Cecily Carter left the courtroom in a daze, finding it hard to believe that she had been exonerated after three years of incarceration. Her blue eyes wore a vacant look and she didn’t cringe when reporters mobbed her. Soon she stood surrounded by flashing lights, bombarded by questions. She found herself imprisoned once more, this time by human bodies.
But she was only dimly aware of them. Her breath caught in her throat as one of them grabbed her by the arm, squeezing it insistently while his mouth formed a question: “How does it feel to be free?” Free! Was she really free? Stifled by the press of warm bodies, her knees began to wobble beneath her. Vertigo seized her with a terrifying intensity.
Through the buzzing in her head she heard a familiar voice call her name and turned amid the press of reporters. Her eyes brightened when she recognized the tall form of her brother Ted shoving his way through the crowd. He was before her suddenly and she sprang at him with a cry of joy, burying her head in his broad shoulder while he wrapped strong arms about her. “Cecy, baby, it’s alright,” he crooned softly. “You’re going home now. As soon as we can get free of this mob,” he said, with a flash of anger. “Let us through!” he shouted, struggling to make a path through the crowd. “She’ll give you an interview later.”
“I said that to pacify them,” he whispered in her ear, as he half carried, half dragged her toward a waiting vehicle. Inside she found her dad at the wheel, and he gunned the engine, nearly toppling several reporters who were clinging to the car. Her mother turned then and smiled at her and Cecy’s face collapsed into a flood of tears.
“I’m O.K.” she reassured them finally, laughing as she mopped her eyes with Ted‘s handkerchief. “It’s such a relief to know the trial is over and I’m finally going home. I’ve dreamed about this moment all through my years in prison, willing it to happen.“ She paused for a moment. “How are the kids?” she asked, searching Ted’s face.
“Relax, they’re fine. Emily’s with them. We thought you might need some quiet time with Mom and Dad before you reclaimed your kids. And you can stay with Em and me until you find a job and a new place to live. We’re going to stop for pizza, then have lunch at Mom & Dad‘s. Afterwards you might want to rest and take a nap. We’ll ditch these reporters now. They won’t be expecting you to leave the city.”
Later that night, Ted came into Cecily’s room while she unpacked her few clothes and things. The first thing she brought out was a Bible. Ted’s eyebrows shot up. “What’s that? Don’t tell me you’ve got religion. You’ve never been a religious person; we’ve never believed in that bunk!”
“It isn’t bunk,” she cried defensively. “My faith in God’s the only thing that pulled me through those years in prison. I cried a lot at first; I missed the kids so much. Although it really was a comfort to know my family didn’t believe I’d killed Carl, still I felt guilty, ashamed that there were times I wanted to kill him. It wasn’t just that he beat me up; I was so afraid he would harm the kids. Sitting there in prison day after day, life seemed hopeless. I was consumed with bitterness until the day I opened this Bible and Jesus met me in the book of John.”
“How do you mean, met you?” Ted looked bewildered.
“Just what I said. He entered my cell when I knelt to pray and asked him to take away my guilt and make me a new person. I wanted to be able to love again. New life is what I asked for and that’s what He gave me -- a full pardon, a sense of peace. I received His pardon long before the new evidence that brought me back to court for a retrial. Jesus gave me this verse, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJ)
“And that really helped?”
“It was all that I needed.”
“Amazing!” said Ted, examining the Bible with reverence. “I think I’ve got some serious reading to do.”
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