Guilty as Charged

Today’s flash fiction is courtesy of this week’s Flash!Friday prompt.

First Woman Jury, Los Angeles, Nov 1911. PD photo by Library of Congress

On the third day of deliberations, a tray of bagels appeared on the conference table. A dozen chairs surrounded the table, which, but for a speaker phone, looked like a quotidian conference room in any nondescript office building in suburban America. We were not allowed phones or communication with the outside world. We were prisoners of the Government, trapped until we arrived at a verdict. Shuttled between the courtroom and the hotel, shielded from both the consumption and production of news.

We had heard two grueling weeks of evidence. Weeks of an egotistical prosecutor and an unpolished defense attorney attempting to sway my immobile opinion. Weeks when my fingers itched for my piano. Weeks when my arms yearned to hug my children. Weeks when life was on hold.

When we had started deliberations, we discussed the shoes she was wearing, the blood stains on the carpet, the fingerprints on the counter. Now finished discussing the evidence, we were a hung jury, with seven saying the accused was guilty, five declaring her innocence. Twelve hungry women who wanted this ordeal to end. My bagels, thank God, did the trick. Convicting the innocent accused saved me from the prisoner’s life I deserved.

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