Owen’s heart was thudding. The murmur of voices in the stuffy court buzzed in his ear like an annoyingly persistent fly on a sultry day. As the handle of the door turned, the murmuring got louder and more excited. Full of nervous anticipation, Owen was transported back to that fateful night.
The stars had been surprisingly bright, given the lack of a moon in the sky. He remembered pointing it out to her. She’d smiled, but then hesitated. He could tell something was wrong. “I’m pregnant,” she’d suddenly blurted out, and the implications were crystal clear to him. It could be either of theirs. Her husband would not be able to cope with a child. Heck, a child wouldn’t survive in such a household. And he’d hurt her, worse than ever before. Yet Owen knew she could never pick him, and it filled him with rage.
As the jury took to their seats, the bustle in the court reduced. Everyone was keen to hear the verdict. It looked like an open-and-shut case, but he’d escaped persecution thus far. One member of the jury stood and faced the judge. Owen closed his eyes.
He’d closed his eyes then too. Unable to accept what he had done. Claire Wilson, the woman who he loved more than anything, now lay dead at his hands. His shaking, bloodied hands. He looked at the coloured bruises on her poor lifeless body, recalling how barely an hour ago he’d been the one soothing them and comforting her, and almost laughed at the irony. Her abusive childhood, her abusive husband, and in the end it was the gentle boyfriend who had dealt the final blow.
Owen felt as though all eyes in the room were on him. He retreated further into the shadows. The juror cleared his throat.
“Guilty,” he said.
“We find Matt Wilson, husband of the victim, guilty.”