Today was critical. Today was the beginning of the end for her. And yet, it was the beginning of a new beginning for them. Veronica heard her name. She felt misted, a little dizzy. The lack of sleep in the prison, all the noise, all the worrying – it had made her exhausted. The lawyer next to her touched her shoulder gently, in an attempt to wake her from her daydreaming. Veronica stood up and walked towards the chair next to the judge. Now everyone could see her. All those eyes were pinned on her. She felt uncomfortable, but she knew this was it, the time to speak up. She vowed to tell the truth and waited till her lawyer would start. He was dressed in a beautiful black suit. He was middle-aged and had a friendly face, with a trimmed beard. The first time they had met, Veronica had checked his hands. Clean fingernails, soft hands. It gave her a feeling of trust and peace that he was neat.
‘Ms., can you tell us what happened? Start where you would like to. Take your time’, he said.
Veronica had decided to focus on him while talking. She knew him, she trusted him and he knew the story already. That would make it easier.
‘I killed him, I am guilty.’
Everyone in the crowd seemed to hold their breath. Veronica saw stupefaction in her lawyer’s eyes. Maybe she should not have started with that. But it was the truth and she was not planning on denying any of it. She was not here to avoid her sentence, she was here to tell the truth. Veronica folded her hands, took a breath and went on.
‘Was I mistaken to kill him? Yes. But the only thing I regret is that it took me so long to figure out what was going on. I should have seen it so much sooner. It happed in my…’
Her voice cracked. Veroncia unlocked her eyes from the lawyer in front of her and searched for her daughters. They were both here. Julie was crying. She had her head down. She did not want to take in every piece of the environment. She was listening, but did not need to see. Sophie was stronger, just like her mother. Her back was straight, head held high. She was holding her sister’s hand. Their mother’s pausing made Julie look up. She pinched Sophie’s hand harder and tried to copy her posture. Veronica saw the strength of her daughters, which made her continue the story.
‘It happened in my own house. And I am their mother. I should have known. Marc used to check on them in the middle of the night, when they were young. There is nothing strange about that. It made me proud to have such a loving and caring husband. But they are teenagers now.’
Her lawyer nodded softly, to show her she was doing well.
‘One night, I woke up and Marc was not in our bed, not even in our room. We have bottles of water there, so I did not understand why he would leave the room in the middle of the night. When he came back, he was surprised I was awake. Mad even. His breathing was heavy and he seemed agitated. I never asked, I just turned around and tried to sleep again. But something bothered me, even though I had no idea what, at that time.’
Everyone in the courtroom was silent. All eyes on Veronica or her daughters. Everyone knew what she would tell next, they could feel it, like the words hung in the air already.
‘The next morning, I went downstairs when Marc was off to work already. The strange feeling was not gone. Julie and Sophie were having breakfast, in silence. I wanted to hug them, to shake of the annoying feeling, you know? When I came closer to Sophie, I smelled her delicious perfume. It was then I knew. I had smelled the same thing last night, on Marc.’
Veronica had tears in her eyes, just like her daughters. She did not have to say the word out loud, everyone understood. She wanted to say one last thing before she went back to her seat. For this, Veronica forgot her lawyer and everyone else present. She looked at Julie and Sophie, their entangled hands and smiled.
‘I killed my husband, so my daughters can live. I will not be free anymore, so they can finally be again.’
Written for Skylark Challenge nr. 29 – words: misted, pausing, mistaken, critical (https://www.facebook.com/skylark.challenge/photos/pcb.248934092122350/248934055455687/?type=3&theater)