Would she just shut up? I don’t feel empowered, and I wish she’d stop telling me to. God, why do I have to deal with a damn social worker right now? And why’s every single room on the planet painted this horrible taupe color? It makes me feel like I’m a damn psychiatric patient. Well at the moment, I probably could be. I think I’m going insane. I can’t believe I’m about to do this. I have so many butterflies in my stomach that I think it’s going to explode. I wouldn’t mind that right now. I want to explode into a million little pieces and be forgotten. Just disappear. Uhhh, I feel so sick. Why am I doing this? Why am I facing him? No, don’t think about that night, don’t think about it, just tell yourself why… just say why… that’s all. Ok? Deep breath. Now, why? Because I don’t want him to do it to anyone else. Correct. Because I don’t want any other woman to feel like I do every day. Good. Yes. Because I hate him. Bingo. Because I fucking hate him, and I am fucking angry. So fucking angry. Oh God, I’m going to cry. Stop. You can’t cry. You can’t. Not yet. You have to go in there first. Deep breath. It’s ok. You’ve got this. Deep breaths. Oh fuck this. I’m a damn nutcase. I might actually be going insane. Ahahaha, I’m insane! I’m insane! Oh my God, I actually am insane! Stop it! You damn looney! HA! So you agree! Ok, Ok. I’ll stop. Couldn’t help it though. Oh, and can you believe his defense? He was sexually abused by his asshole of a dad as a kid so now he can go around raping and maiming! That bastard. I don’t give a shit what happened to him! He still did this to me! He did this to me! No! Don’t touch your face. Don’t reach up there. There’s no point. Don’t do it. Oh God, now I am crying. Where’s a damn tissue? Oh good, she has one. I guess social workers are good for something. Ok, couple of deep breaths, wipe your eyes, and then control yourself. You have to stop this. You’re about to go into that courtroom. Pull yourself together. Ok? Ok? Ok. Yes. Yes. I’m pulling myself together. I am. I’m fine. Yes, I’m fine. What the hell did she just say? Oh shit it’s time. Oh God, I’m not ok. I’m not fucking ok.
“Don’t worry, Miss Hiatt, everything will be fine. Right this way.”
* * *
Oh my God, there he is. Why’s everyone looking at me? Stop looking at me! I know I’m horrendous! Oh God, please make them stop. Please make them stop. Calm down. It’s alright. Relax. They’re only looking at you because you just walked into the courtroom. Yeah, but now they’re staring at my face. No, no they aren’t. Just relax. That’s right. Look you already made it to your seat. Now just sit. Perfect. You’re doing great. Would you look at him? He’s wearing a damn suit! That asshole. He shouldn’t be allowed to dress like that! He should have to wear what he was wearing when he did this to me! Show the jury his true colors! Pay attention! They just asked you your first question!
“Ummm, I’m sorry, could you please repeat the question? I wasn’t ready yet.”
* * *
I don’t want to answer this question! I don’t want to tell what happened in front of all these people. Oh God. I need to leave. I need to leave now. Oh God, please. Please. Shhh. It’s ok. Everything’ll be ok. You’re almost done. But you have to answer this question. You’re strong. You survived this. You got away. You’re here. You’re right, this won’t be easy. But remember, God doesn’t test you beyond what you can handle… Really, the God card? That’s low. Well, I guess I did pull it on myself huh? Ok, going insane again. Alright. You’re doing great. Keep going. Oh damn it, I’m tearing up. I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to cry. Ok, I’m crying. It’s alright. Everything’ll be ok. Just reach for the tissue box. That’s it. Now just wipe your eyes. Take a couple of deep breaths, that’s it, good, and now continue.
“I left the club around 1:30 A.M. and started walking home…”
* * *
Who’s that woman behind him? She seems really upset. She looks like she’s going to be ill. I think she needs these tissues more than I do! I wonder who the hell she is. She’s older. Looks like she could be his mother. Oh my God, it’s his mother! He has a mother? Well, of course he has a mother. I don’t mean that. It’s just that he has a mother who cares. My God, she’s really crying. No! I don’t give a shit! I don’t give a rat’s ass about her fucking tears! I can’t believe she has the nerve to cry! Can you believe it? Like she’s the damn victim here. I hate her. She should’ve raised a better son. It’s her fault! She failed! She screwed up and I have to pay! Bitch, bitch, bitch. Hey, calm down just a smidge, alright? Stop working yourself up. You’re acting like a damn nutcase. I am a damn nutcase. Stop it! Get a grip. And you don’t know what that woman went through. You have no idea how she was with her son. If her husband sexually abused their own son, how do you think he treated her, huh? That lady probably had a horrible life. What, so I have to pay for it? Come on, have some compassion. You are better than this bitter person. Look at her. Don’t you see her pain? She just loves her son. Screw her! What kind of person loves that monster? She’s probably a monster too! She’s just upset her son got caught!
“And then what happened next, Miss Hiatt?”
* * *
Oh screw you, Ms. A.D.A.! What do you think happened next! Can’t you see it all over my face! God, why does this have to be so damn civil! Ahhh, I’m just sitting in here screaming to myself and no one can hear! Come on, can’t you just relax and breathe for a bit? I mean for God’s sake. You’ve completely lost yourself! Do you think I want to be this way? I don’t want to be this person! But I can’t let go of the anger. I can’t! It protects me from the sadness and shame! Don’t you see? I have to be this way! I don’t know what else to be! It gives me strength.
“Well, Ms. Hiatt, you said it was dark in the alleyway. So then can you please explain to me how you knew it was my client who attacked you?”
* * *
What a great question, asshole! Geez, I hate this guy already! Good God, who’s making all that noise? It sounds like a funeral in here! Oh for heaven’s sake, it’s the mother again! I mean really, lady, don’t you think you’re being a tad ridiculous? It really isn’t about you! Goodness, she’s really, really upset. She hasn’t let up the whole time I’ve been in here. Alright, fine, I’ll give it to you. She obviously does really love her son. I guess it’s only natural for a mother to love her son. But it’s sorda sad though, isn’t it? I can’t imagine watching my son grow up to become a monster. She must’ve seen it happening and couldn’t stop it. Well how could she in their household? Sounds like her husband was a real piece of work. She must’ve really suffered, watching her son’s pain and not being able to help, not being able to make it stop or go away. That’s a mom’s job, to protect her children. And she couldn’t. She failed… Just like now… Oh my God, she still sees him as that little boy that she can’t help. That’s why she’s crying so much. To her, he’s just her little boy. Oh my God, that poor woman. Maybe, I should go easy on her. I mean how long has she suffered? Felt guilty and punished herself for her failures? Oh the poor woman. I feel so bad for her. Oh dear God, please be with that woman, please end her suffering, please help her find peace. It’s not her fault. It really isn’t. And if any of it is, please forgive her. Please be with her Lord. Please help her to forgive herself.
“Miss Hiatt, were you or weren’t you wearing inappropriate and revealing clothing the night of the alleged attack?”
* * *
Alleged my ass! Fucking dick… God, is this over yet? I don’t think I can take much more. If I don’t get done soon, I might pass out. You know, watching his mom made me realize something—at some point, he must have just been a little boy. Like any other little boy, right? His mom loves him. And she still loves him because she remembers him as just her little boy. So he was once just a regular boy. Did he like playing in the mud? Chasing fireflies? Did he like riding his bike? Did he even have a bike? Did his dad ever take him on vacation or fishing or to the movies? When did he start dreading doing anything with his dad? How old was he when it started? 10? 7? Even younger? His childhood must’ve been so painful. He must’ve felt so alone and so scared all the time. Did he have somewhere to hide? How did he deal with it? I feel so bad for him. Not him as the grown man, but him as the boy. Every child deserves to be innocent, and it should never be ripped away. The poor boy. But that doesn’t mean he can grow up to be a rapist! Nothing excuses him now. At some point, he had a damn choice, and he chose the wrong damn thing to do with his pain! Oh my God, he just looked at me! He was crying. He was actually crying! He looked… He looked… ashamed and pained and worried and scared and maybe even… sorry… Is that possible? Sorry? No, he’s probably just sorry he got caught. But I didn’t feel that that was it. It felt like he was truly sorry, like he was apologizing. Oh God, I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready to feel compassion for him. I can’t yet. I need my anger. I just can’t forgive him. Not yet. It wouldn’t be real. I wouldn’t mean it yet. And when I finally do forgive, I want to mean it. I want to be able to say it and never feel the anger inside me again. God, I need your strength. I need you to show me how to forgive and love again. I don’t want to be like this forever. I want to change and find myself once more. Please God, bring me into your light. Oh! He’s looking at me again. He is staring. He has green eyes like me, I hadn’t noticed….I want to do something. I’m not ready to forgive you, but, while I’m looking at you, I’m prepared to make you a promise. I’m ready to promise that I’ll work every day to find a way to forgive you. I promise I will work to release my anger. I promise to find a way. And I promise that one day I will forgive myself for becoming this angry person. And I promise that one day I will forgive you, and I will mean it. I promise I will find grace for us both.
“Miss Hiatt, you may now step down from the witness chair.”
Mary Jaimes loves reading, writing, and editing and is lucky enough be able to pursue these passions through her work for Scigentasy. She is interested in speculative fiction, traveling, eating good food, and watching sports. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and earned a J.D. at the University of Texas. Last but not least, she is the proud wife of an amazing husband and a loving mother to her chiweenie and two cats.