It stood there, a monochrome structure, unusual in appearance as tourists and curiosity seekers descended upon its immaculate grounds like a swarm of locusts. They came every year to see if it would cave in. The owners of the property were determined that it never would. As long as it remained standing, the money would keep coming in. They made sure it was properly maintained and repaired.
They didn’t, however, imagine that their cash cow would one day go up in flames. It turned out that the caretaker set the house on fire in an attempt to cover up the accidental death of his girlfriend. Following a heated argument in his office, he struck her in a fit of rage and she fell, hitting her head against the concrete wall.
Panicking, he grabbed a can of kerosene and doused the place, set the flammable liquid on fire and then fled. Riddled with guilt and remorse, he turned himself in a couple of days later. He is serving time in jail for assault, involuntary manslaughter, destroying and concealing evidence and arson.
Tourists still flock to see the burnt remains of the house. Donations are flooding in for its rebuilding. The owners are raking in more money now than before. They are hoping to have the new structure finished by the year 2021.
I stood there, gazing at the city across the bay. Somewhere in that concrete jungle was the prison where I spent fifteen years before I was granted clemency and released on parole. It felt good to be standing there in the open, the sun hitting my face and listening to the lapping water. It felt good not being behind bars.
When I turned sixteen, I never thought I’d wind up in prison. My life changed when I killed Mick, the man who forced me to prostitute myself. I was a victim of sex trafficking but I was treated like a criminal and sentenced to life, a sentence which the governor now considers to be too harsh. Thanks to the celebrities who came to my defense, I’m standing here now.
I didn’t want to kill Mick but I feared for my life. He would have killed me that night if I hadn’t defended myself. I don’t hate him. It wouldn’t do me any good. I want to focus on rebuilding my life. While in prison, I earned my Associate’s Degree. I know that opportunity came from God. I thought my life was over but, it’s not.
This story was inspired by the true story of Cyntoia Brown who was arrested and charged with homicide of Johnny Allen who offered to have paid sex with her. She was accused of murder and robbery and sentenced to life.
This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here. To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.