The sun rests in the sky above me, punishing and cruel, it does nothing but bring perspiration to my forehead. My insides remain cold and empty, the perfect rendition of a barren chopped up forest covered in frost. My fingertips could freeze Medusa faster than her own snakes turned against her. I shiver, my legs like lead refuse to move, I think I have been here for hours, but my clock shows only a difference of minutes.
I lick my lips and taste the salty bitterness of sweat on my upper lip. I use the sleeve of my hoodie to wipe the sweat on my face away, and the fear that rips through my body and threatens to take control is greater than normal. I cautiously make sure that my shirt doesn’t come up with my hoodie and none of my stomach skin is exposed. The building watches my process. SKIN. SKIN. SKIN. blares in my head. The court’s glare penetrates my body and I almost double over and heave.
This will never end?
Roberto “Bernie” Alies-
I should have known she would take advantage of my kindness, but she was just so appealing. She was practically begging for it. The slight slur of her words told me she was too drunk to not punch and kick as much as she would sober, but too sober to not forget everything like she would drunk.
“Don’t worry. Your case is set and solid. I don’t know why she would take you to court about this little thing, it’s not like she didn’t want it. You know with all this Me Too stuff lots of women are getting besides themselves...” my best friend, Leonardo, rambles. He has been pacing up and down the room, so I can’t tell if he’s nervous or irritated.
“This is why I prefer obedience not feistiness,” he sighs while sinking into the chair opposite from me.
I smirk, “You didn’t seem to mind her feistiness the night I brought her around.” He leans back in his seat and huffs. He closes his eyes and rubs the fainting bite mark on his finger, a smile slowly spreads on his lips. He opens his eyes and when our eyes lock my smirk grows, I know exactly what he was thinking about.
The door opens loudly and Lea walks in. My beautiful girlfriend. I lick my lips as I stare at her and like usual one side of her mouth lifts. When my smile doesn’t drop the other side of her mouth lifts so she is fully smiling. In her small voice she says, “It’s about time. They said Ally has just arrived.”
Lea heads towards her seat but I beckon her towards me. She hesitates but when I raise my eyebrow she obeys. Her hands twitch and when she walks over to me I grab them, she looks surprised which makes sense- I don’t usually hold her hand. “I don’t ever want to hear the word Ally come from your mouth again,” My grip on her wrist tightens but unlike before she doesn’t speak out or whine. Instead she closes her eyes tight and nods her head.
I look at Leo and smirk, he’s always saying that Lea would leave one day. When she sits next to me I put my hand on her thigh. Her breathing seizes. She looks at me slowly and her flinch widens my smile. I don’t see how she could leave me since I constantly remind her of the fact that she can’t survive without me. How could she leave someone who loves her so much?
The Court Reporter-
I thought transfering to this court after my move would make everything easier. I would work closer to my friends and wouldn’t have to take 5 different busses to get to and from work every day. How is it that I only depend on one bus to get to and from work, yet I still managed to be late. I definitely owe Julie lunch for covering for me.
A group of people walk in. One is a short female that looks Hispanic. She keeps her head down. One is a natural blonde and tall, he has a few moles on his neck but you wouldn’t have been able to see them if he wasn’t wearing a white v-neck. The other male looks a little older. The corner of his dull green and hazelnut eyes are wrinkled and he walks with a certain confidence- maybe it’s arrogance.
This is going to be an interesting case.
Then another group of people walk in- two women. One white with long brown hair, her eyes have fire in them.
The woman next to her wears a buzz cut, her eyes a warm brown. She sports a hoodie and a leather jacket that is too big on her and covers her fingers. I literally can not stand to look at her- how can she be wearing all these layers with this heat? If it wasn’t for the cool air blasting from the A.C I would have already died twice.
Everyone sits down and I lean back in my seat. What's up with the atmosphere? It’s like there’s a divide in the room. The two males try to stifle the laughter booming from their mouths. The ladies seem so serious, though, it’s probably their time of the month. I roll my eyes and think, girls. The Hispanic lady sits like she’s waiting.
The Judge starts scrambling papers around and I can tell he is about to start the court session. I pick up my phone and quickly rush to turn it off but a snapchat bubble pops up at the top of my screen.
THING ONE is texting…
I sigh and glance at the judge but shrug my shoulders. I click on the THING ONE and almost die of laughter. Raysheen has been texting me Birdbox memes since we watched the movie together. I text him a quick laughing emoji and then another text saying that this one is my new favorite before quickly turning my phone off.
The judge starts the process and my hands start to fly, typing every word that comes out of his mouth. My hands go eerily still once I hear what the male is being accused of.
The accused (he charmingly insisted we call him Bernie) is the first to be defended. Defended? A feeling curls through my body and my hands twitch with disgust, but I don’t do anything, it’s not my place. This is why I scribe for the lower courts- so I don’t have to deal these things.
The first person to go on the stand is Leo. “I have known Bernie since we were in diapers. I don’t believe that the accusations about him are true. He would never disrespect a woman like that. Not to mention he loves Lea so much... Out of all the girls Bernie has ever dated, she has been around for the longest. I don’t think Bernie would jeopardize that.”
He is asked the usual question and replies quickly, without doubt.
Where were you at 12:00 am on Friday the 10th of February?
“Me and Bernie had went clubbing for a little and then we had came back home. Once home we stayed up a little, but lately Lea has been getting tired easily so she went to sleep before us. ”
Was Alicia Hayes in your apartment that night, yes or no?
The questioning continues. I force my hands to go faster as if it’ll make my lunch break come any sooner. Lea takes the stand. She’s dead calm but her hands twitch uncontrollable. For a moment she stalls, her eyes widen a little bit but then she’s talking vibrantly. I trace my eyes to where she was looking and my quest leads me to Bernie. His smile reminds me of the cheshire cat. I look away.
Time passes and before I know it Alicia is on the stand swearing on the bible. The blonde -Leonardo- snickers and rage fills me, but I quickly remind myself that I simply write down the proceedings. I don’t have a say on this issue.
Her questions are different.
Can you please walk me through the events of February Friday the 10th.
She touches her fingertips to her face and I thought the word Medusa escaped from her lips, probably not. “I had just found out that I would be working on Valentine's day so me and a friend decided to celebrate early. We went to the Club Flames on Washington Avenue. I had two drinks maybe 3 but not more than 4. I wasn’t walking around drunk, I was just a little tipsy.”
The judge starts to talk, startling me. I don’t know why.
“How do I know this evidence is credited and can be used.”
Alicia blinks as if she never thought those words would come out of the judge’s mouth. She lets out a few heavy deep puffs of breath and her eyes glaze over. In a whisper she says, “my friend’s testimony is after mine,” he voice sounds cold, sharper than ice. “May I continue?” The judge gives a sharp nod and she takes a deep breath in.
“I was heading towards the bathroom but I bumped into Ro- Ro-” she closes her eyes and the shaking deepens to a point that is noticeable but still subtle enough that we all pretend not to notice it. “Roberto.” The way she says his name- not like glass or a knife but like a poison, one that takes its time spreading through your organs, leaving you with nothing. “He said he wanted to help me but I told him I didn’t need his help. He- “ another deep breath, the trembles deepen, “he grabbed my thigh and said that I was begging for his help.”
“Ms. Hayes, what were you wearing on this night?”
Alicia’s head snapped up to look at Judge Falasco, “I’m sorry judge but I fail to see how that is important to this trial.”
Alicia continuous with her description and when she starts to shake and her words start to become dark, I go to my happy place. A startling thought brings me down, Lea shook too. Lea seems to control it, she seems above it -shoot- she seems to be ruling it. Alicia is drowning in it. If you listened to her voice, smooth and calm, you wouldn’t know it. I wonder if that means Lea is drowning too?
By the time Alicia leaves the stand the shaking has stopped, but she is staring blankly into nothing. She reminds me of Raysheen when he’s off his antidepressants. I make a mental reminder to talk to him about how he’s doing mentally and move that to the back of my mind. My hands keep moving rapidly and my stomach rumbles- it is so close to my lunch break. My hands are starting to hurt so I take turns typing with one hand while stretching the other. Alicia’s friend takes the stand.
“Where were you while Ms. Hayes was talking to Mr. Alies?”
The woman- Sherwin- says, “I was trying to get to the bar. Alicia told me she was going to the bathroom.”
“Has Ms. Hayes ever been one for the dramatics?”
Sherwins runs her hand through her long brown hair and squints her eyes. “I believe her wholeheartedly… Alicia isn’t one to go home with strangers and she never drinks past her limits. She came home the next morning with scars.”
I decide that I like Sherwin. As the judge asks her question, her tone stays respectful but her eyes say it all. After her questioning the judge declares a five minute break to make his decision.
I know that after these five minutes, It’ll be my lunch break, so I see no need to keep my phone off. Turning my phone on, I scan the room. Sherwin and Alicia are gone. Both the attorneys and Bernie’s crew remain. I pay no mind to them and focus on defeating level 122 of Candy Crush. I spend a few minutes playing Candy Crush before Sherwin walks in with Alicia. I want to talk to her but what do I say? I haven’t really studied the case so I don’t know if she could be lying. My mind flashes to this article I read about a man that was falsely accused- his life was ruined. That could be Bernie. I shake that thought out of my head. If he really did that to her, her life is already ruined.
I shouldn't dwell over something I have no control over. I try not to think about anything as the judge finally lifts his head. “I pronounce Roberto Alies -the accused- not guilty.”
I’m stuck loading at 99%. People are leaving, why are people leaving? We’re not done yet.
Sherwin looks at me, shoulders slumped and a angry look on her face, “I’m sorry,” she whispers. Sorry about what, I want to say but the weeds in my mouth stop me. Bile is rising in my throat and the world is tipping. I need to go to the hospital, my heart is beating too loud.
The paralyzing fear I felt when I realized I would be breathing the same air as him has returned. Oh God, this will never end.
I gave it my all, yet my all still wasn’t enough.
My heart sinks inside of me. A pressing weight pushes my chest down- suffocation. I rub my hand on my chest and my body sags on the chair. No weeps. No pained groans. Silence is its own sound.
It hurts again. Nothing new.
Lea- “One Day”
He loves me.