A/N: So this was an assignment for English class. We were given three first-sentences to choose from. Well, there's nothing else to say really. I hope you like this! :)
I Don't Believe in Wishing Stars
By: Grace Ding
He closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. The way he did it made it seem so damn easy. The way he confidently strode forward, under thousands of unblinking and disparaging eyes, to accept his death. You would've thought he was entering the grocery and I, as his mother, knew for certain that I would never be as dauntless as he was.
And yet, when the trumpet sounded the start of the fanfare, when my son was lifted into the shackles connected to the back wall, and when the Law Enforcer diligently slid four bullets into his revolver, I jumped up and before I could process what I was doing, screamed out loud.
In the eerie silence that followed, it gradually dawned on me that I had done it. Me. I had done it. I had, for the first time in decades, defied openly against the Law. And in that instant, I knew there was no turning back, not right then, not ever.
So with quivering legs, I stumbled down the uneven stairs of the old stadium and slowly, I reached the Killing Platform. The dubbed name, let me assure you, is not just an over exaggeration given in a wild state of anger or distaste. It really is an understatement because anyone who dares to break the Law, no matter how minor the offense, is placed in the shackles of the Town Stadium, body forming a cross, and shot three times, first on the waist and next on each shoulder, witnessed by the entire town. And right now, that person in question is my son. My son. No one can so much as lift a finger at my son and expect to get away with it.
As I stood facing the endless rows of bemused and somewhat accusing faces, I had to take a deep breath before speaking, heart palpitating and fingers trembling.
"My name is Jane Johnson and this," I pointed at my son, who to my utter bafflement, scowled at me, "is my son James. He has been given a death sentence all because he has stolen a loaf of bread." I gazed into the eyes of the onlookers but hard as I try, I could not detect any reassuring change in their posture or expression. I could not tell whether they, like me, grasped the absurdity of the Law and how preposterous everything was. But nevertheless, I continued, determined to get my point across. "This is wrong."
Tears prickled in my eyes but I hurriedly blinked them away as the Law Enforcer who was aiming at my son turned towards me. With an unapologetic and lop-sided grin, he exclaimed, quite atrociously and abhorrently, dare I say, "Ma'am, you know the proceedings of the Law. Now if you don't mind," He turned back towards my son and raised his revolver again.
Promptly, I leapt forward and plucked it out of his hands with reflexes I never knew I was blessed with. And imagine my surprise when as if by impulse, I turned the revolver around, shoved it into the Law Enforcer's skull and pressed the trigger. If I were to cogitate on it later, I guess I would've called it instinct. After all, it was my son.
Then, of course, the crowd drew a collective gasp, but ignoring them completely, I walked towards my son, gently caressing his arm as I reached him. To my confusion though, he instantly recoiled and hissed at me menacingly, "What are you doing, mom? I am a thief." After shaking his head at me with blatant dissatisfaction, he smiled at the crowd, face red with shame. Then, he banged his head on the wall three times consecutively, so hard that I felt the ground shake beneath me. And then, all that was left of him for me to caress was his pale blue lifeless cheek, hanging limp from his body like a fallen leaf from an ancient tree.
A second later, I heard the audience clap and cheer. But I knew, it was for my son. Not for me, never for me, not even when I had mustered up all the courage I had and threw my life away for my only son. The one that I still loved unconditionally, despite the fact he had discredited my affection for him as a mere embarrassment. Nope, as far as they and the government were concerned, I was just a small obstruction of justice, like a flat tire, waiting in line to be fixed.
Later that day, after my 10-minute trial in which I wasn't even given the privilege to be present at, I walked through the same door as my son had only a few hours ago. But unlike him, I did not stride confidently to the shackles. My head was bowed and I was pushed, dragged and forced into the cuffs. As I stayed there, I looked up at the night sky, and searched for a shooting star. But instantaneously, I reminded myself, I don't believe in wishing stars.
But when the first bullet entered my waist and I felt my life slowly leaving me, I saw in the corner of my eye, the shadow of a dark-haired girl, probably only a teenager. And although it was already dark, I saw her face clearly – it was masked with disgust. But unlike all the others, it wasn't disgust for me; it was instead for what they were doing to me.
When the second bullet pierced my right shoulder, I screamed in pain but then willed myself to look up towards the beautiful night sky. My eyes burned against the slightly chilly autumn air but nevertheless, I found a shooting star. The trail it left behind was gleaming brightly, communicating silently that unlike me, its life was still long; it was still capable of lighting up the darkness of the world.
As the final bullet whizzed past my eyes, I stared at the star and wished against it that in a few years, the dark-haired girl with the brown eyes would be the one to stand up and recognize how ludicrous the Laws of this town were. That she would be the one to try and stop this madness in this messed-up world, hopefully in a better and more effective way than I had.
I felt the impact of the third bullet throwing me against the partially scraped wall.
And then, as I felt my eyes shut for the final time, I inked the bitterness of my last breath on this cruel world permanently into my now stationary heart.