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А Б В Г Д Е Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я


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4: 0 2 P. M.

Ted had me write Yes and No on the board, and then he polled us, one by one, as I wrote our names in each of the columns.

Jim?

Yes.

Alison?

Yes.

Marilyn?

Yes.

Vy?

No.

I hesitated, then wrote my own name beneath Vy's.

"You agreed to vote for death if you had to," Mark said. "They asked each of us before we got picked for the jury if we could do that."

"I know." I had agreed to vote for the death penalty if the case merited it. I just hadn't realized it was going to be this difficult to do.

Vy buried her face in her hands. "When my son used to hit his little brother, I didn't smack him and say 'Don't hit.' It felt hypocritical then.

And it feels hypocritical now."

"Vy," Marilyn said quietly, "what if it had been your seven-year-old who was killed?" She reached onto the table, where we had piled up transcripts and evidence, and took the same picture of Elizabeth Nealon that the prosecutor had presented during his closing argument. She set it down in front of Vy, smoothed its glossy surface.

After a minute, Vy stood up heavily and took the marker out of my hand. She wiped her name off the No column and wrote it beneath

Marilyn's, with the ten other jurors who'd voted Yes.

"Michael," Ted said.

I swallowed.

"What do you need to see, to hear? We can help you find it." He reached for the box that held the bullets from ballistics, the bloody clothing, the autopsy reports. He let photos from the crime scene spill through his hands like ribbons. On some of them, there was so much blood, you could barely see the victim lying beneath its sheen. "Michael,"

Ted said, "do the math."

I faced the white board, because I couldn't stand the heat of their eyes on me. Next to the list of names, mine standing alone, was the original equation I'd set up for us when we first came into this jury room: (A + B)-C = SENTENCE.

What I liked about math was that it was safe. There was always a right answer-even if it was imaginary.

This, though, was an equation where math did not hold up. Because

A + B-the factors that had led to the deaths of Kurt and Eliza beth Nealon-would always be greater than C. You couldn't bring them back, and there was no sob story in the world big enough to erase that truth.

In the space between yes and no, there's a lifetime. It's the difference between the path you walk and one you leave behind; it's the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it's the legroom for the lies you'll tell yourself in the future.

I erased my name on the board. Then I took the pen and rewrote it, becoming the twelfth and final juror to sentence Shay Bourne to death.


"If Cod did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

- VOLTAIRE, FOR AND AGAINST


3: 0 6 P. M. | Change of heart | E L E V E N Y E A R S L A T E R