Anjali Deshmukh
 
 
 
Chance of Conviction 1
Read Part 2

I think it must have been a rich dusk that filtered through the windows onto the narrow pews. Knee-crushing pews, but they look malleable, all of that mahogany. Shining with the burnish of a recent polishing; it feels real smooth, almost like it's covered in grease.

She sat over there, just over there to the right of the aisle, and the sunlight at that time of day came right through to this spot, poking holes in her velvet black hair. They were bright holes, even through such black. She must have been visibly upset; her left hand hung limply out into the aisle, over the deep burgundy red of the carpet. The hopeless bend to her elbow was a lot like the curve of her neck, then. Not now. And she was looking down into her lap.

She was crying. It still seems like water's trickling out. She was crying pretty hysterically, puffy, blood shot eyes, streaks, wet hair clinging to her cheeks, shaking with invisible burdens on her shoulders, spasms, as though her ear drums might explode under the density of some mysterious hurt. But silently. With all that solid color from head to toe, muted tones, browns and earth colors, she's reserved and would never let strangers notice her so upset without putting up a fight at least.

There was no one around, but you never know when a soul might walk through the door. Reserved or afraid of gossip. So she must have been silent, letting her tears stream in a sheet down the side of her walls smoothened by water's wear.

But she wasn't alone. She was seated next to a very tall man whose knees were all entangled in the pew. They rubbed up against the seat pockets leaving lint marks, human sediment as abrasion. He must be used to slouching his shoulders from squeezing through doorframes in old spaces like these, or spaces made to look old in their compactness.

With all that reserve, she must have known him. Sopping tissue in hand, she was being eyed by her companion, who was uncomfortable, trying to lean over, resting his hand on his knees, running his hands through his hair, fidgeting. She wouldn't look him in the eyes, but he was trying to catch her attention The guy was as slouched as ever, leaning over to stare at his fingers lying in his lap. "Please, please, just talk to me," he must have said, only to be met with more silence.

Her eyelashes are stuck together. "I messed up, I fucked up, I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry," he said.

"You shouldn't curse here. You shouldn't curse period." Her words dove through tears.

"Ok, I'm sorry, I messed up, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. But I'll curse if it means that you'll talk to me."

More silence, and the colored shadows slid across the floor.

"This is a cliche, sitting here, listening to you apologize again. I feel a ike a fool."

"No, you're not a fool, you're forgiving, you're patient."

"How many times am I going to go through this?" She said, more to herself.

"No, listen to me, focus, just focus, look at me."

"It started ages ago, this thing, this betrayal, before I can even remember. The residue is just all over me." That explains the blue lint all over her hands, escape attempts from layers of past feeling. "I just can't get away from it." She pulled off her jacket behind her, and turned away sharply at his attempts to help her. "I'm good, aren't I?" she asked.

"Yes, you are." "I don't believe you. How can I believe you after everything?"

"You're not focusing. Can you remember that I love you?"

"The words, they don't mean anything any more unless you stop doing this to me."

"I'm trying, I'm trying to make things right, to make myself stop doing the wrong things."

"I'm a forgiving person." She whispers.

"You are, you are, but just remember, please just try and understand--"

"I did, I do understand, but God forgive me, I don't know what to do this any more. How much can I take, how much of this am I supposed to take before I say it's enough? Before it's crossed from trials into abuse, into a punishment that I don't think I deserve," she cried, waving her hand in the air, throwing her tissue into the aisle. "You don't deserve to be punished."

"Then why is this being done to me?"

"I'm doing everything I can to be what--"

"I just don't want to do this any more." Her cheeks are still wet and her nose is still red. Her eyes are bloodshot, staring wide and frozen. "I am good. I am good." And she got up, leaning with her left hand on the armrest of the pew. She turned to leave without her jacket on. He probably protested, he begged her, he called after her and stood up to follow her, awkwardly pulling his legs out from beneath the seat. He said,

"Please don't leave me here, I'm begging you, I can be the person you want, I know it, don't do this, you have to clear your mind and focus! What will you do without me?"

She walked down the red aisle towards the door, fumbling like her feet didn't work too well. And he stood at the edge of the pew, as though expecting her to change her mind and walk back. He didn't go after her. He stood there, in limbo, in purgatory, breath withheld, waiting.

And she. She paused at the perfect moment, just before a shrieking crash echoed in the air above her, and as she shielded her eyes from the kaleidoscope of light through color, she saw the glass rain down, but she was just stuck there staring. They came straight for her, all those jagged shapes. They sliced her across her shoulder and embedded themselves in her skull, and as her body slipped to the floor, they aimed straight for her, arrows riddling her body, folding the dull shades of her dress into tinted dimensions of color, poking holes in her velvet black hair.

He was stricken, frozen there, with his jaw hanging and his hands shaking, his whole body threatening to collapse and crumple. He looked to the right, to the left, put his hands up to his forehead and rubbed his face, in one slow, downward drag that pulled his muscles, the skin of his cheeks, eyelids, lips towards the ground. He heard the crunch of glass and the rushing sound of footsteps flowing and ebbing away into silence.

And, yes, that's it, it was him, it was him: When he was done, his expression was wiped clean. In its place was left the hint of a satisfied smile and the tranquil, the slack, the buoyant face of relief.

*****