Justice? (250-word fiction)

Goldilocks was our favourite bedtime story when we were kids. In that age of schoolyard bullies, I guess we liked the idea that thieves would ultimately get their comeuppance – that you couldn’t just walk into someone’s home and break their favourite chair and eat all of their porridge without consequences. No: you would be caught out. You would have to answer for your actions. Papa Bear would be stern and enraged, Mama Bear would shout, “for shame!”, Baby Bear would cry his eyes out, and you would be struck by the deepest remorse.

You certainly wouldn’t smirk and whisper some disparaging remark to your lawyer when the victim impact statement was read out, that’s for sure.

There was something so appealing about Goldilocks, and all the other stories we heard as kids. They were simple. They were just. They led us to believe that wrongdoers would be forced to atone, while the innocent would be vindicated. Always.

Not today.

I glance at Caroline. Her face is pinched, her eyes stare blankly out the car window: seeing what’s going on, of course – the media frenzy is in full swing, and it’ll be even worse when we get to the courthouse – but not taking anything in, not really.

My sister.

I don’t know how she can be so brave, taking her seat on the stand day after day and spelling out exactly what happened, and what she lost – what we all lost – that night. I couldn’t do it. I can’t even imagine it.


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