As if it were all playing out in slow motion, everything began to evolve in front of my eyes. One by one, the members of the jury stood to their feet with one purpose firmly planted in their hearts and minds. It was quite clear that their only goal was to rid themselves of me forever. All it took was a single glance in their direction to confirm my worst fears. I immediately knew that they truly despised me from the deepest parts of their evil hearts. Pure hatred was etched across each hardened face as they pointed their accusing fingers. In unison, the jury began to yell, “She’s guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty as charged!”
Hearing this, my heart fell. I began to realize my path was doomed. An endless stream of cold tears ran down my flushed cheeks. Broken, I stood there feeling their piercing eyes staring at me. It pained me to know that I was completely rejected by all those surrounding me.
With horror, I pleaded earnestly as I fell to my knees, “NO! NO! I’m innocent! Innocent! Please!” My shoulders began to shake violently as I continued begging, “NO! I’m innocent! You hear me, innocent! I have done nothing wrong! Please believe me!”
But it was no use, for my desperate pleas fell on deaf ears. The sneering jury, my peers, and the glaring judge looked down upon me, unaffected by my protests. With hearts as cold as stone, the jury heartlessly professed once again, “She’s guilty! Guilty! Guilty as charged!”
Soon, the room erupted into turmoil. Finally, the judge raised his hand, quieting everyone in the room. He cleared his throat loudly and announced with a disgusted look of wrath, “I hereby proclaim that this defendant, Lexie Gunzila, has chosen her own fate by her choices and actions! She has been found guilty. The verdict is that she must spend eternity in the Black Cell!” And with that, the wooden gavel came crashing down onto the judge’s sound block causing an echo to reverberate throughout the austere courtroom.
A loud cry sounded from my throat, and before I could interject another plea, two officers roughly grabbed my arms and yanked me to my feet. As they dragged me down the hallway, I begged and beseeched, “No, this has to be a mistake! Please! Someone help me!” Slowly, I shut my eyes. A single tear rolled down my cheek, hitting the stone pathway leading to the desolate cell awaiting me.
With a quick and sudden start, I jerked upright in my bed. I let a soft scream erupt from my lips. My chest was rising and falling, and I labored to catch my breath. All the while, my azure-blue eyes darted about madly, looking for something—anything—out of place. I soon decided everything was in its rightful place. Sweat soaked my t-shirt, and my sheets were wrapped tightly around me from my fitful sleep. Slowly bringing a hand to my forehead, I closed my eyes and breathed a shaky sigh of relief. I silently slipped back beneath the comforter and, trying to reassure myself, whispered softly, “It was just a dream. Just a… dream.”
“Beep, beep, beep,” sounded in the distance causing me to stir slightly. I groaned softly and flipped over onto my stomach, all the while dreaming of wildflowers dancing in a gentle breeze, sweeping over the gentle plains. Muted colors were moving slowly in my mind drawing me into a deeper slumber. It all seemed so relaxing, so blissful, so— “Beep, beep, beep!” my alarm clock echoed faster with each beep. Startled by the interruption, I bolted upright in my bed. Fumbling sleepily, I tried to locate the alarm clock, wanting to chuck it across the room to silence it forever. Not being successful, I couldn’t help but grumble, “Where is it for Columbus Pete’s sake?!”
Just then my arm connected with something, and with a single forceful sweep, the clock skidded across the nightstand and fell to the floor. Once again, silence filled the air. With a sigh of contentment, I pulled the blankets up to my chin as I mumbled, “At last, peace and quiet.”
But not even thirty seconds had passed when I heard my mom calling from the foot of the stairs, “Lexie! Breakfast is ready!”
Upon hearing her, I couldn’t help but moan and bury my face in my pillow. I was clearly not ready to start the day. “Just a few more minutes,” came my muffled reply.
“Lexie,” my mom exclaimed sternly, “the bus will be here in less than thirty minutes! You’ll be late for sure if you don’t hurry!”
Realization suddenly hit home, so I quickly jumped out of bed making a fast beeline for the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, I emerged from my room with my backpack casually slung over my shoulder and headed downstairs to grab a bite to eat.
“Hey, Honey! Did you sleep well?” my mom asked without looking up as she dug through the kitchen drawers for a utensil. I sarcastically chuckled softly, “Not really.”
At that, my mom froze and sent a worried look my way. She briefly searched my face and then inquired quietly, “It was another nightmare, wasn’t it?”
Now I wished I hadn’t said anything in the first place. I hated it when she did this. I hesitated slightly before nodding my head to confirm her suspicions.
Mom bit her bottom lip and began to say, “Maybe we should—”
“I’m fine, Mom!” I snapped. “They are just nightmares. It’s no big deal.” But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted saying them. She gave her usual single nod and silently turned back to finish her task.
An awkward silence hung in the air making me shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other. Wanting an excuse to leave, I grabbed an apple and headed toward the door muttering, “Gotta go! See you later, Mom!”
“Wait!” my mom exclaimed as she quickly turned to face me.
With my hand on the doorknob, I paused, waiting for her to finish whatever she was going to say.
“Lexie,” she began slowly, toying with a dishtowel in her hands. “Your father…well…he asked me to go to church with him this Sunday.”
At that, my mouth fell open, and I swiveled my head around to face her. Thinking this was just a joke, I questioned, “You’re kidding, right?” But the look on her face told me otherwise. I exclaimed, “Mom! What did you tell him?”
She took a deep breath before answering, “I, umm, I told him that I would like to go.”
Hearing her honest answer, I could only stare hard at the kitchen wall, grinding my teeth.
With hurt clouding her eyes, my mother pleaded, “Now I’m asking you if you would like to go with us?”
I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow and declare, a bit too hastily, “No, thanks!”
“Are you sure?” she whispered softly.
“Yes!” I literally exploded and cried, “Mom, do you honestly believe in all this God stuff?”
One look at her face told me the answer to my question before I heard her reply.
Finally, she voiced quietly, “Yes, I’m starting to.”
Before storming out of the house, I shook my head in disbelief and feeling as though she too were abandoning me.
Written by Hannah Schweinschaupt. This article was published in the Spring 2013 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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