Pieces of my world

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Guilty as charged

My favourite place to think is in the bathtub. So this morning, as I lounged in our unfashionable avocado green bath, my curves immersed in the rapidly cooling water, my thoughts drifted…

The court room was stifling. The early summer heat formed an oppressive blanket beneath which the inhabitants of the room sweltered uncomfortably. My nervous gaze flittered over the small dark room, the flick of my pulse beating a rapid tattoo at the base of my neck. The Jury filed in one by one. With every laden footstep that clacked on the dark herringbone floor, the tension in my spine notched up in increments. This was it, then.

I was sat in the witness box, utterly exposed. I could see everyone. And in turn, everyone could see me. They scrutinised me as you would a lowly bug beneath a magnifying glass. They scrutinised my worn face, grey with fatigue (I had spent the previous night tossing and turning in my cell. My welcoming, accommodating room mate had borne in mind the fact that my trial was due to take place the following day and had informed me that if I didn’t lie still, there would be no option but to strangle me mercilessly. No, actually, that’s an embellishment. Her actual words were: if you make any more goddamned creaks on that flipping matress…her voice trailing off suggestively at the end. I’d almost expected her to add I’ll grind your bones to make my bread). They scrutinised my outfit, once smart, now clingingly limply to my skin, salty from perspiration. They scrutinised my posture, the clasped hands, white knuckled, in my lap. Yes, I was utterly exposed.

Switching off from the administrative jargon being bandied around, I contemplated my fate. “Please, please, PLEASE don’t let them find me guilty,” I pleaded with God. “I’ll do anything. ANYTHING! I’ll be good…return my library books on time…do the washing up every night…I’ll even iron my own shirts and learn how to be more tidy! It’ll be an uphill struggle, but I’ll do anything, if only I’m found not guilty!” I toyed with a lock of hair as my personality and demeanor were discussed. “They always talk about me, through me, over me, never to me”, I thought, resentfully. “What is the point of me being here? Oh, of course, to listen to my own relatives do me in.” It had astounded me how quick my family, friends and even distant relatives had been to condemn me. “Oh, yeah. She always was an odd, introverted little thing. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that she’s turned out the way she has, no siree”, one bug eyed distant “relative” had testified, eager to cash in on the attention the trial had brought. “Yeah, thanks a lot,” I had inwardly simmered. “Well, there’s another one to scratch off my Christmas card list.”

I snapped abruptly out of my reverie as a commotion erupted in the court room. “Order! ORDER!” The judge, self importantly attired in white wig and black gown, banged her gavel. The defendant and prosecutor had thrown rules, civilised behaviour and legalese jargon out of the window and had settled for good old wrestling, their hands wrapped around one anothers’ necks. Chaos ensued. The jury watched avidly, the public taking sides and cheering on their particular faction. As the prosecutor flung himself at the defendant, the pair toppled onto the bench. The two intertwined forms slid across the polished wood, sending papers and stationery alike flying, landing with a resounding “thunk” on the floor on the other side. There was a stunned silence. Then, “I’m going to gouge out your eyes for that!” The defendant growled, launching himself with renewed vigour at the prosecutor. “You actually made me break a nail!!”

“Stop it! Just stop it!” The judge shrieked, whacking her gavel ina frenzy. “Right- THAT’S IT. You’ve driven me to this! DON’T MAKE ME PUT YOU ON THE NAUGHTY STEP!” The judge threatened, a la SuperNanny. The two stopped, their faces guilty turned upwards. “You-” she pointed to the defendant “- in that corner!” “You- in the other!” Glaring balefully at one another, the two obeyed, tidying their mussed hair and attempting to straighten their once pristine, now crumpled, suits as they did so. “Lawyers…” The judge muttered under her breath.

“Right. Jury- verdict please!” The doom laden words hung in a pregnant atmosphere. “Not guilty, not guilty, not guilty,” I prayed fervently. My palms sweaty with fear, I vainly tried to swallow past the lump congealed in my throat.


I was stunned; frozen; numb. “Then I hereby find you guilty of grievously spending too much time on the computer. You are sentenced to five years at a correctional institute for techno related crimes.” I was informed. “Do you have anything to add?” For a moment, I was speechless. Then the words tumbled out of my mouth in a flood. “Why? How can this be happening to me? I didn’t do anything! Sure, I went on the internet…played games…visited message boards, but-but- well, everyone does that!”

“You have no concept of the extent of your crimes!” The Judge reprimanded heavily. “You have prevented your own family from having full access to the computer! You have sacrificed homework for the lures of the blue screen! If you cannot show restraint, then we have no option but to restrain you!” Out of my peripheral vision, I saw two guards approaching. One on either side, they grabbed hold of my upper arms, while I, like a reticent toddler attempting to avoid the confines of their trolley, dug my heels in. “Noooo! No!” I cawed. “You can’t DO this!” As I twisted against the burly guards’ iron grip, the judge frowned at me disapprovingly. The public muttered among themselves “fancy that, she doesn’t even think she’s done anything worng…” But worse was the hostile stare of my family and friends. “You deprived us. While we wanted to research family history…watch Harry Potter…play our own games, you denied us, O’ wretched computer hogger!” With their eyes they accused me. And so, led to the maximum security prison van by the scruff of my neck, I was left to contemplate the dismal prospect of five years stretching before me, as if for all eternity, without the internet. How could it possibly get worse?

I’m sure that most people, sinking into their bathtubs, have fantasies of tanned hunky masseurs. Of love gods soaping them down. That they’re not actually floating in bathwater, but in their mind are outstretched in the Caribbean sea, the warm clear tide lapping at their tanned skin. Instead, I transported myself to the realms of courtrooms, “justice” and a scene akin to those broadcast on “Law and Order”. My mother never needed more proof that I am, indeed, a truly weird child.


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