February 24, 2017
By , Elk Grove, CA

I'm driving Emily to the hearing. We're both drumming our fingers anxiously. Is it a good sign that we have the same anxious habit? It forms a nice rhythm. The music of too very worried people is the only soundtrack on the road to the courthouse. I get there relatively fast. We have to wait outside the cottroom for the doors to open. "Dammit." Emily says, seeing the cluster of reporters loitering outside the door. The glance at us but identifying that we aren't pop stars they turn the other way. Emily tucked her hair into a beanie and wore no makeup so she would seem more innocent. We approach the solid wooden doors and stand about a foot apart. I watch her twiddle her thumbs and try to count the sparkles in the concrete. I don't want to think about what's going to happen to us after the trial. It's uncertain. Counting the chickens before they hatch. If she goes to jail, will it really make a difference to me- I know the answer is yes. I was torn when she left the first time. I know its selfish, but I'm glad she got caught, just so I can see her again. She told me she will plead guilty, since she is. I can't convince her otherwise, and I'm not legitimate legal counsel anyways. It's hard to comprehend why she can't shift the blame where to belongs. She's biting her lip and still staring at the ground when the sudden sound of camera clicks fills the emptiness. The devil himself, Neil, is grinning as he walks in front of Loren and Jean. Body guards follow close behind. I dont know how much protection they think they need in Linda, for chrissakes, because their guards look like beasts come to life. Neil looks swell for someone who conspired to hurt his bandmate. "Emily," I say, trying to pull her from the fog of sadness that washes over her, "Why won't you say something about him?" She takes a few steps closer to the door as the others are swallowed up by the press. "He's blackmailing me, Carson." She makes eye contact. Even without makeup she looks perfect. "Look, maybe I can do something about this." I offer. She still isn't smiling. My dad shows up in my peripheral vision along with Emily's lawyer. He paid for it. Probably with all the savings from not paying utility bills and living on a bench. Emily waves over the duo, trying not to draw too much attention from the press. At least those morons are staying on their side. "Hey guys." Says Isaiah Andrews, the slick haired Irish lawyer, his freckles visible from a mile away. He runs his hand through his pompadour before extending it to shake. It's slimy with gel. Emily fakes confidence when Isaiah asks her, "Are you ready?" You're never ready for a celebrity trial. "I was born ready." Her false reassurance is satisfying, and Dad starts interrogating me. "You talked to the other side, Carson?" "I'd rather not." He stares engagingly at our opponents. Our enemies. Emily, Neil, and I are the only people that know he paid her to do it. "How is Jean there?" He asks, genuinely surprised. Back when we lived together I came forward with my crush on her. He said it was unlikely. "I was with her when we ran into Loren, before I met Emily." His eyes crinkle. He's trying to be a lie detector. Those aren't admissible in court due to their unreliability. The doors behind us crack open and the warm air rushes out. "Let's go!" Isaiah enthusiastically exclaims, holding open the door as we step in. We follow him as though we're hiding behind him. I used to do this when I was little, walking in a single file. I don't turn around when I hear more footsteps and chatter behind us. "Just keep walking." My dad says. Emily reaches for my hand from behind me. My face reddens, for no one to see. I continue to stare at the back of my dad's checkered dress shirt.

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