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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4. Four

    I close the door of the flat to be welcomed to the aroma of cooking. I roll my eyes – does he really think I wouldn’t find out? Does he think dinner will mend everything? I walk into the kitchen and put my bag down.

    “Hollie, I…”

    “No,” I say simply and take my coat off.

    “Don’t you think we need to talk about this? Properly?” he questions and I sigh.

    “What happened at uni?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

    “Suspended from working pending the investigation, but I’m allowed to attend uni itself,” he says. “So either way, I suppose it’s better than full suspension.”

    I watch him stir the chilli he’s cooking and I scoff. “Better? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

    “What? It’s a small victory isn’t it?”

    “Lying to me about when and how this happened is a small victory is it? You call suspension from your course a small victory? You’ve lied and cheated, Jack. Why didn’t you tell me about it? Last month this happened. Instead of digging a bigger lie why didn’t you just man up and tell me about it?” I demand and he sighs, knowing there’s no way out of it this time.

    “I didn’t think it would get this far that you’d find out… it was a stupid, stupid mistake,” he says.

    “One that could lose you your degree, your job and your life,” I say.

    “I know that now,” he says and I laugh.

    “Yeah, now,” I say. “This isn’t just about… you cheated on me, Jack. What the hell? Why didn’t you just be a man and tell me? Why did you lie, even after being questioned by the police? For the love of God, Jack, this is the worst thing… do you even know what this means? Even if they don’t charge you… this is basically on you for the rest of your life, Jack.”

    “And I didn’t do anything!”

    “But you told me you slept with her,” I say, folding my arms.

    “Yeah…”

    “Exactly. This isn’t about whether you had sex with her or not. This is about consent. She is saying, well I don’t know exactly what she is saying, but this is basically saying that she was too drunk to consent, and whether she said ‘no’ or not. If she said no, you committed a crime. She was also too drunk, Jack. When you’re drunk, whether you like it or not, a woman cannot consent.” The void of silence engulfs the flat then. I can hear the tick of the clock, the dinner boiling away on the hob, and the acknowledgement, finally, from Jack that this is serious.

    “If she had said no…”

    “That’s the point, Jack, if she had said no. Do you remember it? Did you register how intoxicated she was? Was she asleep? Was she far too drunk to do anything but sleep?” I say and he looks at the floor. Something happened and as he turns the dinner off and gets some plates out, I can determine that he knows that I know he is hiding something. I sigh deeply. “If you don’t want to tell me, Jack, that is your choice, but I am just as entangled in this as you and she is. You cheated on me, you lied to me, you could be convicted for this and sent to prison. I am a part of your life, and by that, a part of this. I will find out what happened, and whether that’s because I’m sat in that court room if it gets that far, or whether you tell me, it will come out.”

    I grab my bag and spin on my heel, walking out of the front door. I listen as I walk but can’t hear one call of protest from him. That just about tells it all really.

 

    “What’s happened, Hollie?” Emma asks. I glance at my friend as she sets a coffee in front of me and she sighs, telling me that she’s already heard.

    “You know what’s happened,” I say.

    “Yeah… if it’s about the accusation. It’s all around campus by now,” she says honestly. I sigh. “I think it’s people who know her spreading it around and then they realise that Jack is with you, and well, it’s probably around both bloody uni’s by now.”

    “I just…” I stop speaking. I shouldn’t be giving details about it, I know that. It’s a live investigation and all that jumbo you hear on the TV. But I don’t know what else to do, or where to turn.

    “You can tell me, Hollie, honestly. What’s going on?” she asks.

    “He told me that they slept together, he knows that much. But they were both drunk, and he told me if he hadn’t got the consent, he wouldn’t have done it,” I explain. “But… I just, well he cheated on me. Either way, whether he is guilty or not, he still did it, while we were together. And to think he could get so drunk he slept with someone else… it’s disgusting. And he… the fact remains doesn’t it? It’s about whether she could say yes or not. I may not be doing a degree on crime or law, but it’s common sense isn’t it? Well, I thought it was. I don’t know who he is anymore. In the space of twenty four hours, he’s become a stranger.”

    “It’ll be okay,” Emma says and I take a sip of the coffee. “Look, the bottom line is that something happened, didn’t it? I know how shit it must be, but you know the truth. Sort of.”

    “But what if she was too drunk? I mean, that makes him guilty of rape. That would mean everything I’ve built up with him is a lie. I… he will be struck off from completing university, which means he’ll never become a doctor, it’ll be on his record forever, he’ll go to jail… let alone what people will think. Not to mention… could he do the same to me?”

     Emma puts her hand on mine. “This is going to sound strange, especially coming from me right now. But has Jack ever done something like that to you? Ever?”

     I shake my head in response.

    “Exactly. The fact is only two people know what happened that night, Hollie. Deep down he knows what he has or has not done. Whether he is guilty or not, he was drunk. It was probably a mistake, these types of cases are always a judgement call, an error on someone’s part. He isn’t accused of going down an alley and being violent. He has never been that type of person. I mean, yeah, he is going to be slaughtered and called a violent rapist and conform to that stereotype until the truth comes out. But for now, you need to think about what you believe. Listen to what he says, tell the police the truth on your part. You know what he’s like to you, you know what he is like full stop. But only two people can know for sure what happened that night, or not in her case if she was that hammered. But we will find out,” she says. I take a sip of coffee before even looking at her.

    “I just can’t look at him without thinking about the what ifs. And his shifty attitude and not answering questions isn’t helping him either,” I say honestly. “I don’t know what happened, but he is acting guilty. He just can’t tell me the truth. Whether that’s because he doesn’t remember or whether because he’s hiding something, I don’t know.”

    “Either way, it’ll come out, he knows that just as much as we both do,” she says and I nod, finishing my drink.

    “I just never thought I’d be sitting here talking about how my fiancé has been accused of rape. I mean, he’s training to be a doctor for crying out loud,” I sigh.

    “I think you need to go home and work out what you’re going to do,” Emma tells me. I let out a long sigh and nod, gathering my stuff and standing up.

    “Thank you,” I say and she smiles at me in return.

 

    I open the front door to find all the lights off but the one in the bedroom. I put my bag on the table to find a letter from Jack written to me. Obviously something written assuming I wouldn’t be home tonight and in the hope I would see it before he sees me.

    I decide to leave it and walk into the bedroom to see him with his back to me, staring out the window to the town below.

    “What’s the letter about?” I ask blandly. He jumps at the sound of my voice – not expecting me back this early, obviously. He doesn’t turn around, which is something I hope he doesn’t. In all of this, even though I don’t yet know the full truth, I don’t think I can handle seeing his face, full of guilt and something I can’t quite put my finger on that’s eating away at him. Yet he’s not the one that’s suffering. Between myself and him, I’m the one he betrayed, whether is guilty of the crime or not, he still cheated on me, lied and hoped it would go away.

    “I didn’t think you’d be home. I just want…Hollie, I just want you to know the truth,” he says.

    “You mean you’re finally going to tell me what happened? The truth?” I ask, folding my arms and leaning against the doorframe.

    “The thing is… the thing is,” he stops and sighs, still staring out of the window.

    “Look, Jack, whether you want to tell me or not, I will find out. Whether it be you telling me, the police telling me or whether this goes to court and I find out there. It will be found out, and I will know. So you can keep up this charade that you have no idea what happened, or you can tell me. But until I get my head around this, I don’t think I can… I can barely look at you without feeling betrayed and sick. The accusation alone is enough to get you suspended from your course… what the hell do you think is going on behind your back? People are talking, Jack, and people will already think you’re guilty. Hell, she wouldn’t have gone to the police for no reason,” I say and he stays turned away. He sighs and buries his head in his hand. “I don’t know what to think. You were hammered. She was hammered. She can’t have consented unless she was just tipsy. You tell me that you slept with her. So what am I meant to think? The fact still remains that you cheated on me. Drunk or not, you did it. You’re in a hell of a shit storm here, Jack, and you could be facing prison. Prison. For a long time. Everything we’ve built, everything you’ve worked for just down the drain for one drunken night stand.”

    “Hollie…”

    “No. This is what it boils down to. You could screw up your entire life based on one drunken…fling. Because you don’t have any self control,” I snap. “I hope it was worth it, Jack, I really do.” I flounce into the lounge, slamming the door behind me.

 

    I wake on the couch as the sun begins to shine through the curtains. Another day where I was hoping to wake up with a rather massive hang over and find out that the entire thing had been a ridiculous drunken joke and everything would be back to normal. But it’s not. And as I open the curtains, the realisation hits me all over again, and especially when the door to the bedroom opens and Jack appears in the room looking sullen and full of sadness.

    “Hollie,” he says, making his way to the kitchen.

    “Morning,” I say, willing to give him at least the time of day if he can be bothered to sort this out.

    “Can we talk about this?” he asks and I turn to face him.

    “How do you mean talk about this? We need to work out what is going on, yeah, and I need to know the truth.”

    “Okay,” he agrees. “Tea?” I nod at him and he puts the kettle on. I sit down at the table and sigh deeply. Does this finally mean I will get the truth out of him? I’m not entirely sure.

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