by Deena L. Trouten
I heard someone sniffle in the next stall. Unintelligible words rolled across her tongue as she exhaled a prayer. “Not my will but Thine,” I imagined she said.
I closed my eyes and prayed with her, silently affirming her petitions (whatever they might have been). Then I spoke, quiet words, perhaps hoping she might hear.
“Father,” I sighed. “It is justice I want. And yet…” I paused. I didn't really want to ask. “And yet…I ask for your mercy.”
She may have silently affirmed my wishes as well. Then she spoke. It was a strained whisper. “Lord, it’s mercy I desire. And yet—“ she choked back a sob. “I seek your justice.”
I stepped out, squeezed the soap dispenser, washed my hands. When she emerged I stared at her reflection dabbing at swollen eyes. She met my gaze and paused as if on the verge of a precipice, tiptoe, a thousand feet up. We both swayed a bit in the uncertain air around us. She stared awkwardly at a spot on the floor. Then her face twisted and she began to crumple. Unexpectedly, I reached out to embrace her. She collapsed in my grasp, as though she had been holding her breath for a very long time.
We cried a while, then stepped back, patted our noses and primped our hair. “His will be done,” she whispered hesitantly. I nodded.
We entered the courtroom together, our heels clacking against the tiles, loud and flat, like the gun shots fired at my husband. I stopped. She brushed past. The courtroom stirred.
We took our seats; mine behind the prosecutor, hers behind the accused.
Court TV showed us making eye contact. “Cold contempt glaring between them,” Nancy Grace observed. According to Nancy my smile was a smirk; the responding nod, a brush-off.
Nancy was wrong.
My smile was a thank you. The nod, acquiescence.
Justice would be served.
Deena lives in southwestern Idaho with her husband and two children. Her short fiction has appeared in The Green Tricycle and flashquake magazine. Contact Deena.