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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7. Seven

    The TV goes off immediately and I don’t even register it. All I can see is the headline and I know it’s Jack. I know they are talking about it and I don’t even need to hear the names to know what they’re on about. Because of the case’s nature and to do with the junior doctor, they won’t tell the nation the names involved, but I don’t need to know that information.

    “Ignore it, Hollie,” Sam appears in front of me, making my eyes blink and my entire body come to. I look at his pained look – he’s just as pained about this whole thing as I am. Jack’s best friend since they met at Fresher’s week, my best friend since I met him, he’s just as involved in this as I am, and we weren’t even there that night. Both as innocent as each other and yet we’re the ones that have been left behind to suffer by his stupid ignorant actions.

    “I know, I just… I never thought it’d be me involved in something like this,” I say, standing from the sofa. I made a deal with myself while Sam was gone, that I need to start to move forward. Ignore the crap in his wake, act as if it’s not happening until I need to, and I’ll be fine.

    “Nor did I. Well, nor did anyone I don’t think,” he says, appearing behind me in the kitchen. “We’ll get through this.”

    “I suppose it’s not really us we have to worry about is it? I mean, she is the real victim here, if he did do it. He’s the real victim if she’s made this up, or twisted what happened. We’re just the ones left behind.”

    “True. But we’re just as in this as they are. Well, not to that extent, but you know what I mean.”

    “Just some of the stuff they say out there… it’s that kind of stuff. It’s the hardest bit of all of it. That people who would stop and talk to me, be my friends just suddenly turn and think that I could have anything to do with it,” I say, putting the kettle on. I watch him as he turns it off, grabs a bottle of vodka and a bottle of coke from the fridge and without even asking, grabs two glasses and starts pouring. Right now, I could think of nothing worse than getting drunk, especially after what Jack’s done in the name of alcohol. But I know I won’t ever let myself get that bad, and even if I did get stupidly drunk, sex is never something I turn to, and I would never cheat on Jack and we’re not even together anymore anyway. I just can’t ever imagine getting so drunk I could do that. Whenever I get drunk I find myself giggling so much I wear myself out and go to sleep and wake up with a headache that needs treating with painkillers.

    “Don’t worry, I don’t plan on getting drunk,” he says, reading my thoughts as I stare at the vodka placed in front of me. Somehow, my mouth turns upside down into a smile and I laugh and down some of the stuff, savouring the burn that spreads down my throat and into my stomach.

    “That made you feel better about it, didn’t it?” Sam says and I nod. “Our lives don’t have to stop, Hollie. I know this… crap has ruined not just their lives but ours too. Both you and I are associated with Jack, whatever people think of him, they think it of not just you either. They know we’re best friends, it’s around the medical school too. All the nurses, doctors, all of them, they stare at me from across the lecture hall, they stare at me at placement, my reputation won’t last. If he gets named nationally, my foundation placements are going to have to be changed. The uni have offered me an extension on my exam…”

    “What?” I ask, perching on the table. He nods, his eyes widening.

    “They can hear the whispers, see the stress Jack has put me under for this. I won’t take it, I don’t need to, I don’t think, but he’s ruined us. But we can’t let it. We have to move on as best as we can, try and make sure we live as normally as possible. I don’t ever want to see him again, whether he is innocent or not. He’s ruined us, Hollie, whether he meant to, I don’t know. I don’t think he did, or I’d like to think he didn’t mean to do any of this.”

    I take another sip of vodka and think on that. Did Jack even think of the implications? Or was he too plastered and in the moment to even think a moment of drunken fumbling with another woman would have such massive implications for him, her, me and Sam? Did he not think of his own reputation, degree and career in that moment and how one moment of, well it wasn’t even passion, but sex could lead to all of this and he could lose everything? I don’t think he did.

    “I think he was ignorant, or too drunk to even consider anything else but his own desires,” I say. “And I don’t even know that it was desire. Was it rape? I don’t think we’ll ever know. But I don’t think it was violent. I think he was too damn drunk and stupid to know what he was doing, and he took advantage of her.”

    “I just never thought Jack was the type of person to have it in him to do something like this. And I don’t know what to believe,” Sam says and he drains his drink. I watch him put the glass down and stand in front of me, his hands holding my arms. I look into his eyes, finding the confusion and upset in them. “But like I said, we have to move on, we have to carry on and support each other. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we have to get on as if it’s not happening.”

    “But how do we do that? I don’t even know what’s going to happen about this flat. He’s on the tenancy too, and after next month I have no student finance coming in…”

    “We’ll do it together, okay? We’ll work it out,” he says and immediately my worries float away with the wind. Sam has this way about him of calming everything and everyone down. Whenever Jack or I have been in a flap about exams or assignments, he’s been the one to shut us up and calm us down. He’s been the one to keep Jack calm when he couldn’t sleep because his patient died or got a bad diagnosis, and there’s been quite a few of those recently. And now it’s his turn to be calm and logical for both me and himself – something I know he’s never experienced. Always calm and collected, and now Sam’s faced with anger, resentment and uncertainty. He needs me just as much as I need him as we’re the only ones we have in all of this.

    “Thank you,” I say.

    “For what?”

    “Being here. I just… I have no one else anymore, he’s ruined everything I’ve ever had in one stupid night and well, you being here is keeping me sane,” I say with a small laugh. He doesn’t say anything, but lets out a small sigh and folds me into a hug. I find my eyes closing and inhaling his scent and immediately feeling the safety net of having Sam here. Jack’s betrayed me in the worst way possible and I have someone to lean on, to cry to, to fall back on. I just dread the trial, if there is one, and finding out the truth.

 

    I look at my phone in the dark: one in the morning. I sigh and give up. I can hear the soft noises of the TV still being on. He must still be awake. I imagine what Jack will be doing in jail… will he be asleep? Will he be thinking about what happened and trying to piece together the truth, or will he be piecing together a defence in his own mind? I wonder if he truly knows the truth or whether he’s convinced himself that he’s totally innocent and in denial about the real truth. I don’t even know him enough anymore to predict it.

    I throw back the covers and make my way into the lounge to see Sam sitting there blankly staring the news.

    “Can’t sleep?” I ask quietly, finding myself sitting beside him.

    “I could ask the same of you,” he scoffs. I snigger and cross my legs on the sofa. “Just can’t switch off.”

    “You should’ve come and well, not woken me up, but you know what I mean,” I say. He smiles. “It’s going to be okay, you know. All that stuff you told me earlier about getting on with it, with us moving forward and being okay? You’ve convinced me, you know.”

    “Oh have I? Least that’s one of us convinced,” he says. “I’m just… I’m so angry with him. I mean, just being a prize twat. Why did he have to ruin everything? I’m angry at him for ruining his own life, but more than that for not thinking about the rest of us. For not thinking about her, about me, and about you. He just thought he could get away with whatever the hell happened and pretend as if everything was fine. I just… it’s not just himself he’s played about with here. And I can’t forgive him.”

    “I know, I feel the same,” I assure him. I put my hand on his arm and the tension in him instantly releases. I watch him shake his head in anger and faces me. “I just wish… wish he wasn’t such a…I don’t even know. We can’t spend this long being angry.”

    “Are you kidding me? I’m never going to not be angry,” I say. “He’s not thought about anyone beyond himself. We’ve lost everything because of him, and he has the audacity to think we still care about him.”

    “True,” he says. “He asked me to visit him as well, and I can’t bring myself to go. It would be for him, not for me. I couldn’t stop myself from punching him.”

    “That’ll be two of you suspended from the course, then, wouldn’t it?” He sniggers and I look down at my lap. I look back up at him and imagine how awfully lonely I’d be right now if he wasn’t here. I’d be curled up in that bed alone, not sure what to do with myself or where to turn to. “You’ve kept me from the loneliness, you know? The pure alone-ness I was in before you came here.”

    “Hollie, you don’t need to…”

    “No, I didn’t know what to do, where to go, who to turn to. I had no one but the whispers and I had started to think that maybe I had something to do with it. Maybe I’d done or said something that made him…”

    “No, you didn’t,” Sam interrupts me. His hands find their way around my face and his intense stare forces me to stop for a moment. “You did nothing wrong. This was all Jack, this was all him. Not you, not me, not her… not anyone that was there. This was Jack, and only him. Stop thinking like that.”

    “I…” I stop again, willing the thoughts from my mind. I know he’s right, deep down. The thoughts that maybe I could have done something to stop it never leave though. What if I’d told him to stay at home? If he hadn’t walked out that door he wouldn’t have ended up there and it wouldn’t have happened.

    “Hollie, stop thinking like that,” he says, knowing exactly what’s going through my mind. I blink and instantly open them again to find Sam closer in front of me. His grip loosens on my face and I find myself drawn to him, as if my life depended on it. My lips find his and I grab him, urging him closer. Something about his presence draws me to him, the safety net of him being here, the fact he’s not Jack…

    “I… sorry,” I say, pulling away and facing the brightness of the TV in front of me.

    “Don’t be,” he says softly, pulling my head back to face him. I furrow my brow at him as he finds mu lips again. I kiss him back, needing his comfort. I know I shouldn’t be doing this, especially with what’s going on, but I can’t stop myself. I need someone who won’t cheat on me, who won’t commit a crime, who isn’t Jack.

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