??The Court acknowledges the defendant complied with law enforcement when apprehended and admitted to aiding and abetting the fugitive, Chris Amberfall.?
Lirssa stood beside Lieutenant Famil and listened to the judge read out the court summary. There was nothing for her to do. It was a silent room with just those that needed to be there attending. It was a hearing; a cleaning up. The final step.
Blue sky with wispy trails of clouds beckoned her just behind the window. It was a cold, bright, beautiful day. Lirssa could almost taste it. She breathed deep, but the chemical scrubbed, purified smell of the building was all that filled her lungs. Her body leaned slightly toward the window, wishing the outside would meet her part way.
?Court further acknowledges that the fugitive, Chris Amberfall, was found by courts of law not guilty for the charge of involuntary manslaughter?.?
Lirssa blinked back to the judge sitting behind the tall, white paneled desk. So it was done. That masquerade played out and completed. She felt a web of tension unravel in her chest. She breathed easier. The twitch of a smile fought at the corner of her mouth.
?Therefore, Lirssa Redbane Sarengrave al Amat is released with apologies of the court and, as requested, her record expunged.?
?Thank you, your honor,? her words in an impulsive echo after Lieutenant Famil?s own requisite statement of gratitude.
The judge continued, ?It would be in your best interests to not engage in such matters in the future, Ms al Amat.? Judge Creose sighed folding fibrous fingers over her voluminous robes. ?Right or not, the law is there for a reason, and it works in time. You put yourself and the officers through a difficult time and kept us from apprehending the appropriate person. Doing wrong for the right reason is no excuse.?
Not an excuse, but it was practically her mantra.
The gavel slammed down without being touched, or maybe one of the judge?s fingers had moved without Lirssa seeing. ?Court dismissed,? the judge intoned.
Congratulations. Thanks. Warnings. Smiles. Shakes of head and gripped hands. It was a flurry of finality. Done. Free.
Lirssa dare not run, but she walked so fast her hips hurt and knees ached. She needed to rid herself of hallways and cells. To be out of the court and its adjoining prison barracks. People around her minimized to abstractions, just a shadow world where she needed to break through to the real world outside.
The door slid aside. She walked free, drinking in the cold air and heating her insides with the sun. That beautiful star that had once nearly killed her, she held her arms out wide to, wanting to hug it close.
?Stop that man!? A voice shrieked.
Lirssa turned toward the commotion, and in the way of the man. He had been running fast, but looking over his shoulder at the pursuers. Lirssa?s arms flung about him, an automatic reaction, but not trying to wrap him up. Her arms wanted to protect against the sudden, burning pain in her chest. The warmth soothed as it spread along her body.
?Thanks, miss.? Another voice, gasping for air as she had just moments ago. She could not see him. ?We have him now. Miss?...?
There was the sun again. It was so bright. Yellow bleeding to white in her vision, and that then filled with faded views; moving pictures left out to burn away in the heat of day.
High Spires House
Children ? so many faces and so many emotions
Back and back and back, the film winding backwards until?
?there was Bubber. She saw him hunched at the edge of the old stage. The wood edges fading out of the circle of her vision. His gnarled fingers plucked at the stale middle of a heel of bread. ?Bend, little one, but be strong. Strong and flexible.? He hummed and smiled. ?Like bamboo. You must sway.?
But bamboo becomes brittle without sun and sky. It must feel the breeze, breath in the world.
Without it, it breaks.