I snuck out to see it. Danny ordered me to stay, but I had to see it. I stayed in the back though. I deserved to be here, I deserved to see this. I wanted to watch him die.
"You have been accused with murder. Witnesses stand here that saw the death of General Meyer Clanes. They now are ready to witness your death." I didn’t know the man at all who said these things. I watched the man who killed my father plead for his life. And I felt sorry for him. He begged over and over again in poor English. The man ignored him. He walked to the lever. I had to do something.
"Stop! Don’t kill him!" I yelled. All heads turned to see me. I made my way forward. Danny glared at me.
"I told you to stay…" he started to say, I held out a hand to stop him.
"I am General Meyer Clanes’ daughter, and I am asking you to spare this man’s life." I walked up the stairs and onto the deck where they were going to be hanging him.
"You wish for the man who took the General’s life to live?" The man who had been talking earlier asked. Commander something.
"If we kill him, then we’re no worse then him. Killing him won’t bring my father back will it? If that’s the case then do it now. But you know it won’t."
"Eye for an eye. He killed, so he must be killed."
"Then so should I. I was in the fight, and I killed. Put me in the ropes now. I don’t have a license to kill. He did have one. Let someone who deserves to die take his place. Put me there instead."
"You fought for your friends and your country."
"So did he."
"You wish to let this man live, and you take his place?"
"If someone must die, then let it be me." I stepped toward the man and removed the rope from his neck. I began to place it around mine. Then man who killed my father took it from me. I looked at him curiously. He opened his mouth.
"I-I, sor-ry I kill your fath-er." He whispered.
"I forgive you."
"I thought he try to kill me. He reach for some-thing, I thought it was gun."
"I understand, mistakes happen." I took the rope from him again. "Which is why I’m taking your place." I placed the rope around my neck. The man shook his head.
"Do not die." He insisted. I only had one thing worth living for. Danny. I looked at him. He had tears in his eyes. This was my choice, and there was nothing he could do about it. It was a law. If I wanted to take the place of a prisoner, I was not to be advised otherwise. He was not allowed to say anything.
"I’m sorry Danny." I said to him. He turned and stomped away, shoving through the crowd. I didn’t blame him for hating me. I looked at the man who was to execute the prisoner, and I nodded. The executer was still for a moment, not sure of himself.
"I accept the charges placed to the prisoner to be placed upon my life." I said aloud. He sighed them moved toward the lever. I looked out and saw Danny was gone. Good, he didn’t need to see this. I looked at all the shocked faces. Then I closed my eyes.
"Th-this girl has accepted the charges of the prisoner and is taking his place in death." He took a deep breath, then pulled the lever.
I don’t know why I’m alive, or why I’m here. Or why my neck is killing me. Why wasn’t I dead? I opened my eyes, and saw Danny crying over me. Where was I? I was strangely comfortable. I opened my eyes some more. What the hell?
What was I in? I saw it was wooden, whatever I was lying in. I could see a preacher. He was talking about how everyone would miss me. Maybe I was dead. But then why could I feel me? I could move my fingers, my toes. I could move.
How long had I been out? What the hell was going on? I could hear sobbing. Danny walked away, still crying. Then I figured it out. I was alive, and I was at my funeral. They thought I was dead? Maybe my heart stopped, or they didn’t bother to check. Weird.
I had to clarify I was alive. I wasn’t going to let them bury me. But then the lid started to close.
"No, stop!" I yelled, it was hoarse, but someone heard me, because it was immediately opened again. The preacher rushed over to me. I blinked and looked up at him. He gasped.
"She’s alive!" he called out. Then everyone was over me. Danny was the closest.
"Oh my God!" he said.
"Get me out of this damn thing!" I said, feeling claustrophobic. They opened the second half and Danny and Rodney carefully lifted me out.
"Someone find a doctor!" Danny shouted. They set me down across a few chairs.
"Jeez guys, didn’t you check to see if I was still breathing? You about buried me alive!" I complained. It was meant to be a joke. But Danny didn’t laugh. He just cried some more. I lifted a hand and stroked his cheek.
"Hey, don’t cry, it’s okay." I soothed. But it didn’t help. He just kept sobbing. "Shh." I said and hugged him to me. I would have sat up, but like I said, my neck was killing me. Soon a doctor was at my side. Everyone was gathered around. It was utterly annoying. Danny stepped back, staring at me the whole time. I hadn’t expected it to happen like this. I should be with my father right now.
He stared at me all the time. Maybe he was still trying to believe I was alive. Or afraid I’d die any second. I pulled at the brace. It was like a having the rope around my neck again. But this time it wouldn’t kill me and go away. I started to take it off. Danny took my hand.
"Leave it." He warned. I sighed then looked over at him. He looked tired.
"Are you okay? You look like you need some sleep."
"Why did you do it?" he asked. I already knew what he was talking about.
"Because I didn’t want him to die."
"Why not? The day before you said you wanted to be the one to kill him."
"I thought I did want him dead. But when I saw him begging for his life, I couldn’t let them. And it was only an accident."
"Of all the days you chose to be compassionate…"
"I’m trying to be an adult. I don’t have parents, I’m getting married soon, and it’s time I start growing up."
"No one asked you to grow up."
"Because it wasn’t a choice. Didn’t you feel sorry for him?"
"I felt more sorry for your father."
"Well, who’s being immature now?"
"It’s not immature to want justice for people you love."
"Maybe not. But it’s very mature to want someone to live. Even if they deserve to die."
"So it was all about maturity?"
"No, I guess I just missed him. And I thought it would fix things. The man would live, you could get a woman your own age, and I could be with my father."
"I don’t understand you anymore."
"I don’t understand myself much either. I think I just want to be alone Danny." He sighed then stood and left the tent. I closed my eyes, but couldn’t rest because the brace was bugging me. I pulled at it.
"Keep the brace on." Danny called from outside the tent. I groaned.
© Copyright 2016 Cherie Arlavine . All rights reserved.
Poem / Poetry
Book / Mystery and Crime
Short Story / Romance
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