They gave me a ridiculously long, shapeless black dress to wear, which made me trip all the way to the court. Two guards held me firmly by the arms, and suddenly I was glad about that. At least I wouldn’t drop on the floor.
The court was a high, dark building. Some daylight fought its way inside, but there was only big window, placed directly above the main jury. I figured it was done like that to create a dramatic atmosphere. Not very original, I thought. But I see through it. The thought somehow consoled me a little bit.
The judge was an old, partially bald man with a sharp nose and cold eyes. He wore a black dress as well it seemed, or something that resembled it at least. How does one get a job like this? He’s probably frustrated because he had always been too shy to talk to women, I decided. I imagined him in a bar, unable to find the right words to talk to that pretty brunette with the cute smile. Seemingly humble I bowed my head, but inside I was grinning.
“Nina?” he suddenly said. The room got quiet. All men in black were staring at me. I looked up.
Bring it on.
“Yes”, I said. The judge looked at me with angry eyes. Was I not supposed to speak? Then someone should have told me.
“We have come here to look at your punishment and to decide upon new ones, or, in the best case, the abolition of it.”
I nodded, but at the same time thought: Punishment? What punishment?
“Are you sorry?”
That was unexpected.
The judge took a deep, disapproving breath.
“Apparently you are not sorry.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
“You’re only regret is that you don’t understand?” He smiled bitterly, then continued talking to the men in black surrounding me. “I don’t think it’s time to stop the punishment.”
Some men mumbled in agreement. It was too dark to see their faces and that annoyed me.
Oh, that seems to have worked.
“But apparently that wasn’t enough. So as soon as we saw you wanted to go to Russia, we delayed everything. In short, your punishment is broken hope.”
I bowed my head again.
“As you still seem to refuse to show remorse, we might need to refuse to let you go to Russia.”
“On what grounds then?” I tried again. The evil judge gave me a death stare. The light grew weaker and I barely saw anything anymore. I looked at my hands clawing in my black dress.
“I think we haven’t made our point clear yet”, the judge said. Some more muttering in the court. Heads nodding. I sighed. How was it possible that I was being punished without knowing why? Apparently they wanted me to figure that out by myself, but I couldn’t find a single thing I had intentionally done wrong. Of course I wasn’t a saint, but who is? And yet it didn’t matter. The punishment would go on.
“Unless now you show remorse. We grant you one more chance.”
I didn’t even try to say anything anymore.
“Get her out.”
The guards took me by my arms again. I lifted my dress, turned around and started walking away. Daylight was still forcing its way in. It appeared to be a sunny day. Right before the guards would let go of my arms, I turned to them.
“Do you have any wine for me?”