They all look at me in shock. Mum, Dad, the officers. They all seem to say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’ But a very small piece of me understands the situation. It’s not their situation to judge: it’s mine.
Officer Nile speaks first. “Miss Sullivan. Your information could put this man behind bars. Bring justice to the nation.”
“Sure,” I shrug, trying not to make eye contact with any of them. “But I’ll look at these pictures for you. Though mind you, if they aren’t mine then I’ll probably withdraw my case.”
I notice that Dad’s fists are clenched into fists. “This piece of scum has manipulated you, dear, you cannot let him get away with…”
“-He won’t get away with anything that he’s done, though,” I protest, a tinge of annoyance in my voice. “What’s one other person to this case? There are loads of girls in the same sort of position as me.”
“Let my girl have her opinion. Let her make her own decisions.” Neil cuts in, eyeing up the people in the room with almost disgust. Well, except for me. “She’s clearly capable.”
As much as I appreciate Neil’s input, it only makes Dad flare up even more. “Clearly this whole thing has shown us that she has the mind of a five year old.”
I walk towards the door. “I can’t listen to this. Officer Nile, you mind showing me those…pictures?” I mentally slap myself, for the casualness of the sentence. These are other girls’ bodies, stripped down in a way only someone they truly care about (and who cares about them) should actually see. Now these intimate pictures are in the hands of police officers (which, most of them are probably perverted and/or corrupted).
The other officers straighten up, and follow Nile’s lead, as he stands up and holds the door open for me. A small part of me freaks out at the thought of my parents lashing out. Not because he’s incapable of defending himself. After all, he has done it well enough to convince me the truth is not the whole truth.
We settle down in the good ol’ room of justice, and I’m handed a cup of sweet tea. As if it’ll make the situation sweet, at all.
Officer Nile flicks through the photos casually. I look down, checking that he is not one of the perverts. Luckily, nothing is standing attention. He nods to himself, then hands the file to one of the female officers, and heads out of the room. She then hands them to me. There are only a few, about three. I soon understand this is because they all match my skin tone.
Number one. The girl has a smirk on her face, but there’s no light in her eyes. Just nerves. I understand her emotions, too well, and for a second I wonder if it’s me. But then I realise I do not have a birthmark on my stomach.
Number two. A girl with an absolutely gorgeous, curvy figure is in a very provocative position. Legs wide. Red lipstick. I can hear a few awkward shuffles from the female officers behind me as I put the photo behind the rest of the batch.
I stare at the photo. The background is too dim, so I can’t place her surroundings. I then ask to use my phone, as I know the pictures are on there. Of me. Isn’t it bad that I can’t tell what is and isn’t my face?
The pictures load up. I look back and forth and back and forth. I know, I just know. The waist attaches to the same hips; the smooth curve that outlines the hipbones…it’s all there. It’s so incredibly unnerving. Though I should have been expecting it, of course. Neil’s one of those people who are snakes, and I am now just so sorry I let myself trust him, at all. How does that old saying go? ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.’ I made my parents so worried and now this.
My heart drops to the floor. The police officer steps on it, as she steps forward to take the photos back. “Are you okay?” There’s concerned etched in her forehead, but the question still kind of angers me.
“No,” I answer shortly. Once I get out of my chair, I reach the door, turn around and say, “But I will be.”
None of the officers, male or female, stop me as I storm towards the jail cells. I’m not sure whether this is because it’s not in their orders to chasw down angry teenager girls, or because they want to see it all go down.
My parents jump back as I swing the door open. Neil looks at me, at first with curiosity, and then sudden realisation.
“You absolute bastard, Neil.”