Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On trial.

On trial. (Love on Trial.)

“You don’t know how to love!” I’m up on the stand facing charges against me in an open court. A final attempt to defend my actions before I accept my sentence. Opposing counsel’s face twists with loathing as her voice echoes across the large courtroom. People are in a state of uproar. Boos and hisses are directed towards me. Down falls the gavel in an attempt to reinstate order to the chaos. Counsel further accosts me, “You toyed with the hearts of too many men. Tricking them into believing you felt the same way.” My sentence is death if convicted. “There are too many reasons for relationships to fail and you seek them out. You’ve proven that you can sabotage a love affair with the ease of a pro.” How can my actions be the sole reason behind every failure? It’s a question I think every woman begins to ponder after the men continue to leave or cheat. Were they ever really mine? What’s wrong with me? “The court will decide if you deserve to live another day and reek havoc on the hearts of others. You have proven time and time again that you are reckless and cruel when in possession of someone’s heart. It is my intention to see you punished for the damage you’ve inflicted upon these poor men!”

The judge beats the gavel repeatedly while scolding counsel. “Enough!”

“I was young. Didn’t know what I was doing!” Pleading as I hold back the tears. Trying to retain every ounce of composure I have left. Dying for this is unimaginable. The execution of a heartbreaker. Sure I’d been through my fair share of men over the years, but never intentionally breaking hearts out of malice.

“Cruelly you allow them to watch you, while you deceive them with your guise of love and adoration. You aren’t young anymore! You’ve outdone yourself this time. Gone too far. Who did you think you were? Above the laws that govern this type of behavior? No more! You will be punished for your crimes.”

“If you give me a chance, I know I can change. I just don’t know how. Please? I will find a way to fix it. Let me leave. LET ME LOVE!” My screams and tears mean nothing in this room. Everyone is united against me. There’s no justice. Guilty until proven innocent. Defending myself on the stand is more damaging than helpful. After the last witness, it was my hope that I could make them understand. I never meant to hurt anyone. My actions were always without intention.


Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury it is my every intention to demonstrate that the woman sitting here today, Natalie Graham, is a cruel heartless creature that seeks to destroy any man she comes into contact with. Through her perceived naïveté, she tricks her prey into the illusion of true love. After convincing her victims of false affections she proceeds to twist and pull at the very strings of their hearts. Once she has taken down the very fiber of a man, this cold calculating woman then disappears without a trace. It is our civic duty to stop this woman from continuing to feed on the love and affections of men. We need to end her path of destruction and mend the fallen soldiers she leaves in her wake. Through the next series of witnesses and testimonies, I will prove that she is unfit to love and should face the maximum sentence of death for her actions.

Her first witness: Michael. My first love. True love? I don’t know. The affair seems so very long ago. Distant and foreign to my thoughts. There have been bad feelings between us for so very long. I haven’t seen him for several years. The counsel places evidence on an easel. A B&W photo enlarged. The Eiffel tower. A couple beneath the iron giant embraces. “Do you recognize this moment?” Of course I do. But she isn’t talking to me. The picture is of Michael and I. Eight years ago. We were completely in love. I can’t tell you how things slipped away so quickly. But they did.

Sitting on the stand, he looks just the same as I remembered. Blonde hair is just a bit longer and neatly placed. His face shows a bit of wear, but no more than a week without sleep will grant.  “Yes. That’s a photo of us; Me and Natalie. It was our last summer together. We went to Paris for a week and I proposed.”

“Did she say ‘yes’?”

It’s obvious he’s not comfortable with this question. From my seat I can see the sweat on his brow and the fear in his eyes. I could answer this for him. My answer wasn’t simple. In fact it was one of the few times I’d been quite cruel without intention. I was young and unprepared for that commitment, but not ready to lose him.

“She wanted more time, and asked me…”

“I need a straight answer. Yes or No. Did she say ‘yes’?” The counselor firmly insists upon a direct response. Coldly she persists in her pursuit without falter.

“No.” Michael put his head down with this admission. It isn’t his desire to see me punished. Yet he still can’t look me in the eyes after all this time has passed.

But my refusal wasn’t that simple. I’d asked him for time and then turned the tables. Quickly I’d given him an ultimatum. If he loved me he would wait. And if he would not, I would leave him. Cut him off. I never promised to marry him if he waited. I didn’t want to. That kind of commitment frightened me to the core. Things went along for another six months…

“What happened after that? Did she ever re-commit?” Michael breaks down into tears as the questioning leads into personal pain. Glares from the jury shoot across the courtroom in my direction. A jury of my peers, hand-picked people who have been battered, bruised and broken in the realm of love, here to pass judgment upon me for these crimes of the heart.

Through his sobbing, the words are quite intelligible. “She left. Without a reason. No explanation. I thought we were getting closer. I could feel her coming around. She moved in and those last few months made sense again.” Agitation and anger power these words as he struggles to be heard until his voice escalates to a louder decibel. “We exchanged commitments! B-b-b-ut she, sh-she left anyway!” Quietly he settles back down to a quiet whisper, “She cleared out her things when I was sleeping.” Michael sits very still and finally makes eye contact with me. I can see the rage in his eyes and pain that lives in his heart. “HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME?!” He roars across the room furiously never breaking his stare. “ANSWER ME!” With those words he reaches down and tosses the chair across the room. The courtroom erupts in a roar. People are screaming and throwing things in my direction. The judge pounds his gavel to demand order. The bailiff immediately removes Michael from the court.

He was right I’d left him in the night. Never left a word. Even after I’d re-committed and promised to stay. Living together wasn’t the problem. Neither was the commitment. I can’t explain clearly. I had to leave. Disappearing felt safe and I wanted security. Maybe it was the unknown? To say I didn’t love him, that’s a lie. I loved him very much. It still hurts like an open wound. Aside from my most recent love, it was perhaps the most painful collapse of a relationship. Michael was chosen to be first for a reason. Our failed past was an example of my destructive love and would set the tone to build a solid case.

The bulk of the witnesses are family members, friends and co-workers. Each and every one questioned about my limitations and boundaries. All expected to describe acts of malice on my behalf. Photos and memories recounted for the court’s amusement.

Even my own mother admits that I was a cruel child. Carrying my dolls by the hair and pulling off their heads when other little girls nurtured them and played house. She believed I would never find love at a young age because of my lack of compassion.

My best friend brought up stories of my teenage angst. One particular account demonstrated my rage at a boyfriend for dumping me and dating another classmate. In that instance my cruelty wasn’t limited to the boy; the poor girl lost her beautiful hair because of it. Both of them spent the remainder of senior year bald and a steadfast couple. I was expelled for the use of a straight razor on school grounds. Being my best friend didn’t stop her judgment. She always felt I was incapable of understanding love the way others did.

Several co-workers testified to an instance where I’d accosted an ex-boyfriend with a steak knife while at a work luncheon. What the court deliberately overlooks is the restraining order I had against this man. He tried to run me down with a car when I broke up with him. The steak knife was out of defense. Yet I was the one carried off the premises in handcuffs. No charges were filed against me. I never recovered my professional reputation after the incident. But that is of no consequence in this case. The counselor calls one by one, the many people of my life before the court to review my painful track record of heartbreak. While not every instance is my fault the finger is pointed toward me.

Although I’m growing tired of the abuse it continues. Wave after wave of demonstrated cruelty passes before my eyes and I’m completely powerless to stop it. Judgment and viciousness continues right down to the last witness. William, my fiancé. Although, technically we’re no longer engaged or on speaking terms. He was the final straw. The reason I’m in this position. Believe what you like, but I can hardly be fully responsible for the demise of that relationship. Will broke me, as much as I broke him. The circumstances of this situation really aren’t fair to me. He deserves to be defending himself, perhaps more so than me. William was a known heartbreaker. He went into every relationship looking to hurt or get hurt. Sometimes I think that’s why we ended up together.

“Mr. Caltor, please explain how you became acquainted with Ms. Graham. It is obvious from the statements of others that your relationship was the shortest and the most destructive to both parties.” Counsel paces smugly while questioning Will. She almost looks like the cat that ate the canary. Will looking the same as the day I left him, sits with a calm arrogance.

“Nat was dating a friend of mine and I told her to leave him. Actually he was hardly a friend, more of an acquaintance and she could do better. Pl- …” Before Will gets out another syllable he is interrupted.

“You mean someone like yourself? Your exploits are duly noted in my file. Do you even love Ms. Graham?” Madam counselor is taking a risk by picking this fight. Will and I loved each other just as much as we hated each other.

“Look, I’m a good guy. Better than that idiot she was wasting time with. I love Nat, but with her that’s not enough. She knows what I’m talking about. I won’t sit up here like those other assholes and dredge up her faults. You want to know what happened ask the right questions and you might find out. Otherwise you’re wasting my time and yours.” From that burning statement you might think Will was on my side. It couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth being Will was responsibly looking out for his best interests. This meant he couldn’t afford to dredge up anything outside of our short courtship.

When I met William, I wasn’t looking for love. Despising every ounce of what it represented, I’d wanted the exact opposite of love. Pain. Heartache. Embracing that very notion with comfort and cruising into our relationship hoping for a broken heart. Will went into the situation the same as any other. Pragmatic. Arrogant. In a matter of days it became apparent that we were equally matched in our unhealthy affections. In the beginning we learned to hate each other and inflict the most unspeakable pain. Infidelities. Lies. Emotional Persecution. Enjoying it, as I knew he suffered by my actions. Loving me, more and more, as he returned the pain without consideration. Knowing that my heart would break, I returned eagerly. Hurting each other became intensely addictive. Who knew love would grow from our destruction? Within six months of destruction grew an almost marriage. However, in the end, Will was right. Simply put, love wasn’t enough. So I left, taking his heart with me. Leaving mine behind.

“See you later, kid. I’m not sticking around to watch you get it. Good luck.” Will was never any good with farewells. I couldn’t blame him though. Watching me die because I couldn’t love him would be unbearable. Testifying is the last thing I want, but after everything, there’s no choice. I must defend myself.


Ms. Graham, you have been judged by a group of your peers for the crimes of the heart. The court finds you guilty on all counts of premeditated heartache and malicious cruelty. It is the recommendation of this court that you receive the maximum penalty of death. Your heart shall be removed, followed by the immediate dismemberment of your body. Is there anything you wish to share with the court?

“I want to love. Please let me. I can love. Please…  Let me love?”

Love as a crime? What do think about that? Suppose they did punish people for the awful things they do. Well, this idea came from a dream. Or rather a nightmare. Of course the mind wanders. That’s always fun. This one is really on the darker side, and quite an interesting place for me to start from. Oh… They aren’t going to all be about love. Promise. It wasn’t my intention to start things off this way. But it happened. Anyhow, I hope this is appreciated. Enjoy? kisses. m.

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