"It was an accident," I whisper softly to you through the tears, "but people who hurt others like that don't deserve to live."

We had always protected each other. From the first day that you tried to save me from him, I always knew we would take care of one another. That first time when your fists beat against his body, twice the size of yours, as his fists beat against mine. You didn't stop him that time. But later you would.

"It was an accident," you mumbled into my shoulder as they carried his lifeless body away.

"It's ok," I replied as I wrapped my arms tightly around you, "People who hurt others like that don't deserve to live."

I remember the second accident. You were in love. We all thought you were perfect together. But you discovered her with someone else, and neither of them made it home that night. I understood; you were angry, and you didn't mean to. It was an accident. I looked after you then. I told everyone what a good person you were, that you never missed a birthday, that it was all a mistake. You couldn't have done it. I believed you. They believed me. We looked after each other, because sometimes accidents happen.

Years went by, and though we weren't beside each other anymore, we always belonged to each other. So when I saw you on the news, swarmed by insects with microphones, bombarded by flying accusations, my world fell apart. I knew you needed me to protect you again. They needed to hear from someone who knew you. You would never do the horrible things they accused you of. I remember sitting in the chair in the courtroom, surrounded by the enemy. They brought out the pictures, the crimes they said you did. And I told them you weren't capable of it. They asked about him, about the first accident. And I told them, you were only guilty of protecting me. But for the first time in my life, I didn't know if my words would be enough. I could see the uncertainty in their eyes flashing out at me like a lighthouse beacon. I didn't know if I could save you from drowning this time.

When they let you out, when I saw you again without that orange jumpsuit, I cried for joy. I knew then that I could protect you from anything, from all the lies and the pain, from all those who wanted to see you destroyed. Nothing could hurt us when we were together.

Then you brought me out here today, for a beautiful picnic lunch, just like we used to do. You cut the sandwiches in triangles the way I always did, and we squeezed the orange juice together side by side.

"I have to thank you for saving me," you say, looking searchingly at me. "There was a small part of me that was afraid you might not understand. I know better now, but there was a chance that you would see me as they did."

"I understand," I say softly. "You were always a little accident-prone."

"Mama," you pull my hand gently away from the juicer, "maybe you missed the point. They weren't accidents."

My eyes widen, my breath quickens, and I turn back to making the juice, vigorously crushing the fruit, not caring or stopping when I rip right through the peel.

"That's not true. Don't lie to me."

"I would never lie to you. These girls, they lied and cheated and stole. They hurt other people."

I drop the orange. Images flash through my mind, the photos from the trials, the portraits of calmness you displayed through the entire ordeal. Seven girls. Gone because of you.

"You remember what you told me the day I saved you from him, right? 'Those who hurt others like that don't deserve to live.' They didn't deserve to live." You look at me pleadingly, silently asking for understanding.

"They weren't monsters the way he was."

Those who hurt others like that don't deserve to live.

"You didn't know them."

"Neither did you!" My pulse starts racing, my blood pounding relentlessly against my eardrums.

Those who hurt others like that don't deserve to live.

"I knew enough. This is what you taught me! You are why I did it!"

I can't breathe. I can't believe what you are telling me. I won't believe it. It's too horrible.

"Tell me they were all accidents," I beg through ragged breaths. "They had to be accidents!"

I can see the hurt in your eyes.

"You said…you said…" you falter, unable to get the words out, "Those who…"

It was just too many. Too many accidents. How many accidents would you ask me to protect you from? I would protect you until the end of time. But who would protect others from you?

"Who hurt others like that don't deserve to live," I finish, as I grab the knife and plunge it into the side of your neck. Your surprised eyes stare at me hauntingly, and you fall back into my lap, my arms cradling your neck.

"Mama," you call out, just like you used to when I cradled you like this. Your face is wet from my tears, and I try to wipe them away. I make blood smears instead.

"I'm sorry," I cry, rocking you in my arms as I watch the light in your face fade away, "It was an accident….it was an accident."