and leaned against the bed. “You see little girlie, the only way to survive here is to play dirty.”
She played me. She knew what she was doing all along. I snapped. Pure anger rose up inside me, taking over my body. “I didn’t kill him!” I shrieked. “You know I didn’t!”
“Sure you didn’t.” She rolled her eyes. I didn’t care anymore. This b**** was responsible for my verdict. I jumped at her throat, grabbing a fistful of neon blue hair.
“Stop!” the guard yelled, struggling to unlock the door.
“B****, get off!” Lindsay rolled on top of me, pinning me down. I was too quick for her. I kicked her jaw hard, and pushed her off. Her head banged against the metal corner of the bed, piercing her the back of her skull. She fell lifeless as blood drained from her mouth. It took a moment to sink in. I was still breathing heavily. Everything was blurry and my ears rang. My tensed body slammed against the cold floor when the guard tackled me. My mouth moved but no sound came out. All my rage, from Jason, from Lily, and now from Lindsay, had been released through my fists. I came here accused of committing a murder, and now I really had.



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