Georgia Rice’s article “teases out the relationship between mercy, forgiveness, compassion and freedom”, said the judges. “This is a strong creative writing piece which demonstrates a mature understanding of compassion.”
BY Georgia Rice
Her world rocked with the crack of a gun. One sound. That’s all it took for her life to come crashing down around her. One moment. One thoughtless twitch of a finger against metal turned the world grey with anguish, pain and hatred. All for a bullet. All for the damned chair.
Standing, or rather, sitting before a judge some 25 years later, Adalyn didn’t feel as uncertain as one might expect to be when testifying against the man who had taken so much from her. The man who had such a profound impact on her life ever since she was a starry-eyed 24-year-old. The man, a perfect stranger, whom she’d never held a conversation with, but thought of almost every day.
Perfect stranger my ass! Adalyn thought, twirling a pen between her fingers out of habit. After all, she did comb up every morsel of information the police, newspapers and time alone could grant her. She knew that Lucas Williams was 38 when he took her legs. She knew that he’d had two daughters – Lola and Alysha, aged 16 and 12.
She knew that he had been recently divorced and in debt. In fact, Adalyn knew almost everything publicly available about him. She had even memorised his home phone number. Adalyn had been obsessive in her hunt to find out who he was, to understand why he did what he did, why she should hate him.
And she did. Oh-boy, she did. In the beginning, a fire in her gut blazed so strong it almost burnt away everything that had once been her, leaving only the charred remains of a broken young woman. Of the hatred that had consumed her.
It was a twisted and bumpy road full of arguments, tears and ruined relationships forged anew, but eventually, Adalyn learned to cope. She married the love of her life, Zac Davis. The one who had been with her that day, and every day after, dragging her through the funk she’d fallen into by her heart. Taking all her spiteful words and distrust with a grain of salt, and, in the end, she had pushed herself down the aisle. Pushed all the love and happiness she held, pushed her heart into the hands of the man that had held it all along.
Glancing at him now, 24 years after their union, she felt every ounce of love that had ever been between them. The light in his eyes spoke volumes.
The judge cleared his throat, pulling her attention from the stands.
“Adalyn Davis, you have been called forth to testify against one, Lucas Williams. If you don’t provide adequate evidence, the accused will be released into a five-year parole period.”
Adalyn’s gaze flicked to the now 63-year-old man sitting at the accused table. His gaze flicked up to hers but darted away just as quickly. He thought he knew what she was going to do. Knew that he was going back to prison for his crimes. To waste away for the rest of his days.
She swept the room, eyes coming to rest on his two daughters. They were clutching each other’s hands so hard their knuckles were as pale as the moon. Hoping. For days – years even, Adalyn had thought about this moment. What would she say? How would she feel? Relieved or regretful or even spiteful? It churned within her constantly. Slithers of the abhorrence that had plagued her so many years ago bubbled to the surface, tightening her features and curling her fingers.
Subconsciously, Adalyn knew she had made the decision years ago. Knew that she was over letting this rule her days, tarnish the moments she held dearest. And she knew. She knew she had made the right choice. She just didn’t know if the people around her would understand.
One more glimpse at the withered man who had caused her so much pain only solidified Adalyn’s resolve.
The judge cleared his throat for the second time in as many minutes.
“Let him go,” she breathed.
“What?” her lawyer questioned, stunned.
“Adalyn? What are you doing?” her father stood up.
Voices melted together in uproar and Adalyn’s heart pounded so hard she thought it would beat right up and out her throat. Spilling forth all the emotions she felt for the world to see, to understand.
“Order!” the sound of the judge’s gavel reverberated through the room with a defining finality.
“Mrs Davis has spoken,” he said in a voice of steel. “Mr Lucas Williams, the terms of your parole will be discussed in private. This jury is adjourned.”
“Mr Williams. I suggest…”
“I need to know,” the withered old man interrupted his lawyer with tears in his eyes. “After everything. Why?”
He was hurried from the room before she could open her mouth.
Once they had left the courtroom, Adalyn’s father whirled to face her. Outrage marring his usually placid face.
“Adalyn? Why would you let him go? That man deserved to rot in hell for what he did to you.”
“And he has,” Adalyn replied, grabbing the rings around the wheels of her chair to stop it. “He spent 25 years rotting in hell.”
“He took your legs. He took your life.” He tried to reason.
Adalyn’s face twisted in distaste. “If you truly believe that, then you’re as blind as the Judas.”
Her father was stunned into silence, mouth opening and closing like a fish.
“He took my legs, but in the act, he didn’t take my life, he took his own,” Adalyn explained, adamant on making him understand. “Twenty-five years. I may have been trapped in this chair.”
Zac’s hand squeezed her shoulder and she considered his eyes as she said: “But I had my family. He was locked away with no one, not even allowed a hug from the ones that love him.”
“Have you forgotten what he did to you?”
“I haven’t forgotten, only moved on. I made a life for myself despite everything and you would do well to remember that,” Adalyn said, moving down the hall, and into her new future, but not before one last call to what was behind her.
“He’s no longer a threat to anyone, least of all me. I’ve come to terms with what happened and so should you.”
This article was awarded second place in The Good Oil 2017 Young Writers’ Award, secondary student Years 7 to 9 category.