Too many questions


She sat alone.

Sitting one corner of the crowded waiting room, she looked at no one.

No one looked at her.

And nearly every other person in every other chair were the family and friends whose quiet leisure ride through the country she upended in splintering wood and flying bodies that November day.

I questioned again this court, where she could sit just three feet from the father of the man who died, as minutes ticked past the hour point and we waited still for proceedings to finally begin.

And I wondered why she was alone.

She’s a grandmother, by age at least, and after a moment of distraction or of negligent carelessness (depending who you ask) took a life — she’s facing a felony charge.

Homicide by vehicle.

No husband, no son or daughter, no sister or brother or friend walked through those doors to sit with her.

They cried aloud when that day was recounted on the witness stand; how the cart had splintered into a million pieces; how the horse had flipped and man flew out into the air, crashing against the pavement as the life ebbed out of him. The mother clung to the girlfriend and the grandmother wept silently and the father kept his face frozen, an aching pain written across it more clearly than tears could express.

I couldn’t see her face, but she didn’t move.

And later she searched through her cavernous bag while a police officer testified of the scene he encountered and the judge glanced at her, papers rustling.

They said she was stoic when she asked whether she had killed him. She was certainly stoic in court.

I wondered at that. If it had been I who had crashed into them that day, I think… but maybe I would freeze too, go numb. Maybe the years written harshly on her face have taught her stoicism.

They reached for each other during testimony, and outside on the sidewalk they grouped again. It’s over, I imagine they said. Over for now, until the trial. You OK now?

She stood alone with her attorney.

And I wondered why.

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