Fair

Solemnly, the seven little lawyers looked down at her. Even comatose in her hospital bed, she was so beautiful—her skin, white as snow; her lips, red as blood; her hair, black as ebony.

“Who are we meeting with,” the first little lawyer whispered, “the girl’s mother?”

“Her stepmother,” the second little lawyer whispered.

“Apparently,” the third little lawyer whispered, “the girl’s mother died during childbirth—”

In one of those perfectly formatted fairy tales ancient Europeans created back in the old countries to teach their children lessons, the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh little lawyers would have each had the time to add a detail. But modern Americans, such as this stepmother, weren’t that patient. So she disrupted the carefully crafted scene by bursting through the door.

“Such little lawyers,” the stepmother sneered, “for such a big pharmaceutical comp—”

“We are not here today to talk about our short statures,” the first little lawyer interrupted. “We are here today to talk about what is fair.”

“What is fair is my stepdaughter’s skin, thanks to your company’s prod—”

“Our product’s responsibility for your stepdaughter’s current condition,” the second little lawyer interrupted, “is far from proven at this point.”

“These sorts of side effects are announced at the end of your company’s commercials,” the stepmother responded. “We watched them toget—”

“So you are admitting,” the third little lawyer interrupted, “that you and your stepdaughter were aware of the fact that our company’s product could – in rare cases – cause a coma?”

Aware of? Not only was she aware of these sorts of side effects, she was scared of them. ‘This product can cause a coma!’ she shouted. ‘But your skin!” I shouted.”

Excited at the prospect of finally contributing to the conversation, the fourth little lawyer was about to interrupt the stepmother, too. But then the first little lawyer yanked him – and their five fellow little lawyers – into a hushed huddle, instead. As soon as their muted murmurs stopped, the first little lawyer took the lead again – much to the chagrin of the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh.

“Well, we do not see how you have a case here. You freely admit that you and your stepdaughter were aware that these sorts of side effects—”

But, this time, it was the stepmother’s turn to interrupt. “A case? But I am not here today because I want to sue.”

“Then why are you here today?”

“To work out an endorsement deal. I mean, look at her skin: white as snow.”

No longer so solemn, the seven little lawyers looked down at her. Even comatose in her hospital bed, she was so beautiful.

The first little lawyer yanked his six fellow little lawyers into a second hushed huddle. As soon as their muted murmurs stopped, the first little lawyer wrote a number on a piece of paper.

“Do you consider this,” he handed it to the stepmother, “a fair offer?”

The stepmother smiled. “The fairest of them all,” she said.

“Fair” was originally published by Every Day Fiction in 2014.

 

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