Innocent

. . .

I stand in the eerily silent courtroom—my face neutral and my hand upon the bible. This is the last place I really want to be, but I've committed too many petty crimes. Alas, I'm apparently never telling the truth. Yes, I steal gum, so I'm incapable of telling the truth. Of course I lashed out and killed my only family. I've always wanted to spend the rest of my life in jail. They have no evidence, of course; they just want me to slip.

The intimidating bailiff stands in front of me. "Do you swear to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" He glares at me as if I'm already a convicted felon.

Resisting all urges to flip the man off, I give him a solemn two word answer. "I do." Let the flames begin. I'm allowed into the stand, and I take a seat on the most uncomfortable chair ever. I stay completely still and keep my eyes on the exit sign across the room.

"Miss David, where were you the night of September fourteenth, two thousand and twelve?" A nasally voice asks me. The opposing side. My city-paid lawyer sits in his seat, playing a game on his phone, caring less if I end up in the slammer.

I sigh and lean back in my chair. "September fourteenth. I was arriving in Washington D.C."

. . .

Nervously, I walked out of Dulles Airport my duffel bag poised on my shoulder. My aunt wasn't expecting me, but I had to visit her—I needed to know about my past. About my father. It was only around noon when I exited, and the taxi line was about a mile long. Heaving my bag higher on my shoulder, I reluctantly set up camp at the end of the line and waited. And waited.

. . .

The prosecutor arches his eyebrow. "Did you have anybody to vouch for you being there? Any one you notified of you leaving Israel?" He doesn't know much about me—and I don't plan on letting him get to know me. If the only living family member was the one I was visiting, and I planned on surprising her—why the hell would I tell someone? I didn't make friends very easy.

"Oh yes, I told the whole country. It's not like I had family," I reply with tight-lipped sarcasm. I'll fight fire with fire if I have to. I'm not about to go to jail.

The man in front of me gave me a disapproving look. "Now is not the time for jokes, Miss David. But you saying this—it means you had the time to murder Gina Ranier before arriving at your hotel. I believe you didn't arrive until around five in the evening. Plenty of time to murder your aunt after your noontime arrival." His voice is cold and he thinks he knows it all. Just the kind of person I've always learned to hate. The type of person that is just like my father, who left my own mother to die.

Crossing my arms, I smirk. "Oh yes, after spending three hours in the taxi line and another two hours in this city traffic-I had time to murder her. She was across the city from my hotel for Pete's sake!" I cry. The people working here are really blaming me because of how my grandfather is some hoity-toity man high up in Israeli society. Racist jerks.

"A taxi ride does not take two hours," he rebuffs snidely.

Rolling my eyes, I purse my lips. "It does if you come into the country on a Friday."

. . .

"You, missy, picked the wrong day to come to America," my taxi driver told me, turning from the miles of traffic to face me. "Fridays are always traffic heavy; we could be here for hours."

I gave him a smile. "My aunt used to tell me she hated Fridays here—but I don't mind it. I like to think." It's true. The thinking time was always my favorite thing about being confined for hours.

The car started to move and the driver turned back to the road. "So what brings you to humid ol' D.C.?"

Picking at my nails, I kept my eyes down though he couldn't see me in the first place. "My mother died and I wanted to see my aunt. She's the last of my family." I wasn't going to mention my father who disappeared many years ago.

I glanced up and I could see the man up front nod. "Well, I hope everything for you goes well with your aunt. Maybe I'll see you around the city." His eyes appear in the rear-view mirror and I smile.

"I sure hope so."

. . .

The prosecutor's look is unbelieving, and he gives a short nod to the judge. "That is all."

My cheapo lawyer looks up from his phone and jumps up. "Miss David, is there any reason for you to want to kill Gina Raneir?" I can smell it now; he's setting me up for jail. I have no motive. They have no evidence. I lose.

"No, as I said before—she is—was my aunt. The last of my living family." I hate redundancy, and this court is going to drive me mad with their incapability of originality.

He nods and looks at the jury. "This girl is just facing the sad truth of entering the country at the wrong time. The prosecuting side has no evidence. She's just a teenager who was looking for family comfort." He folds his hands together. "That's all." He re-crosses the room, sits down and opens his phone again.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. My fate is being left in the hands of a jury who knows nothing about me. The last sliver of hope in my heart is dissipated as I'm led off the stand while the jury exits the room to decide my fate.

. . .

Four years ago was the last time I saw my aunt. She stayed in Israel after a fight with the one she'd developed a love for. She visited only for a day to talk with me and my mother. That morning I'd been up early doing something only God would remember and I turned in early—despite the fact I couldn't sleep. Later, when Gina thought I was asleep, she came into my room and sat on my bed. "No matter what happens to you, I'll always be there," she whispered as she brushed my hair from my face.

Those were the last words she told me and no matter what happens, I'll cherish them.

. . .

After they came from deliberation, the jury files back into their box. None of them make eye contact with me. Damn. The judge looks expectantly at the jury. "Your verdict?"

The man in charge steps forward. "We found Miss Dahlia David guilty of first degree manslaughter."

. . .

The jail cell is slams shut and a chill runs up my spine.

No matter what happens…