“Why are we here?” The judge asked, his voice was gravelly and hinted at annoyance. He turned his head to look at the witness that was in the box next to him. Her blond hair was pulled into a ponytail and the suit she was wearing had obviously been something that her lawyer had told her to wear. “Will you please answer the question young lady?”
“Yes, Your Honor.” She pretended to smooth down a wrinkle on her pants, then looked up at him, and then out into the courtroom. Her gaze fell on her parents. “We are here today because my parents, Michael and Patricia Smith are refusing to pay my college tuition, my living expenses, and have reallocated money that was intended to help pay for my wedding to my mother’s plastic surgery.”
“Malarkey!” Michael shouted from his chair, his rotund face turning red.
“Be quiet Mr. Smith; you will have your chance on the stand.” The Judge ordered. This was not a case that he wanted to take on but there was no choice, and despite his misgivings about the case, the girl had sound legal reasoning for the lawsuit against her parents. “Please continue Ms. Smith.”
“They say it’s because I’m rebellious and don’t want to follow their rules but that’s not true! It’s because I want to make my own choices, date who I want to date and choose my own major in school. The whole situation started when I told my Mom that I didn’t want to be a teacher that I wanted to do something else with my life. She yelled at me in front of everyone in the store, she called me names that nobody should ever be called by their parents.” She wiped a tear from her eyes. “This whole situation started when they found out that I was dating Dean. He’s black and my parents are racists, they think that each race should date within their own. If I was with a white man, then there wouldn’t be an issue. I’m not rebellious; I just won’t let their prejudices break up my relationship.”
“You may step down.” The Judge said as the testimony began circling his mind. “Mrs. Smith, will you please take the stand.”
Mother and daughter passed each other; a chill filled the air as they exchanged looks. Patricia took the stand and looked directly at her daughter. When instructed she promised to tell the truth with her hand placed on the bible. “Your Honor, my husband and I are not racists. As a matter of fact, some of our best friends happen to be people of color. Just because we don’t like one black boy doesn’t make us bad people, it makes us parents. We have to look out for our daughter, we have to protect her but we can’t now because she has moved away from us.”
“Mrs. Smith it is customary for the witness to wait to be asked a question before they start talking.” The Judge growled. Patricia’s face dropped, her eyes shot to her husband. Slowly her gaze made its way to her daughter, the look of pain, anger, and worry painted her face. “Why did you cut your daughter off?”
“Stephanie has always been such a strong-headed girl. When she was younger she told me that she wanted to be an actress, when I told her it wasn’t practical she went out and auditioned for a church play without my consent. When she landed the role, she made sure that I knew that she was right and I was wrong. Then one day she told me she wanted to be a teacher, she wanted to be just like her Grandma. Everything in her life became about becoming a teacher,” Patricia paused and took a deep breath. “And then this, this Dean boy came into her life and it became about having a baby and being married. I just want her to know that she is more than a housewife, she can be whatever she wants to be.” She turned her attention to Stephanie. “Honey you can so much more, don’t make the same mistake I did!”
Before she was dismissed, Patricia left the stand and out of the courtroom in tears. The Judge thought about having her brought back in but decided against it. Instead, “Mr. Smith would you like to take the stand?”
With heavy footsteps and loud breaths, Michael made his way to the stand. He made the same promise of truthfulness that his wife and daughter had made. His attention was focused solely on his daughter; in fact, he missed the Judge asking him a question. “I don’t see why my hard-earned money should be given to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Many times over the last few months, I have been called at various times of the evening because my daughter was too drunk to drive or she was doing things that she shouldn’t have been. It all started with that boyfriend of hers and I refuse, REFUSE to fund any kind of house for them. If she wants to stay in school and work towards a goal, then I will gladly help her but not while she is out of control.”
Michael excused himself. The Judge contemplated everything that was said, along with the evidence that had been presented at the beginning of the trial. He made his decision, “While I agree with everything that Mr. and Mrs. Smith said, the law says that you must take care of your child until she is 21. I am awarding Stephanie Smith the amount of $50 a month for the next year and her college tuition. If you need more money, the young lady then you need to go out and get a job.”
After he dismissed the case, The Judge had a sad realization. He realized that this family would never be whole again.
Unbeknownst to him, they had fallen apart. They were unrecognizable to themselves.