A topic I was set to write about at college. Incidentally, this was the one chosen to be projected to the class and criticized :)
I wouldn’t sit, even though my legs trembled as though the very concrete beneath my feet was unstable. But I wouldn’t sit amongst them anyway. The lights flickered: a yellow, garish glare, emitting a steady drone louder than the constant hum of the excited voices of my fellow spectators. I closed my eyes and sighed before reopening them again. I couldn’t control my sympathies for the murderer. Like unattainable prey feeling pity for her predator. Absurd. Utterly wrong.
His eyes told me nothing about him. But aren’t eyes ‘windows to the soul’? I saw nothing. For the first time, I noticed they were dark. Darker than the shadows of space. Veiled by no expression or emotion, just a raw, uncouth void of darkness and a perversity frightening to look upon. I’d relied on his eyes to tell me why I was there, but they gave me no explanation. When they sought for me, as I knew they would, I felt naked to the eyes of a shark. My hands began to shake so I clenched them together. Was I feeling fear? I should have been, but I wasn’t.
His mouth twitched into a smile that his eyes didn’t mirror. I hated myself. I wanted myself to burn away; I should be in that room just for coming here. We should all be in that room.
When he’d entered, my fellow witnesses swore angrily under their breaths, they murmured comments into each others ears, they clenched their fists … but for the most part they sat still and silent, their expressions as cold as stone. Except a woman who sat away in a corner, clutched at her skirt and wept.
I had been his comfort once. His carer. I'd seen how he'd seen me. I'd read his thoughts, and I knew what he was. Though I’d bathed his wounds and fed his stomach through tubes, almost as a mother. I'd kept him alive, just to watch him die, be killed. The irony of it sickened me.
So I held his stare for only as long as I could. It wasn’t long until I looked away, I hadn’t expected it to be. Instead, I examined his appearance, his rough skin and his bearded jaw. Prison clothes … empty hands. To die with nothing to hold, nobody to …
But he continued to stare at me, even after I’d looked away. His stare burned into my face as the guards helped him onto the bed. There were no pillows, no attempts at comfort, just a bare bed for the man I should have hated, to die.
I don’t know what I felt. I didn’t care for him, I didn’t know him, and I certainly knew that he deserved death for what he had done. What he had done … but that hardly seemed important to me. He had raped and killed six women. Two of his surviving victims sat among us, saying nothing. But I didn’t care. I thought them selfish to want him dead.
To kill a man?
Till the last moment, he still held my stare. A shadow of a smile still on his face. As the thing we had awaited happened, I saw the emptiness fade away. It was replaced by something that resembled fear … something that made my insides churn. I wanted to comfort him … so I smiled. I smiled at him and my thought was ‘You’ll go to a better place.’
I’d forgotten everybody had wished him to hell.
So he died, his shell left on the bed. I collapsed, sobbing into my palms - I couldn't tell you why. I felt everybody stare…
Except the woman who clutched a fistful of her skirt, sat away in a corner and wept.