Battle of the Belts: My Pain

Battle of the Belts: My Pain

Lauren Stallworth, Editor

As I stand in court, I see him normally for the first time. Well, his new normal I suppose; in chains and orange clothes, held by the elbow. The first time I saw him he was coming towards me at 90 miles an hour. The second time I saw him was on the news, his wanted picture, for a hit and run flashing on the screen of a TV, of which I observed from a hospital bed in the ICU. The third time I saw him was when he was caught and brought in for questioning, smirking as his lawyer defended him. But now, he doesn’t look smug and cocky. Now, he’s not so clever. Now, he’s facing life in prison. As the judge talks, the man weeps, his head hung and shoulders low. Everything asked ends in the same question: “why?”. And all his responses are the same: “I’m so sorry”. Sorry. He’s so sorry. Sorry. His tearful expressions and pitiful pleas only anger me. I’m shaking, my fists clenched so tightly that my knuckles turn white. Pictures flash on the screen behind the man on the stand. Blood. My smashed car. A baby carrier. A ball cap. Sorry, he’s so sorry. As the screen changes, my breathing is labored by emotion. The court sees the pictures as evidence, proof that shows his blatant recklessness. But for me, it is a painful reminder of the night my worst nightmare because of reality. My boyfriend is holding me so incredibly tight, but I hardly feel him. They think I’m mourning, every one of them. But I’m not in grief. I’m angry. I want this man to hurt like he hurt me. I want him to see their faces every day while he sits behind a cell door.
When I look at the jury, I see potential. Potential for my justice. Sorry. He’s so sorry. Yet sorry won’t bring back my brother, barely 18. Sorry, won’t bring back my sister, an infant I held in my arms that morning. Sorry isn’t going to take my mother out of the grief that confines her to bed. Sorry won’t stop the flashbacks I have, the moments where I swear I’m still crawling towards their lifeless bodies. Sorry, he’s so sorry.

During his begging, he goes on and on about the mistakes he made that night. He should’ve called an Uber. He should’ve stayed with us. He should’ve called for help. He should’ve been the one to die, he says. But he’s not the one who’s dead, is he? No, the ones who are dead are my siblings, my best friends in life. I heard once that the closest you’ll ever be with someone in this world is your siblings. Oh, how I never understood how true that really was until they were gone.

The jury starts to look moved by his testimony, but I know it’s just an act. They know his true cruelty. My heartbeat gets faster, my thoughts race.

They’re ready to deliberate. The prosecutor comes up to us and tells my boyfriend to take me home. He tells him that I’m exhausted, that he can see it in my eyes. The deliberation will take hours, he says. But I do not move. I will not move, for them, who can never move again. My boyfriend coaxes me, tells me that we’ll just rest for a little. I will not move. I will not rest. I shake my head and lean back on the bench. I sit there in silence, no tears left to shed. This is it. This is how Lily and David will be avenged. To see this man in chains, led off to a life in prison, to feel at least a fraction of the pain he’s caused. This is what I want. I want to make him hurt, cry, feel the pain. I want him to feel my pain. The jury is done, and they come back into the room. The man I will only address as a killer re-enters the room. Sorry, he’s so sorry. He’s started his meaningless defense again “I should have taken an Uber home”, that was his mistake, he says. He says he simply panicked when he drove off, that he didn’t think my baby sister’s body was capable of healing. He says he never should have left her lying in the road. He concludes, with a statement that boils my blood. I tense up. My boyfriend is practically holding me down in the seat. “ I wish she would have seen me, maybe swerved”. Swerve. You wanted me to swerve? How could I when you were going the wrong way down I-75 at 90 miles an hour. Where more could I have gone? We were already pinned against the concrete wall. My hands go numb, all the blood in my head drains.

A man now walks up and hands the judge a paper. The judge reads it and nods. Here is my justice. I’m waiting. Say it, just say it, say “Guilty of first-degree voluntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crime, driving under the influence. Sentenced to life in prison…”
Say it, say it.

“And the verdict is…”.

Say it. Say it.

But the judge pauses.

He sighs and looks at me. What is that look? Why is he giving me that look?

“The Jury has found the defendant’s remorse moving, and believes it was an honest mistake. Therefore, the sentence is reduced to involuntary Manslaughter, and the defendant will only serve a revoked license, 6 months in jail, and probation for two years”

I scream.

My boyfriend clutches me, but I’m pulling away, tearing with everything I have in me. He’s trying to grab me, but I’m too fast. Too angry. I jump over the door that blocks me from the murderer, my 5’2” body smacking the ground. I’m already back up within seconds. No one has moved, the bailiff is still too shocked. “YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS” I scream. I grab his suit and am practically tearing it. “YOU KILLED THEM. YOU KILLED THEM” I yell, right in the man’s face. The bailiff is running. I’m punching the killer, screaming. “YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE DEAD. YOU RUINED MY LIFE, YOU DISGUSTING EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN”, My boyfriend is behind me grabbing my shoulders, trying to pry me off before the officers do. “I HATE YOU” I scream. I hate you. His nose is bleeding. He just cries. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, “he says. Sorry. He’s sorry. The bailiff is finally between us as my boyfriend hauls me off the floor, still kicking and screaming. When we’re out of the room, I finally break down. Every bit of strength in me collapses. “He deserved more” I cry. “They deserved more than this”. He holds me, but it is no comfort. I will never have comfort as long as I live. My mother will never have comfort. My school will never have comfort. Their souls are long gone, taking my heart with them. But the killer is not. He still roams free, still breathes still gets to smile, to see rainbows after it storms, to cheer for the touchdown on TV, to get to stand on mountain tops and pose for pictures, smiling. I don’t even have those things. I have nothing.

Every breath he breathes is stolen from them. And every moment he lives a normal life is my justice destroyed. I have nothing. He has everything that made me, me. All that is left to bear is my pain.