"Wake up... wake up, Jeanie." said a quiet but firm woman's voice.
An arm reached out and gently shook her. Jeanie's eyes sprung open and she quickly closed them again, shielding them from the harsh artificial light. She felt tired. Colored spots darted behind her closed eyelids and her head throbbed. A sharp pain that ebbed away to a dull ache almost as soon as it had come. Her lips were parched, sealed together by a thin layer of dried saliva. Her tongue felt swollen, too large for her mouth. It bulged against her teeth. She opened her mouth slowly, the skin of her lips clinging. The bed beneath her felt cold. "Where..." she said, trailing off with her mouth open weakly.
"Time to get up Jeanie, the judge is here to talk to you."
Jeanie opened her eyes just enough to see through her eyelashes. She thought her wrists ached and she could feel cold metal pressed against them. "Water", she said. She could see the woman who woke her now, dimly. Everything was blurry. She blinked a few times but the light in the room still seemed too bright.
"Here." The woman's said and held a plastic cup to Jeanie's lips. Jeanie tried to lift her arms but she was too weak to move so she just drank from the cup. The cold water felt good against her dry tongue. It still felt swollen, but somehow less noticeable. The water didn't seem to soak in and her mouth still felt dry. She drank some more and held the water in her mouth. She could see the woman clearly now. She was dressed in loose fitting blue, a blue top and blue pants. There was a thermometer hanging from a candy cane striped cord around her neck. Her dark hair was pulled back in a pony-tail by a green elastic hair tie.
The nurse took the cup away and walked to a table at the end of the bed near Jeanie's feet. A man in a black robe walked up to her from outside of Jeanie's view as she placed the cup on the table and said something softly to the nurse. The nurse nodded and left the room. The door closed quietly behind her.
The man in black stood staring silently at Jeanie. He did not smile and Jeanie just looked at him. She swallowed the water she'd been holding and then opened her mouth to ask where she was but nothing came out. Her throat felt sore and scratchy.
"How are you feeling?" He asked.
"You must be the judge." She said. Her voice sounded raspy and hollow in her ears.
"I am. Do you know why you are here?"
Jeanie shook her head and wished she hadn't. Her vision swam, blurring wildly and the dull ache exploded like shattered glass behind her eyes. "No" she croaked out through gritted teeth, her eyes closed tight.
"You are on trial."
"That's insane" she whispered hoarsely. "I haven't done anything"
"I'm afraid that's not entirely true. Do you remember?" Said the judge.
Jeanie opened her eyes to slits, glaring at the judge. "No! This is crazy, where am I? Why am I on trial?" She said. Jeanie tried to move her arms again, to lift herself up but she couldn't move. They felt far away and painfully tingly like they had no circulation. She managed to flop her left arm onto her stomach beneath the covers. "What is wrong with my arms!"
"I'm afraid that's sometimes a side effect of the treatment. You probably won't remember for a long time. If ever, some people think the brain forgets to try and protect itself. I think it's simply the mercy of God."
"What are you talking about?" she whispered, her voice cracking.
"You are on trial for murder." said the judge.
She laughed, a short bark, and smiled cruelly. "This is some sort of joke. I would never hurt anyone. You can ask anyone."
"Oh, we will. Don't worry about that." He said.
"We? What are you talking about?" She tossed her hair, and a few strands fell back in front of her face, slightly obscuring one eye.
"Well, witnesses will be called. Testimonies will be made. I assure you it will be a fair trial." He said. He smiled briefly and clasped his hands behind his back. His black robed stirred, shining dully in the bright light.
"About what? I haven't done anything!" She almost shrieked, if her voice hadn't cracked after the first question.
The judge moved closer to the bed. He was standing almost on top of her, leaning over the bed to look into her face. "You really can't remember can you? Ah, well... I might as well tell you now. There is no reason not to tell you." The judge paused. His eyes crinkled around the edges, but he did not smile.
"You are on trial for the murder of Jeanie Daniels."
Jeanie began to laugh. "This is crazy...I'm Jeanie Daniels. There must be some sort of mistake"
"There is no mistake Jeanie, look at your wrists." He said as he pulled back the covers.
Jeanie looked down, past the white waffle weave gown that covered her chest and arms, at the bandages surrounding her wrists. Spots of red stained the inside of each wrist. She began to laugh even harder as tears began to seep onto her face, her laughter a choking cough. She laid her head back, tears streaming down the side of her head. And she laughed because she knew. She knew she was guilty.