Shattered

Shattered (verb): to break something into pieces, to damage as by breaking or crushing to impair or destroy, to be broken into fragments.
Hollie loved words, she had ever since she could remember. It was something many found irritating. Until she met Jack.

Jack’s world suddenly comes crashing down with a knock at the door and a ghost from the past he tried to keep hidden returns to haunt him.
Hollie doesn’t know what to believe and where to turn. Will the ghosts shatter their perfect life or will it make them stronger?

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8. Eight

A Few Weeks Later

 

    I stare at the letter telling me that both Sam and I are now on Jack’s visit list for prison. I don’t even know how Sam talked me into going to see him, I don’t really want to, and I know he doesn’t really want to. What we said about moving forward and ignoring it all has suddenly been shot to sunshine and apparently the letters and calls aren’t going to stop until we do. I glance at my phone, waiting for the news – Sam’s waiting to hear if he’s passed his final exams and whether he’s gotten into the Foundation Programme to ‘be a proper doctor’ as they say. It’s been weird, the past month or so. I’ve given up the tenancy on mine and Jack’s old flat, which thankfully, once I embarrassingly explained the situation to the landlord, she let me off and gave me a week to move out, and I ended up moving in with Sam. Something I never thought I’d do – live without Jack. Finally getting hold of his parents, I gave them his belongings, told them which prison he’s in and left again. The ring has been sold and I’ve kept the deposit on the flat seeing as he’s put me through all of this. People are still talking, laughing and gossiping about it, and me. Yet I’ve defied all of them and I’m waiting for my dissertation results.

    “Hello?” I answer the phone buzzing in my hands.

    “I got it,” Sam’s voice breathes down the phone. A smile breaks out on my face and we both laugh at the same time.

    “Well done!” I say. “I told you that you’d get it!”

    “Well, I hate to be modest, but… I know,” Sam jokes. I laugh. “I’ll be home in a bit.”

    “Don’t panic, just let me know,” I say.

    “Will do, love you,” he says.

    “I love you too,” I say and hang up, immediately feeling that bad feeling. Whenever I think about me now being with Sam, I get this swirling sickness in my stomach feeling awful about it. I remember telling Jack that it was time to have a break, and then sending a letter back to him in prison telling him that I couldn’t ever be with him again, that I’d gotten out of the flat and I wanted a clean break from him. I remember Sam reading me the subsequent reply from him telling me how unfair that was when he was completely innocent, and that while it was fine for now, when he was out of prison he wouldn’t stop fighting for me back and what we used to have. I remember when Sam and I made what we have official and how guilty I felt, but even then, why shouldn’t I be happy when I haven’t done anything wrong? It was Jack that wronged us both and we just found a tiny bit of happiness in amongst all the crap he left us with.

    I open the other letter from the prison with a sigh. I know who this will be from, and I scan it, knowing Jack’s handwriting immediately. I read about how excited he is to be seeing us both tomorrow and how even though he doesn’t know where I now live, he wants Sam to tell me the same, that he can’t wait to see me, and how he’s innocent and he’s so sorry it’s come to this. I roll my eyes, really believing now that even Jack himself isn’t sure of what happened on that night anymore, and he’s totally convinced himself that he’s innocent, even if he’s not. He must know what happened, I’ve always sworn that even if he was drunk, he must have known what was going on and whether or not she gave her consent, or even if she could or not. He’s not a stupid man, he was, or is, I don’t even know, a trainee doctor. I reckon ever since it happened he’s been in denial because he knew he’d cheated on me, and convinced himself it didn’t happen, then she accused him of raping her, and because of that he’s told himself whatever happened, it wasn’t that. He’s said it so much he’s convinced himself of some kind of story of what happened and now he can’t differentiate between what happened in reality and what happened in his story. I don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t want to go tomorrow, I don’t want to listen to him or see him or speak to him. The last time I saw him he was being arrested and he whined how it was the wrong decision and she was a liar. I just dread how he is going to react when he realises his best friend and ex-fiancée are together as well. Not that he has a leg to stand on after what he’s done, and potentially done, but even so, it won’t be pretty. I just thought that time would be the last time I ever saw Jack, and I was content with that idea, even though I have been told I’ll probably have to give evidence at the trial or whatever, but I had resigned myself and come to terms with the fact it was all over with him, and now it’s been thrown out the window. I don’t want to see him or drag it up. Even though the sand is still not settled on it, I’m happy with the small happiness I’ve carved out of what happened with Sam and I don’t want anything to happen to that, and I’m scared if I let Jack back in, even if it’s just a small visit to him in prison, it’ll be ruined.

 

    It's strange, sitting beside Sam and opposite Jack. It’s strange seeing him and not even wanting to kiss or cuddle him. It’s strange sitting here and noticing how slimmer he’s got in a matter of weeks, how ill he looks and how tired he looks, and it’s strange that I just don’t seem to care. In fact, a small part of me is revelling in that. It serves him right for what he’s done. He should suffer like this. But then a part of me also thinks that he hasn’t actually been found guilty yet, so why are they treating him as if he has had a trial and been found guilty? I thought the premise in this country was “innocent until proven guilty”, so why is he treated guilty when he hasn’t been proven so yet? What a cruel system. They’ll say he’s being kept in prison until trial because of the nature of the accusation and that he is a threat to society, and that he could run away and never come back for his trial. But really, the Jack I knew wouldn’t ever do that. But I don’t really know him like I thought I did. If I did, I wouldn’t be sitting here, shocked to the core that this is even happening.

    “Thanks for coming,” Jack says, breaking the minutes silence that seemed to have hovered over us.

    “Why do you want to see us, Jack?” Sam asks, getting straight to the point. Before we came in here, the agreement was to ‘take no shit’ and to get this over with as painlessly and quickly as possible. We likened it to ripping a plaster off – it has to be done, and the quicker and the less fuss we make the better and painless it will be.

    “I just haven’t seen either of you … well since this began, so I wanted to see my fiancée and my best friend again,” Jack says innocently. I chance a look at him and see those eyes staring at Sam, and the more and more I look at them, the more and more angrier I get. I was right, he has totally and undeniably driven himself crazy and convinced himself that he is innocent and that nothing happened. I can see it. He truly believes that I still have the intention of marrying him.

    “Jack… I don’t know if you have quite understood this yet or not… but I am not marrying you anymore,” I say gently and quietly. I watch as my words sink into his sunken eyes and he realises what I’ve said. He’s been in denial the entire time, and something inside me breaks. I’ve already done this dance before, I’ve had the heartbreak, I’ve done the mourning over what he’s done and what he’s put me through. I’ve done the chocolate cake and the break up songs. He hasn’t. And he’s been in denial about this since I’ve told him. And to say it doesn’t hurt me would be a lie.

    But I didn’t come here for this. I glance at Sam beside me, who’s equally as confused about him as I am, and we both blink in acknowledgement of each other before Jack sighs.

    “I can’t say I’m surprised given what she’s accused me of. But, Hollie, you know I would never, ever do something like that, don’t you? You know me better than that, sweetheart, don’t you?” Jack croons and his voice sounds like a child. I lower my eyes and shake my head at him. “What… what does that shake of the head mean?”

    “Jack… look, whatever happened, whatever happens, I can’t be with you. I can’t say for sure what I believe anymore, and I think it’s best if we have no contact anymore, okay?” I say, not even sure how best to say it anymore. It’s like the plaster isn’t it, you have to just rip it off sometimes. Little pain, better gain.

    “You… Hollie, I…” Jack stops speaking and I can tell he really hasn’t been listening all along. He has truly been telling himself that everything is okay between us. I hate to imagine what else he’s been convincing himself of while he’s been in here. Again, probably the innocence thing.

    “Look, I’m sorry okay? But I think it’s for the best we aren’t together. You know I’ve moved out and gotten rid of the flat. Your parents have your stuff… it’s just… for the best okay?” I say slowly. It’s like talking to a child, trying to tell them that things that may not seem good to you sometimes happen for the best, and in time they’ll see it. Probably not in Jack’s case though.

    “You’ll see, Hollie, when I’m out of here and this all blows over, you’ll see what a mistake that is. I’ll win you back, don’t you worry,” Jack says. I watch him sit back in his seat, a small smile on his face of confidence. That seals the deal for me: something is wrong with him mentally. Something since that night and since his arrest has changed in him and made him unwell mentally. He’s convincing himself that everything will be fine, that he’s innocent and because of that he’ll get justice for himself. I suppose that’s how he’s surviving through it all, because as much as what happened is down to him and his drunken urges, he still must be going through some shite. And if the TV notion of British prisons are anything to go by – which I know they aren’t, but I’ve never seen the proper thing – it can’t be easy, whether he is guilty or innocent.

    “Jack, I think you need to listen to me a second,” Sam pipes up. I give him a side glance and he shoots one back telling me to be quiet. Jack looks at him with a serious look in his eyes. “Hollie… Hollie means it, Jack. She does not want to be with you anymore.”

    “I think Hollie can talk for herself,” Jack fires back. I roll my eyes and let Sam handle this one. This visit, as short as it’s been so far, has sealed it for me. I don’t want anything more to do with this than I have to. I’ll probably be called as a witness because I was with him at the time, but other than that? No. I’m done.

    “I’m doing it for now, because you need to listen to me,” Sam says, treating him like the child he’s acting as. Jack watches him closely, and I watch his eyes darken in seriousness. “Look, I didn’t want to have to mention this, but Hollie does not want to be with you. She is with someone else.”

    “Sam,” I warn quietly but he quickly shushes me with a warning finger.

    “Seeing… someone else?” Jack repeats, more to himself to try and get his head around the idea.

    “Yes, she is. After what happened, Hollie does not believe it’s best that you and her are together anymore,” Sam says slowly. I internally sigh, this is ridiculous. “She’s moved on, for her happiness and that’s it. You need to leave her alone now, okay?”

    I watch Jack let it sink it properly. Anger, upset, heartbreak.

    “Who is he, Hollie? Who do I need…”

    “Me,” Sam cuts Jack off and I sit back in my seat. Keeping quiet is the best option I think. I watch between the two of them as they exchange glares. “Hollie and I have been… supporting each other recently and we’ve decided to take things between us further. I don’t expect you to be happy about it, but I would like you to respect…”

    “You’re asking me for respect? When you’ve stolen….”

    “He hasn’t stolen anything, Jack. Grow up. I broke up with you when you decided to pull this… disgusting act on people. You got yourself into this mess, you decided to sleep with her, drunk, and cheat on me, Jack. This is all on you. Whether the jury find you guilty or not, you fucked life up for yourself. Do you know what people around town say about us? About the best friend of an accused rapist? The girlfriend of an accused rapist? They laugh at us, Jack. They think I helped you, that Sam poached her for you. They think we’re just as bad as you are, when actually all we’ve ever done is be decent human beings. So yeah, I’ve broken up with you. I’ve sold the ring you gave me, moved house and I’m with Sam. I don’t want anything to do with you, Jack. Not after what you’ve done,” I snap quietly.

    He sits back and I watch the hurt make its way into his expression. Finally he understands.

    “I’ll prove my innocence to you both, and then you’ll understand what the truth is,” is all Jack can manage.

    “You do that,” Sam says and he scrapes his chair back, standing up and looking at me. “Shall we? I think we’re done here.”  I don’t say anything, I take one quick glance at Jack’s pathetic look. He slumps in the chair, huffing like a child and doesn’t even acknowledge me. I look back at Sam and nod, moving my chair without a noise and standing up.

    “I’ll always love you, Hollie, and I will win you back when you hear about the truth,” Jack calls. I don’t even look back at him, I take Sam’s hand and exit the prison without another look.

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