Formal Attire and Casual Colleagues
I took a deep breath, tying my hair in an untidy ponytail. It would have to do for now, it seemed, as I would be going inside in a minute. I pulled my white gloves further onto my hands, concealing my wrists. I should have been accustomed to doing this by now, the court lobby was almost like a second home. In fact, without even looking at it I could describe the towering, wooden door that proved to be the only thing separating me from the trial at hand. Made some centuries ago, as I'd heard from the kindly secretary, Dana, said to be carved by the finest wood carver of the time. Each detail I had focused on many days before, from the smooth surface to the formal fleur-de-lis' that symmetrically complimented each other. The door would shine brilliantly at the hour of noon, making it quite the sight to behold.
"Miss Rhea? You're up." A man gazed at me behind black spectacles and hazel eyes. He had opened the door, breaking my concentration.
"Of course," I replied, getting to my feet and leaving the warmth of the cushioned chair I had been sitting in. I entered the courtroom, where the eyes of the jury, judge, defence and prosecution alike were on me.
"Riley Rhea, I trust, is you, correct?" The judge clarified. I nodded. "Yes, your honour."
"Please continue with the procedure. Our defendant today is-"
"Excuse me, sir, but I'd like to tell you everything about him once I'm finished. Pardon my intrusion, but it should prove to those who are still disbelieving of my ability." The judge blinked, but nodded in his agreement. "Do what you must then." Gulping, I made my way to where the defendant stood a little uncertainly. "What are you gonna do?" he asked, eyeing my hand as I removed the glove.
"Hm? Nothing to you, sir, but it is the information inside your head that I hope to gather. Memories." I added, noting his confused glances. "May I see your hand?" I held out my naked palm expectantly. He complied, his hand shaking as it grazed my fingertip.
The room blurred out into nothing, coming back into one of the past. I saw the defendant, younger, healthier, with fresh stubble brushing against his smiling face. I scanned around me. A bar? How cliché. I haven't the taste for such things, from the other cases I've seen. There were men in the back, unusually loud due to the amount of empty bottles that littered their table. Disgusting.
I preferably directed my attention to the defendant, instead, where he was chortling and joking around with his friends.
"I don't see why not!" One of the friends said in a British accent, his glasses askew. Oh, a foreigner?
"Quit joshing me, guys. You know it'll never happen." The defendant spoke, his American accent clear and identical to the one he had today.
"Just ask her, it won't hurt." Another British accent. Come to think of it, could I be in The United Kingdom right now? It's happened before, watching someone travel to different countries. Perhaps so.
"Fine. Hey, Janice?" He gestured to the bartender, a thin, beautiful woman who seemed just old enough to work there in the first place. "Another round?" she asked.
"Ah, no. I was just wondering if, ah, maybe you would like to go for coffee sometime?" The defendant flushed. Janice tucked a loose hair behind her ear, the rest of her gingerbread mane in a braid. "Sure. How abouts tomorrow at six? That's when I get off."
I saw the evident smile that crossed his face, his eyes lighting up. "Great!" he said ecstatically. "I'll pick you up then. Do you mind Brambles?" Janice nodded shyly, but gave a stern look to the friend with glasses. "Moe, your glasses are all to one side again. Honestly, you should be able to live on your own by now." She straightened them, shaking her head.
The scene dissolved in a murky bubble, and I was transported to somewhere open. Outside, no less, in the heat of the afternoon, and in a meadow to boot. I saw the defendant, a teenager now, the friend with the glasses beside him. They were both sitting on the grass, enjoying the momentary sunshine.
"I can't believe you're going abroad," the defendant said. "it seems too surreal to believe."
"Don't worry," Moe said. "Either I'll visit you in the summer, or you'll visit me! We keep in contact that way, right?"
" 'Course. Don't forget though."
"Jim, you mistake me for someone who is forgetful."
"You are forgetful."
The scene disappeared, another shifting into view. A small boy, running along the meadow with a dog, a woman observing him, keeping watch. His mother. It was gone. Another: Jim as a man, in a dark alley. It blurred, but came back to the same place, only Janice was with him.
"Thanks for taking me out today, I had fun." She kissed him on the cheek. "Let's do it again, okay?" Jim beamed, knocking on the door with a sturdy fist. A loud shot echoed through the alley, and in an instant blood splattered everywhere. On Jim, the door, and especially Janice. She fell, the bullet firmly lodged in her head. Jim screamed, falling to his knees at the sight of her. He looked to the culprit, who was holding a pistol, frozen in terror of what he had done. I watched the events with grim amusement, predicting what would happen next. The man who had shot Janice ran off into the night, throwing his gun at Jim, who watched it fall beside him. The door opened, and another scream penetrated my ears. Oh, keep it down, please. The woman in the doorway cradled Janice's head in her lap, while Jim fumbled for his phone.
Scene shift. The police are questioning him, Jim is nervous. Too nervous. Accused of murder.
I lean back in my seat, the one I always generated when I did this. I'd created a white room, with a comfy armchair to comfort my nerves. His memories floated around me, all looking like a video tape, all barging their way to be seen first. They started to become demanding, all pushing against each other, and me.
"Stop." I said lazily. They came closer, suffocating. "Stop!" I shouted. They engulfed me, forcing me through every awful, happy, and sad memory that this man had throughout his life. "S-" I couldn't breathe, the memories were shoving themselves down my throat in an effort to be seen.
I jumped back, breathing heavily. Jim looked at me with wide eyes, scared that he did that to me. He offered a hand. Oh, I was on the floor. Lovely. I accepted his offer, coming to my feet and brushing myself off. "Sorry about the sudden scare," I cleared my throat off, the jury whispering about themselves.
"Order!" The judge commanded. "Well, what is your report? Tell me about the case."
"Of course," I took a deep breath. "The defendant here is known as Jim Foster, son of Erin Hemley and Thomas Foster, his parents were never married, but shared the time to care for their sun. Jim grew up in the country, as a boy he would play in the nearby meadow with his dog, Sam, and travelled to school via a busline that ran through the area. In school he met a foreign exchange student, Moe Crawford, who came from Bristol, England. They became close friends even throughout their teenage years, when Moe moved back to England. They stayed in touch until Jim reached manhood, lost contact for a year, but then another friend knew Moe and brought them together again. Jim made a trip out to Bristol, meeting Moe again as well as a few of his friends. They all went to the bar on March 14th, Thursday, 2053 at seven pm, and left later that night around midnight. During that time Moe and his friends convinced Jim to ask the pretty bartender out on a date, which she accepted to. They went to Brambles bakery on Friday at 6:15 pm for coffee and a snack. They left at 8:30, Jim driving Janice to her home. She thanks him, says they should do it again, and Jim knocks on the door. A man in black shoots Janice from behind, remains frozen for a moment, then throws his gun at Jim, it landing beside him to his right. The door opens, Katie Narl answering the door, horrified by her daughter's body. Janice was shot directly in the head, suffered little as she died instantly, and is having her funeral prepared as we speak. In short, the defendant here is guilty of no crime relating to this case."
I shuffled around uncomfortably. The words just came out of my mouth without warning. I gave a shortened version of this man's life, essentially.
"Hm, indeed." The judge stroked his beard in thought. "That is the truth of the matter."
"Objection! Your honour, how can we believe the words of a girl who has just arrived on scene, touched the defendant's palm, and spewed out this story? I think this evidence is false." The Prosecution objected.
"Objection overruled. We have lie detectors hooked on her person, therefore she cannot be lying about the scenes she has witnessed. I proved her ability myself when she first arrived in court many years ago. I see no lies within her statement." The woman who I knew as the Prosecutor gritted her teeth. I can see why it would be hard to believe. Looking into people's memories isn't exactly normal.
"Thank you for your time, Miss Rhea. You may leave." I bowed, turning around and exiting the courtroom. I hoped that Jim would make it out alright. Judging by his memories, he should. I have nothing to fear for him. I grabbed my satchel that I'd left in front of my chair and strapped it to my shoulder.
"Bye, Riley!" Dana, the secretary, waved cheerfully as I walked by.
"Bye!" I called back, exiting the house of law.
I breathed in the fresh air of the city. Well, maybe not as fresh as I would like it to be. I smiled, hopping on the street and heading to a building in the distance. TWDU, or Trinity Willard Duncan University, was a home to me, in a sense. Somewhere I could go from relaxing to a frantic panic in under a minute. How odd, the place where many fear going and are sad to leave is where I take my refuge.
I crashed onto my couch, kicking off my heels and instantly switching into sweatpants and a baggy shirt that said 1-UP! on the front. I reached underneath the couch, pulling hard, and evidently realizing it wasn't going to work. I sighed, reluctantly getting up and pulling it again. This time, the rest of the couch came with it, turning my couch into a bed. Satisfied, I crawled to the couch part of my bed, and pulled out my laptop. After logging in, I clicked a folder labelled 'School' that I had saved on my desktop. After clicking it, several more folders became available to choose from. I chose 'Psychology 101' and selected the review page I had written the other night. Considering I had fallen asleep the last time I read this, now would be a good time to freshen up. I glanced at some of the fun facts I had scribbled to keep my head in the game, one of them included "The Truman Syndrome is a psychological disorder in which patients believe they're living in a reality TV show." and "The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950's." Those two were my favourites, so I glanced at them often.
Often enough to distract me from my schoolwork. The door opened with its usual creak, and a girl with boy short, blonde hair entered, popping her bubblegum. "Hey," she greeted me.
"Hey," I looked at her upside down. She wore leggings that shone with the purple colours of space, and a Doctor Who T-shirt. I never understood the show that she raved over, but she always seemed really into it.
"So how's it go? Guilty or not?" She threw her books in their corner. Her books had noticeably 'claimed' a certain spot in the corner of their room, piling high the more homework my roommate got.
"Horribly framed, nothing I haven't seen before. We should hear the 'Not Guilty' reigning over the hills in no time."
"Hah, you sure seem confident. I mean, with a power like that, I'm amazed you're still sane."
"I'll probably lose it soon, with all these tests coming up."
"Riley, you're too serious about your marks. You already have amazing marks, I've never seen someone achieve almost straight A's in Psychology!"
"But I know it can be better."
She put her hands on her hips. "Now, that's no way to think! You'll depress yourself, if you keep that up. Why don't you come out with me tonight? A couple of friends want me to tag along with them anyway, but we can always take off. I know how you are with parties."
"Nope. You're coming. If you can go into a court of law and make it out alive, you'll definitely survive this. Hey, I'll even treat you. Where do you wanna eat?"
"Ellie, you're running low on cash as it is. There's no need."
"So what? There's enough food in the fridge to keep me alive until my next paycheck. I'll just know better next time not to splurge on a sexy poster of David Tennant."
I gave her a contempt look. "You'll just get one of Matt Smith instead." She gave me a smile. "You know me too well, m'dear. We leave at six." I glanced at the clock. Quarter after five. Sighing, I returned to my computer screen, booting up a different set of notes. I had titled it "Blind Notes", for it was where I put all the nonsense that rattled in my brain. I scrolled through several paragraphs I had written in the past, and started a new one. I started typing.
Month XX Day XX Year XXXX
Defendant: Jim Foster Victim: Janice Narl Defendant's Friend: Moe Crawford
Unidentifiable character shot and killed Janice, framing Jim. Janice + Jim = potential love? Moe and Jim = childhood friends. Nothing new to remark on.
I sighed, taking my fingers away from the keys. The cases I got nowadays weren't anything interesting or difficult, just the same old thing over and over again. Perhaps once I graduate I can get a case tough enough for me to crack. Not only am I taking Psychology, but I'm shooting for a degree in law as well. I've had dreams of being a lawyer since I was a teenager, and ultimately decided it would be the career I wanted to pursue. So here I am, catching up on homework in my free time from classes, and already getting experience (even if it is a minute at a time) in the court.
Glancing at the clock, I was astonished to see half an hour had gone by. How long had I wasted away in my thoughts? It seemed like only five minutes had passed...well, no matter. I changed out of my sweatpants into a pair of black jeans and a red T-shirt that hugged at my curves. Just as I got the majority of the tangles out of my hair, I heard Ellie calling me.
Bracing myself, I stepped out the door with her, wondering what else was waiting for me in this world.