The Little Girl With Grown Up Eyes.
*Based on the lyric ʻCondemnationʼ by Depeche Mode. Lyrics are in italics*
Condemnation – the act of condemning - that was what she offered me the first time we met online, in the first conversation we had. She didn't realise it, she didn't mean to offer it, but she did all the same. And I accepted it without the realisation of what I was accepting, I was open to it, I wanted it, I longed for it.
Tried - thoroughly tested and proved to be good or trustworthy – which was what I thought I had achieved through the question and answer sessions we undertook. The act of getting to know one another through formalities, and a desire to know more.
But now on this autumn day with the sun shedding it's golden light through a nearby window, I stand... I stand here... here on the stand, with the judge looking at me sternly over the top of his glasses, and I try to find my voice.
The court usher turns to me passing me the book, the holy bible, and I scan the room looking at all the faces, of which some are friends but in the main they are strangers, and for a moment I am lost, drowning in waves of the stiffness of authority and the stuffiness of procedure.
The usher coughs dragging my attention back to him, and with the book in my hand, I watch his mouth as I listen to his words, 'Do you swear that the evidence you shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?'
I pause for a moment, showing hesitation, longing to dissolve before their eyes. I look to the usher once more and see his waiting eyes, I stand straight, and with a loud and clear voice and truth on my side, I say 'I do.'
Accusations - the act of accusing or the state of being accused – that is what I am faced with, as the prosecution lawyer prepares himself to stand and perform for his audience. His questions steeped in double meanings, rephrased a hundred different ways, hoping he will trip me up, expose a truth that might not have really been there in the first place.
Lies - something used to deceive or give a wrong impression - I remember them all and they echo in my head, bouncing of the walls like a rubber ball. I try to separate them from the truth, but they are too deeply embedded and they make me stammer, pause for thought as I give my answers.
And I can see it in the eyes of those twelve good men and women, who sit before me with their attention only on me. I long for them to see the truth, for them to understand, that my intentions were right and true, and that those truths have been tainted by her falsehoods. They have questions of their own, of course they do, and I can see their reason for doubt but… But it's okay I tell myself, I am prepared for this. I will stand here and say to you my judge and jury 'hand me my sentence', and then as I turn to look into the eyes of my accusers, I will say to them ‘I'll show no repentance, cause when you lock me away, behind those thick damp grey walls, I'll suffer with pride’.
As the prosecutor returns to his chair and my solicitor rises from hers, her beauty and elegance attracting the admiring glances from the male members of the jury and gallery, my attention is caught by a small round glimmering light dancing in my eye. I turn towards it and see that it is a watch face, caught in the shuffling beams of the late afternoon sunlight. I trace the arm that it hangs upon, along and up to the shoulder, and then into the face of her parents.
'If for honesty...' my solicitor begins as her words drift into the silence, for I have words of my own right now, and they are between you and me, you her parents, and me the one you accuse.
'You want apologies, don't you? You want me to take the blame, and keep from staining the image of your little girl? Well I am sorry to say,' I pause looking down to watch a fly crawl aimlessly across my trouser leg, before looking back up again, 'I don't sympathize.'
Their stare becomes more intense, more direct, as if we are the only people in the room, and I don’t look away, I have no shame.
‘You see,’ I continue, ‘if for kindness, you substitute blindness, then you are fools. I know that is harsh to say, but I am not the only fool in this courtroom, I am not the only fool in the garden of pretence and ignorance, the playground of dishonesty and deception, and you should both be standing here and be judged just as I am. And all I can say is please open your eyes, for she is not the little angel you’d like to think of her as.'
They look away, breaking the connection, and I return my attention to my solicitor, who waits upon my answer to her lost question.
Condemnation - pronouncing as wrong or morally culpable – at least that was how it was spelt out to me when they first arrived. I stood there helpless as I watch them remove, bag and tag my computer, mobile phone, digital camera, hard-drives and pre-recorded CDs and DVDs. I tried to protest, but they refused to listen. It was their job, it was what they had to do, and all I could do was sit there and drink tea.
Why? - For what reason, purpose, or cause? - Those were the question I asked myself regarding the position I was in, voicing them out loud to the empty ears, not wanting to understand, not wanting to sit and discuss. I explained my questions, rephrased them hoping to ignite a conversation, but the empty dismissive ears just carried on packing.
I looked out of the patio window, the early morning sun tipping the tops of the trees and thought about the events leading to this day. I suppose I could liken it to a Shakespearian 'Romeo and Juliet' scenario, but that wouldn't be right, not in most people's eyes. They would think me weird, maybe slightly deranged. They would imagine me sat in my stained underpants, typing messages to the young and scantily clad, on a soiled dirty keyboard. Maybe I would carefully compose using prose, or lyrics, or quotes, or poetry. Yeah poetry that would be perfect, using lines like 'But it was my duty'…. no no deeper than that… 'Because it was my duty'… no no more abstract, 'Because my duty,' yeah, 'Because my duty was to... ' I imagined the words written on the dew coated glass, the surrounding droplets running down, their trails interweaving with the letters. 'Because my duty was to beauty,' yeah, but a little simpler, 'Was always to beauty.'
I smile, because it was all this, not the underpants and dirty keyboard, but it was the poetry. But instead of Shakespeare’s 'Romeo and Juliet', it was more like Vladimir Nabokov, 'Lolita' and I was Humbert Humbert. She may not have been as young, but she had the same allure, that same fragility, that same sweet and innocent look, she was my Dolores Haze. And that was my crime, falling in love with her.
Feel elation - to have a physical or emotional sensation of euphoria – I remember that. Waking up of a morning, checking my phone, reading your 'good morning' text. Then once showered and breakfasted, I would turn on the laptop, and whilst I job hunted and kept up with various connections, I waited for you first mail of the day.
High - slightly and pleasantly intoxicated with joyfulness – I remember that too. You were like my drug, and like an addict I needed a fix day-by-day. Once your first mail arrived in my inbox, I would reply eagerly, hoping you were in a position to indulge in conversation. Love, life, hopes and dreams, we discussed them all and in great detail. Living our lives as victims and slaves of the emotions of the hearts.
Every time it's just the same, I place it under repair, take the time to allow it heal, and believe with lessons learnt I can feel the confidence, to know I can trust this, and go in search of fulfilment. But when the truths were laid bare, I stood there naked and alone, my broken, scared heart in my hands, dripping blood, the hot warm fluid seeping between my fingers and drip, drip, drip to the floor. Is it some... fix of injustice, some curse upon my life, that I should suffer time after time.
I watch as the jury file back into the courtroom, and one by one they take their positions, the rumble of their movements building to a crescendo before falling into a soft silence. I glance at my Lolita, and notice that stripped of technology, of the tools that allow her to live her double life, she is just a shy little girl, who would rather hide in the shadows watching, than stand in the light and perform.
I watch her for a moment, maybe longer than I should, but no-one seem to notice, and as if she knew that I am watching her, her silent stare makes a double-take before stealing a glance at me. She looks away as if slightly embarrassed, and then she glances back at me for a second time, only this time she doesn't look away.
I remember our last message swap via email, how you promised everything would be perfect, how you guaranteed you would come, how you promised that there would be no trouble, and that you were ready to become a woman. Signing of with 'I genuinely believe we will be together forever. My future fiancée, husband, and father to my... I mean OUR children, my lover and soul mate. I love you, te amo j'taime, ich liebe dich. And I believed you.
But now I look at you, with a quick glance to the jury to try and guide their attention over, and I think to myself that if you see purity, that virginal existence you speak of, even boast of, if you see it as...as immaturity, that sweetness and light, yellow ducks at bath time, gothic fairy stories, and Disney films, well it's no surprise we are where we are.
The hammer falls and a deathly silence fills the room, drawing my attention back to the matter in hand. I look to the judge, who places the hammer down with a quieter clunk, and then turns to the jury.
'Has the jury come to a decision?'
The foreman stands, and with equal seriousness within his voice says 'Yes we have, your honour.'
I scan their faces one by one, young and old, male and female, black and white, and each turns to me, with no expression upon their face, like clones of one another.
Then in a silent cry, I plead with them. I ask them to listen, even though I don't even know if they can hear me or what they may have decided. I say please my friends, my fellow human beings, if for kindness, if for the desire to believe in her, if for the want to be convinced that I am someone I tell you I am not, if for all these things and probably more, if you substitute blindness, then can I beg you, plead with you, appeal to you, implore you, please open your eyes. Please, please open your eyes.
'And in the case of Mr Masters verses the crown, how do you find him?'
The foremen looks over to me, then to my Lolita, then her parents, then to the judge and then back to me.