Restorative Justice is not an act of retribution.  It is a function of the legal system where the two parties involved in a criminal act get to meet face to face. It is conducted entirely on a voluntary basis. One side is the victim. The other the offender (That’s police jargon.  It sounds like a press release, I know). Each gets to put their side of events forward. The meeting is set up and run by a facilitator.  The facilitator’s name in this story is Donna.  She volunteers her time from a very demanding job.


Donna rang me on Tuesday at 9:30 in the morning. When we spoke my mouth was full of vegemite toast but I made myself very clear when I laid out my version of the event. 

She sounded very official but empathetic also. She explained a report would go to the district court judge a few days before the hearing.   She reinforced that this was a victim focussed procedure and that I would get justice. 


Now the meeting is in twenty minutes at a small white Anglican church. I am prepped with a written statement. I wrote what to say because I don’t have a good flow of ideas when speaking off the cuff.  I am extremely nervous about meeting the driver of the car that went through a red light, hit me on the passenger’s side at two o’clock in the morning on a clear night.  The driver carried on and was caught later when the car broke down. When the driver was breath tested it turned in a bad result: twice over the legal limit.   I walked away in one piece but my new car was nearly written off. 

The week after the crash I phoned the insurance company to get some details about the driver.  I wanted to say I was fine but my car was a wreck.  That information couldn’t be passed on because of the privacy act.  The driver pleaded guilty in the preliminary hearing.  That was one major step in getting this drama out of the way.


Walking through the front doors of the church I feel more nervous than ever. Donna rises from her foldout white trestle table which is covered in paper.

“Hello Barry.  I’m Donna,” she says shaking my hand very firmly while looking me in the eye confidently.

“I just had a call from the driver.  She is on her way.  Her boyfriend is bringing her.”

“It was a woman in the van that hit me?” I ask, surprised.

“Yes.  Because Insurance doesn’t cover a drunk driver she’ll have big bills to pay.”

A red taxi pulls up in the side street.

“There she is now,” says Donna putting her warm hand on my shoulder.

I turn my head left.  My whole world becomes vague.

“Jesus!” I wheeze “That’s my first girlfriend from high school.”

Donna starts laughing.

“It’s not the end of the world mate.”     

Writing Order: 1. Ken Burns (NZ) 2. Joe Labrum (USA) 3. Anna Zhigareva (Scotland) 4. Anthony Smits (Samos Island) 5. Suraya Dewing (NZ) 6. Ray Stone (Cyprus) 7. Donna McTavish (NZ) 8. Hemali Ajmera (India) 9. Jasmine Groves (NZ) 10. Diana Labrum (USA)


Always a fan of your writing Ken! You make day to day situations look and sound so interesting. I can always relate to your starters because they happen to most of us ordinary people.
Thanks Hemali. Everyday life can be intriguing if you pick the right ingredients to blend in the mix. That is how I choose to write in whatever genre. It is more natural to me.
Oh, this will be fun. Great starter and an interesting story line. I always enjoy your writing, Ken.