#32 Mimi and Pop’s Answer to My Question. Don’t read this if you want to stay calm.
Pop and Mimi both shake their heads at the same time.
Isabel. Sit down.
I think maybe I’ll stay standing, but then I cave. Okay.
Pop starts to talk. He uses his deep, serious voice. I want to explain what a preliminary hearing is, Isabel.
I give a whatever shrug* and half-listen. Olivia’s already described it to me this way: The preliminary hearing is when the judge listens to the police tell what the guy is accused of doing. (She’s made a file on her laptop. Once I told her what’s been happening–or NOT happening–she Googled and Wikipedia-ed and watched old Court TV shows for info on preliminary hearings. Consider me your go-to legal expert, Izzy, she says.
But I start to listen to Pop with both ears when I hear him say, The person accused of a crime pleads guilty or not guilty. It’s called “entering a plea.”
A plea, Pop? It sounds like “please,” so I make some guesses. Like he’s going to beg? My voice wears a sharp edge. Like he’ll say, “Please. Please. Don’t put me in jail and throw away the key just because I killed two people.”
Pop raises his eyebrow. He hasn’t heard me talk tough before. Well, it’s new to me, too, but I’m glad I have tough in me. It’s grown a patch of courage I didn’t know I had.
No, it’s not like that, Isabel. Pop says. It’s when the judge tells him what he’s been charged with, and the man has the opportunity to say whether he’s guilty or not guilty.
Hit me with a brick, why don’t you. I’m stunned. Like there’s a question? This guy is GUILTY. I grab Pop’s hands and shake them. He killed Mom and Dad, Pop. Or did you forget?
As soon as I say this, I wish I can hit the rewind button.
–Isabel Scheherazade, tough-girl in training
*PS This shrugging business? Mom and Dad didn’t like it. They said shrugging is a form of non-verbal violence that doesn’t contribute to the conversation in a positive way. (They talked like that. I miss it. Well, I miss it now.) Mimi and Pop haven’t said anything to me about my shrugging. Yet. We’re still too new with each other.