Just a very confused lady, really.

I wouldn’t sit, although my legs trembled profusely as though the very concrete beneath my feet was unstable.

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 witnesses. 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. The darkest shade of brown. A shadow, perhaps, of a colour that had once been. Veiled by no expression or emotion, just a raw, uncouth void of darkness and that depraved insanity I just couldn’t fathom. I’d relied on them 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 the room, some members of this perverse “audience” swore angrily under their breaths, they murmured comments into each other’s ears, they clenched their fists…but for the most part they sat still and silent, their expressions carved out of stone. Except a woman away in the corner, who clutched at her skirt and wept.

I had been his comfort once. I’d bathed his wounds and fed his stomach through tubes, like a mother. I kept him alive, just to watch him die, be killed. Ironic, sick, twisted - yes.

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…

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 was no pillow, no attempt 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. Not 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 left on his face. As it happened, I saw the emptiness fade away. It was replaced by something that resembled fear … something that made my bones ache, my lungs ceased to work. 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, gasping for breath, sobbing into my palms…but it was as though I wasn’t there. Everybody continued to gaze with healing hearts upon his frame.

Except the woman clutching a fistful of her own skirt, who sat away in the corner and wept.

The End

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