Jenna Shields had not felt this liberated for a very long time. She remembered joyfully sitting next to her mother on the roller coaster about eight years back. She was extremely happy. She was about thirteen and it was the best day she ever had. The anticipation of joy, heightened by thrill and fear had made her cling to her mom as if she would never let her go.
Today, she was in a courtroom filled with total strangers who waited expectantly for the commencement of the proceedings on Adrian Shields’ murder trial; Jenna had killed her father. The prosecutor had pleaded her guilty of manslaughter while the defense lawyer was ready with his self-defense arguments.
Silently, Jenna felt the familiar excitement in the pit of her stomach now. She looked at the empty seat next to her where her mother would have sat.
There is an anxious buzz in the courtroom.
“Please maintain order in the courtroom,” cried the judge pounding her gavel. “Ms. Shields, is there anything you would like to say before we begin?”
Nevertheless, Jenna was not listening. She was still stuck on that night.
Six months back, everything was normal for Jenna. Her family seemed as perfect as those magazine ads, which show the family members sporting broad smiles, as if they had not a care in the world.
One evening, Jenna was napping in her room when her phone vibrated under her pillow. She did not check to see who it was; she had a hunch that it was her mother.
“Mom must have pressed the speed dial by mistake,” Jenna thought, pushing the call button.
Before she could say anything, she heard her mother’s muffled cries for help sinking under her father’s raging voice. As she ran down, the clanging of the utensils told her to go look in the kitchen.
What she saw next appalled Jenna. Her impression of the picture perfect family came crashing down as she saw her father firmly grasping her mother by her neck, forcing her head down on the lit burner.
How was it even possible? Jenna’s mind was racing. She had never seen her parents argue on anything, let alone fight. Her mother had always happily complied with her father and they loved each other. So, why was her father choking her burnt, bruised and bleeding mother? Hers was supposed to be picture perfect family!
“Is there anything you want to say in your defense, Ms. Shields?” a heavy voice brought Jenna back to the present.
The room suddenly went quiet as she nodded her head.
“I killed a man,” said Jenna, looking straight in the judge’s eyes. “I did what seemed the right thing to do. I chose the best from two right choices and the better from two wrong ones.”
Writing order: Ray Stone, Gabrielle Burt, Donna McT, Ken Burns, Suraya, Roseyn, Griffin, AzadehN, Ilieana Bosu