Judge, Jury, Executioner
He looks so fine up there, his head thrown back, a thick pulse thudding at his throat. If it weren’t for his shackles he could almost be in church, a pillar of righteousness.
But instead he’s in the dock, and I’m here.
The judge reviews the evidence, making it sound even more damning than the prosecution had. Gruesome injuries, he drones. Overwhelming strength. I tremble, but the defendant doesn’t hang his head; he stays straight-backed, his eyes fixed in the crowd, on one face in particular.
I don’t have to look to know which one.
When I caught my husband sneaking out at night, I did nothing for the longest time. I waited. I chose my moment carefully, following on silent feet. When I saw him embrace another man – this man, whose life I’m about to judge – a rage like hellfire filled my bones and blood.
So I crept to his house. I murdered his wife. It was as if a demon overtook me.
And when they dragged him to trial, this fine innocent man, he confessed. To spare my husband, he confessed. To spare me the shame.
‘Madam Foreperson. Your verdict, please.’
Like a coward, I rise and condemn him, and his eyes never leave my husband’s face.
This week’s Flash! Friday (which I heartily recommend you try) asks participants to write a story between 190 and 210 words (I barely scraped in!) based around the image prompt, above, and the ‘concept’ prompt of ‘Man vs. Self’. The image prompt was of a jury of women sitting in judgement, and perhaps it’s because of my love of folksongs with their dark, twisty deeds, but the first place my mind went when I thought about interior conflict was this: what if you were judging someone for a crime you knew they hadn’t committed, but you had no choice but to convict them?
Well. And so, this tale was born.
Again, I make no claim to have written a ‘good’ story. It’s a story which didn’t exist an hour ago, and that – for me – is enough. I’ve been finding story-writing tough lately, and so any week in which I can get a story to coalesce long enough to capture it is a good one. Let’s hope it’s a good sign for the rest of the day’s endeavours!
Alors, my loves. I must fly. Happy weekend, one and all, and make sure to do some creative thinking over your down-time. It can only be, I’m assured, a Very Good Thing.