The phone rang for the third time in ten minutes. Tsung did not, and could not, answer. He knew the numbers on the screen well enough. It belonged to his family lawyer, whose voice had become a familiar one in the past year. But all Tsung did, was stare.
For a month, he had already imagined the worst for his daughter Yue. He could not bear to hear the dreadful news stated in fact, and set in stone. What could anyone possibly say that might ease his heartache? His girl who had been innocent as a lamb, now only bore resemblance to the creature in their shared fate for slaughter.
Yue did not deserve death, for what she had done out of desperation. Her hand was forced. Had been, for years. In so many ways, it was my fault too, Tsung thought. If he had not let his daughter marry such a cruel someone like Matthew, she would never have known a day of violence, much less killed a man alone.
At court, Yue had told the honest truth. Of the dead man’s blood that ran black in a way a demon’s would. Her father was the only one who believed her. If Matthew had not been a monster, would he have left her with those bruises under her sleeves? Would he had caused those faint scars on her face, where his ring had cut her?
Outside the courthouse, Tsung attested to Yue’s innocence every day. She killed a demon to protect herself, the old man would say, there was nothing else she could’ve done. He called out to conspiracy theorists, passers-by, Gods, and anyone who would listen. It did not matter if people believed him to be as mad as his daughter was. Not even the threats of arrests could temper his grief.
Yet hope ebbed away. His protest was an echo unheard, in a world that favoured the loudest. If only he had been a man of power. If only he could make more people care enough to right this wrong. Still, the day of the sentencing came unfailingly. There was nothing he could do to stop his daughter’s hanging.
The phone rang again. It was the fourth time now. Tsung hesitated, his fingers hovering over the screen. There was a glimmer of faith, wasn’t there? Had his lawyer not told him about the innocent, who had eventually walked free? As fresh tears stood in his eyes, Tsung picked the call up with a trembling hand.
“They’ve found new evidence,” the attorney spoke first.
Silence followed, as though the line had cut.
“Pardon?” Tsung finally managed after what seemed like a full minute, his hoarse whisper revealing days of crying that left his throat sore.
“They’ve found favourable evidence,” his lawyer repeated, a seeming tired smile in his voice. “It was probable self-defence, and the judge has granted Yue a reprieve.”
Daily Prompt: Reprieve