Chapter 5

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Jenna always saw her family as one of those ebullient groups who expressed their emotions freely. But until the night of Adrian’s murder it had always related to happy times. Now she unhappily realised that in fact her home was one of roller coaster emotions. One minute her Mum would be deliriously happy but the next, utterly miserable. The extremely happy days coincided with Uncle Nick’s visits.

The courtroom bustled around her. A medical forensics specialist gave details of her father’s wounds and agreed that fingerprints on the knife matched Jenna’s. She tried not to roll her eyes at this. They could only be hers. Surely, that was obvious.

"Those weren't the only fingerprints we found though..."

Although mystified, Jenna dismissed the finding.

Prosecution call Uncle Nick’s name and he strode up to the Witness stand wearing a white silk suit and white shoes. She stared at him.

‘What,’ she wondered, ‘was he doing there?’

No doubt, her interfering grandmother had implicated him in some way.

As he stood holding his hand up, and with his other placed on the Bible, Jenna recognised something she had never noticed before. His left small finger was crooked. She looked at her own hand and saw the same deformity.

She looked across to her mother, who sat, hands clenched and wringing, alone.

“Were you in business with Mr. Adrian Shields?” the prosecutor asked.

Uncle Nick nodded and said, “I was.”

A shiver scuttled through her mother and a tuft of greying hair fell from the scarf that covered her head. Jenna gripped the highly polished wooden defendant’s chair and tried to interpret her mother’s reaction.

Her mother still bore the latent scars of her husband’s beating, a zigzagging line through her cheek and a misshapen jaw. That would be the legacy Jenna’s mother’s bore from that terrible night. Then, as she examined her mother more closely, she began seeing other signs of her mother’s quiet horror….white burn marks pockmarking her arms and the twist in her arm, which she had explained was the result of tripping in the garden…a broken arm that had not healed well.

“Oh my god,” Jenna moaned.

“Silence!” the judge shouted.

Jenna’s mother raised her downcast eyes and connected for a moment with Jenna’s. Although Jenna saw her mother’s love, she also saw absolute defeat.

Jenna recalled something her mother had said many years ago. At the time, she thought she spoke in jest. “Women don’t count for a lot in this country. We soon learn to keep our heads down and our hands very busy.”

Her mother sent her a tentative smile. In that moment, Jenna realised her mother hoped she would be convicted.

She barely registered what softly spoken Uncle Nick said in the stand as she was drowning in his cold, dark eyes. Now Jenna knew why her mother hoped she was convicted. In prison, she was safe. If not, she faced dreadful consequences as she had brought terrible shame to her family.



courtroom drama, highly emotional character, a clue as to parentage and if that was not enough the threat of violence as someone is caught in a 'damned if I do and damned if I don't' situation. AND all in 500 words. Great serial writing with plot gliding along effortlessly. Well worked out chapter.
Thank you Ray.