Everything is red.

Red on the floor, the walls, my hands… I am sobbing, a wreck, thinking this can’t be happening. I push my bloodstained hands through my hair and am numb to the smothering feel of the sticky fluid. My beloved wife, cold and lifeless on the unforgiving ground…

I snap out of the vivid flashback as my lawyer Ms. Reus steps out of the trial room, her face unreadable. Ms. Reus is defending me against the horrible accusation of the murder of my own wife.

I can feel the beat of my hammering heart throughout my entire body as I wait for her to convey the results of the trial. I wasn’t allowed to be present for the decision of the jury, and I have been waiting here a quivering wreck, frantic for any news. Her thin lips spread in a small smile as she says the one word I desperately need to hear: “Innocent”.

The tension rushes out of my body as I relax muscles I don’t realize are tensed.

“Since you were in jail before your trial, you have to get a routine antibiotics injection, then you are free to go. I’ll take you to the doctor’s office.” Her pretty smile is still plastered on her face as I follow her down the hall.

Emotions flash through my head as we go… stabbing grief for my wife, red-hot anger at whoever killed her, and optimism in my plans for the future. I have a young daughter at home, and I now have to be strong as ever for her sake. I’ll work hard to provide her with the life she deserves.

I’ll rebuild the relationship with my mother, who I haven’t talked to since we had a falling-out 15 years ago. Arguments that broke us apart seem trivial now that someone I care so deeply for has been ripped from my life.

“I’m going to work hard to repair my life,” I blurt out to my lawyer. “My wife’s murder is a message to me that… life is short. I should be focusing on things that matter, like providing a solid future for my daughter.”

I get a solemn nod, and I am sensing a shift in mood from this kind woman. Maybe it’s the toll of the trial – the jury deliberated for six hours before they delivered the verdict. The prosecutor had a convincing case, including supposed motive – I’m struggling financially, and I will receive a substantial amount of money from my wife’s life insurance. My lack of a solid alibi and my discovery of my wife’s dead body didn’t help my case.

“We’re here,” declares Ms. Reus, showing me through a door. I walk inside to see a doctor’s office with a patient’s table, medical charts, and medical equipment. I thank her as she makes a brisk exit, and a doctor accompanied by a medical student enter the room.

“Alright sir, let’s make this quick,” says the doctor, her face expressionless. I lie on the table with only a thin sheet to separate my skin from the cool metal and watch as she instructs the younger man on filling up two needles. I can’t wait to get home to my daughter and forge a better future for us.

The doctor marks a vein on each of my arms, and together she and her apprentice hold the needles to the marked spots. “You will feel a slight pinching sensation as we inject the antibiotics, and it’ll be over,” explains the doctor in a voice devoid of emotion.

“Sure doc, I just want to go home to my daughter,” I respond as I relax against the table. I feel a flash of pain, a bleak calm, and everything goes black.

“What was this one guilty of?” The student asks his mentor.

“He murdered his wife. It was a brutal case, and I heard the jury had a hard time coming to a conclusion. Now his daughter is an orphan…”

A pause.

“However, that is not our concern. We make the wicked people pay for their crimes. Our law dictates that this is the way we must carry it out… murderers are punished with the death sentence, they just don’t see it coming, because we tell them they are innocent.” They gaze upon the body of the young man on the table, the hopeful light in his eyes snuffed out like a fallen star.