Fiction By Madeline // 2/23/2012

Two: Skirts, Courthouses, and Kisses.

     I wish I wouldn’t have worn a skirt. It’s not practical. Maybe I let mom talk me into it because I felt bad. Maybe I thought it would give me a better chance of convincing the judge to overlook my charge. But being professional? When has that ever helped anybody? The skirt is tight and it pushes my legs together. I’m sweating, which makes it worse. My stupid Day-of-the-Week underwear rides up. I can't fix it because I’m sitting, and because I’m wearing a skirt. I hate skirts.
    “We’re next,” mom whispers, leaning over to squeeze my hand. I feel bad when I notice how hopeful her eyes look. She’s going to be so let down. I’ve had a bad feeling--not only for today but for the past week--about this trial. I am going to be sentenced to a life in prison. Fifteen years of happiness was all I got.
    “Will Kathryn Renee please come up to the stand?”
    I rise, wincing as I notice twenty-or-so pairs of eyes on me. A few faces are familiar. Gregory is there, sitting by Reida. Lynda is holding Gregory’s hand. Mom is sitting beside them. Dad is nowhere to be found.
    “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
    I turn to face Chief Williams, who is holding a Bible in front of me. I touch it briefly and nod, turning back to the judge.
    “We…don’t really have someone who’s arguing against Miss Renee,” he’s explaining to the jury. I turn to look at the faces that will decide my fate. Some look eighteen, others close to eighty. None of them appear incredibly forgiving.
    The mayor steps up to the podium I’m sitting at, leaning against it nonchalantly. I offer him a timid smile. He doesn’t return it.
    “So I will be questioning this young lady,” he announces, turning to me. “Kathryn, did you or did you not try to run away?”
    “Yes,” I say firmly, almost proud.
    “And how many times have you tried that?”
    My voice comes out lower, more ashamed this time. “…this was the fourth time.”
    “Have you ever succeeded?”
    I look at him somberly, cringing against my seat. “Almost. The first time I ever tried to sneak out, about a year ago.”
    “When you were fourteen?”
    “And why do you try to run?”
    “Because,” I say, straightening myself up a little. “Because I hate it here.”
    There is an audible gasp from the crowd. The mayor clenches and unclenches his jaw. I can tell I’ve made him angry. Oops.
    “Why do you hate it?” He asks gently, after a long silence.
    I purse my lips, wanting to answer truthfully, but afraid to. “It’s...it’s not you, or the town, even. It’s the utter lack of freedom. I hate being me. My gifts.”
    He steps away from the podium, walking backwards, toward a pew in the front. “Some would argue that having powers frees you. Allows you to do things.”
    My chin rises a bit. “Not when you’re condemned to a compound for all of your life. Not when you can’t go on vacations like a normal person, or even leave the gates. Not when you have more rules in addition to the regular government ones.”
    His expression softens, just the tiniest bit. “What’s the first thing you would do if you could get away?”
    I already know this answer. “Talk to someone.”
    “Talk to someone?” He asks harshly, so it’s almost a sneer. He makes a gesture with his arm, sweeping it across the room. “Is this room not filled with incredible people? People you can talk to anytime you want?”
    I shake my head. “I’d talk to someone normal.”
    “Normal.” It’s not a question.
    I nod anyway. “Someone without magic.”
    “Someone…who’s not a witch?”
    My silence is answer enough. 
    “But isn’t it almost…noble?” He continues, circling the room. Everyone is intent on this conversation, intent on me. Even the judge is leaning forward, soaking it all in. “Being with people of such immense ability?”
    “I never said that. But I’d like to know someone who doesn’t ask me when I meet them, ‘So how does it feel to levitate?’ I want them to ask me about my family and friends, if I have any pets, if I like school. Living here, all that comes later. What’s most important is if you like what gift you have.”
    He sighs. “That’s the last of my questions, Your Honor.”
    Everyone visibly relaxes as the mayor takes a seat, including me. I stand up and walk back to sit by mom with shaky knees. She looks at me out of the corner of her eye, offering me a small smile. I return it.
    We are dismissed so the jury can--quote--“converse”. I walk out of the courthouse doors, sitting on the concrete steps, enjoying the sun.
    “You were terrific,” Gregory suddenly says from behind me.
    I turn around, smiling at him. “Thanks.”
    He sits beside me with a sigh. I stare out at the busy street, silent and thoughtful, before I realize how rigid Gregory is next to me.
    “Is something wrong?”
    He grabs my hand, squeezing it. “It’s just…do you really feel that way? About the town? About us?” Even though he’s finished, the unspoken about me echoes in our ears.
    “Yes,” I whisper, looking down. He grunts.
    “Huh. Well, okay.”
    We lapse into silence again, just staring. My head is throbbing.
    “You know I love you.”
    He turns toward me, challenging me with his eyes. “Do you?”
    “Yeah…” I say, scrambling for a way to patch things up. “You’re…like my brother. I don’t…I couldn’t live without you.”
    He sighs, slinging an arm around my shoulders. “You suck at apologies.”
    I laugh into his chest. “I know.”
    There is a tap on my shoulder before we can say anything else, and I turn around. Lynda is there, looking both amused and furious.
    “They’re ready for you,” she snaps.
    I stand up, looking down at Gregory uncertainly. “Are you going to come?”
    He dismisses the offer with a wave of his hand. “Nah. Too stuffy in there.”
    Even though I know he cares about me, I can’t help but feel hurt. I turn and head for the courthouse, quickening my pace when I hear the chattering inside.
    “Silence, silence,” the judge is saying as I walk in. He looks at me. “Ah, Kathryn. Come sit, please. We have the verdict.”
    I sit down, smoothing my skirt as I do so. Talking with Gregory helped me forget about my uncomfortable attire--at least for a few moments. Now it is front and foremost in my mind. I twitch and wriggle and sigh as the judge whisper-talks to a couple members of the jury. At last they all sit down, and he bangs his gavel against his desk.
    “Order, order,” he says, even though everyone was silent in the first place.
    Mom comes walking up, sitting beside me. When I turn to smile at her, she is frowning, and I quickly look away.
    “We’ve decided that, even though Kathryn is only fifteen years of age, she is too high-risk to keep free in the compound-“
    I let out a cross between a strangled cry and a choked sob. This is worse than I imagined. Far, far worse. I never thought it’d happen.
    “Thus,” the judge continues, glancing warily at me. “She will be sentenced to a Home, where she will be under the utmost surveillance. The home is just on the outskirts of the compound. Visiting will be allowed once a week, she will go to an on-site school, and we will re-evaluate when her sentence is up.” Once again, he bangs the gavel. This time, though, it has a different significance. It means things are over. It means the end. “Court dismissed. Kathryn, you need to go home and pack your things, as you will be admitted into the Home first thing tomorrow.”
     Mom stands quickly, turns, and all but runs down the aisle, leaving me openmouthed and breathless. Doom comes creeping up on me, paralyzing. I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I can’t see.
    My eyes well with tears and I let out a sob. Instantly people are rushing toward me, patting my back and crooning gentle words and trying to comfort. But they don’t help anything.
    They make it worse.
    Somehow dad makes it to me and helps me to my feet. I bite my lip, struggling to control my tears. As he pulls me from the courthouse, followed by a surge of people and reporters and cameras, I see Gregory and Lynda.
    They are sitting on the steps, locked in a kiss. Her arms are around him, pulling him close, and his hands are on her back. It’s ten times worse than in the movies. It’s not sappy, it’s not disgustingly close. It’s warm and loving and absolutely terrific-looking.  That makes me hate it even more.
    Gregory breaks away from Lynda with a smile, turning his head ever so slightly. When he sees me his jubilant grin drops. He stares at me, horrified, but dad keeps tugging me forward. Lynda gets to her feet and rushes up to us, whispering a million questions, already crying. But all I see is Gregory, frozen on the steps, watching me.
    “I hate you,” I mouth, right before I’m pulled out of sight.


Dramatic, right? Not? Oh, dear. :D

So, is anyone brave enough to request chapter 3??




 I'm going to read chapter 3

 I'm going to read chapter 3 ASAP, but until then I wanted you to know I'm reading. This has definitely hooked me.

Anna | Thu, 03/01/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Awe, thank you!!! :-)

Thank you, Anna!! That reminds me--I need to read the new chapters of "Out of Time" you've posted. I've been busy lately, and haven't had the time. But I'm excited to catch up. Once again, thanks!! :D

Madeline | Fri, 03/02/2012


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