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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6. Six

    The worst thing about being a part of this … situation with Jack is that everyone judges me. Whether they know me personally or not, the heads turn whenever I walk into a room, whenever I walk around campus. I’d always seen ‘turning heads’ as a good thing, when someone finds you attractive, you turn their head so they look at you more than once. Jack used to do that to me, whenever we would hang out together, or whenever we ended up at the same parties. But now? Now it’s a bad thing. It means they are gossiping about me, wanting to know what the girlfriend of the alleged rapist on campus looks like. I can hear the whispers from a few that apparently “I was in on it” and “I let it happen” and crap like that. It’s when I put my earphones in and they think I can’t hear that I hear the ones that it was actually my plan and that I hate Stephanie so I forced Jack into raping her. I also hear the whispers that apparently it happened down a darkened alley and that he had a knife to her while he did it. Obviously a few Chinese Whisper games have been going on here as well.

    The very worst bit of this? They don’t know the truth, that me and Jack aren’t even together right now. Yeah, we have to live together, but I don’t even know what we are other than housemates right now. Well, technically he’s not anymore. Being formally on charge with rape, he’s been taken into custody, so while he is technically living with me, he’s not even present in the flat anymore. So I have the luxury of not seeing the sullen look on his face every day while this is going on. But of course, him being charged and formally arrested means I get it worse in public, because being associated with the rapist trainee doctor at the other campus means of course, I’m tainted too. I don’t even want to know what’s happening at the other campus right now. If I was to even step foot there, then I know that all hell would break loose. And it’s Sam that I really need, but of course, I can’t even think about going near there. I have to stay confined to either campus for lectures or home. I grab my phone out and start typing a message, but stop before sending. Will he want to even know? I know Jack hasn’t seen or spoken to anyone apart from me since this all kicked off, so why would anyone want anything to do with me, especially with all the gossip going around? But of course, my friends should know better of me, whether they think he’s guilty or not. Just because I was dating Jack doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of his case against him. Just because I shared a bed with him every night doesn’t mean I’m any part of this, it doesn’t mean I should get tainted with the same brush. I’m not that type of person, and I would never advocate anything like this. And anyone who knows me should know that, so why shouldn’t I be able to lean on my friends right now? Just because they are – or were – friends and class mates of Jack’s doesn’t mean they can’t be my friends as well.

    I hit the send button and make my way back home without another glance at the whispers or people gawping at me. It hurts that the people who never gave me a second glance before this, and the people who used to smile and say hi to me a mere week ago are now the people who stare and snigger behind my back like they think I could ever be involved in some kind of thing. They forget that although I’m not directly involved, and I was not her or him in all of this, that in a kind of twisted and weird way, I am just a victim in all this. I am the one who was living a lie for weeks, I am the one who was cheated on, and I am the one who shared a bed with a man who kept this from me. I’m the one left behind who has to put up with the gossip, the rumours and the chat behind my back. He might be on trial for this, and she may have to either be living with the horror or laughing at the lie she’s caused, but I’m the one left behind to pick up the pieces. People forget that within cases like this – what little I have to go on of course – there are other people than a victim and a perpetrator. Both these people have lives before it happened, they have families left behind, friends left behind that just have to try and move on from the crap that is forgotten in the background. And me, the mug that I must be, am one of them.

 

    I open the door to the flat and Sam walks in behind me.

    “I’m sorry I didn’t contact you before now, I just…”

    “Didn’t know what to say?” I guess when he stops speaking. He looks down at the floor with guilt. “No, don’t be sorry. If I’m honest, I would have absolutely no idea what to say in your shoes either. And I don’t know what it’s like with you, but I walk out the front door and everyone knows, have something to say or laugh at. I just, I’m trying to avoid as much of it as possible.”

    Sam sighs and puts the kettle on without even asking. I must have the look on my face that tells it all.

    “Any word from him since he was arrested?”

    I sigh and shake my head. “No. I think he’s pissed off with me because I told him I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be with him anymore. After all this, I don’t know what I’m thinking, what to believe and I told him I think we should have a break while this shit is going on, you know? He wasn’t too happy.”

    Sam puts the tea in front of me and sits opposite me with a small smile. “I don’t know what to tell you, Hollie. None of us… we never knew this was happening until it came out.”

    “I wouldn’t have expected you to anyway. I have no idea what to… I don’t know what to do, what to think. All I know is that they had his DNA and he’s been arrested for it. He told me he’s assumed they… you know, but he promises me he would’ve got consent before hand. Then goes and tells me they were both hammered after drinking the entire night. He doesn’t seem to understand if she was too…” I stop speaking. “Anyway.”

    “Something happened, we all know that, but the only two people who know the truth are her and him, and I think we just have to sit by and wait for the verdict, you know?” Sam says and I nod. “He called me last night, with his one phone call or whatever it is.”

    I look up. “And?”

    “He told me that he was innocent, that she is making it up, you know all the usual crap. He’s scared, Hollie, whether he did or not, I do kind of feel sorry for him. I hate admitting that,” he says.

    I nod. “I get it, I really do. Well, I can’t imagine what he’s going through, whether guilty or not, but it must be scary and it must be crap. I do feel for him, but I just… I can’t get my head around it, no matter how hard I try. It’s not just the… accusation, it’s the fact he cheated on me, and didn’t tell me,” I say. “I know he remembers it, because he wouldn’t have gotten this far in telling me, but I just… he cheated on me as well as this. He’s throwing it all back in my face, and then I get to hear the gossip, but no one thinks about how I feel in it, apparently I’m involved, told him to do it, hated her and wanted to get some kind of revenge on her, so told Jack to do it. But no one gets that I’m the one he cheated on, whether he raped her or not.”

    He puts a hand on mine and smiles at me. Probably pity rather than anything else, but to feel a human touch that doesn’t make me feel sick like Jack’s does now, and to feel some kind of warmness instead of the cold and calculated feeling I get whenever Jack touched me after this kicked off is such a welcome feeling. I don’t care if Sam pities me and doesn’t even care. After everything the past few weeks it’s just nice to have something and someone caring.

    “Sorry, I just haven’t had anyone to vent to since he got arrested,” I admit.

    “No, I’m sorry, I should’ve come round before now,” he says and I shake my head.

    “It’s only been a few days, Sam, I’m sure you’ve got other stuff to panic about,” I say. “Saying that, how are the exams going?”

    He smiles. “Got my last one Friday, and then I finally get two weeks off,” he says.

    “That’s generous, two weeks! Then what, more placement?” I ask.

    “Yeah more placement,” he says. “Then when I find out the results I get to see if I graduate or not!”

    “You’ll be fine,” I say. “If your assignments are anything to go by, you’ll pass with flying colours. Put my bloody dissertation to shame, you do!” He laughs. “Thank you.”

    “I didn’t do anything, that I’m aware of,” he says, gripping my hand tighter.

    “Distracting me, keeping me sane. I hate coming here, being alone, to go back outside and feel just as alone. It’s horrible.”

    His smile fades. “Well, I have the day off tomorrow, why don’t I come and stay for a bit?”

    I perk up and squeeze his hand. “That would be lovely. I mean, if you’re sure.”

    He sips his tea. “I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t sure, Hollie.” I smile and let go of his hand as my phone goes. Unknown caller ID.

    “Hello?” I answer.

    “Hollie, it’s me, Jack,” he says on the other line. I let out an audible sigh at the sound of his voice. Why would he want to speak to me? I don’t really want to speak to him, and I thought I had made that clear before he was even formally charged, but apparently not.

    “Why are you ringing me?” I ask.

    “I need to hear your voice,” he says. I notice the tired sound of his voice, the coarseness in it that suggests he’s had barely any sleep and he’s stressed out.

    “Well you have, now what do you want? I’m busy.”

    “No, please, don’t hang up, Hollie, please, I need you. I need to see you, please,” he begs, literally I can hear the pleading in his voice. I sigh deeply again and he takes a breath. “Please, Hollie. I need to see you. I love you.”

    “Jack, we had this conversation the other day. Please, leave me alone,” I say and hang up the phone. My hand finds my head and I bury my head for a moment.

    “I assume that it’s Jack from prison?” Sam asks and I nod.

    “He wants me to go and visit, apparently he needs to see me and hear my voice. Told me he loves me. I just… I can’t. I’m hurting, I think,” I admit.

    “Which is completely normal,” Sam says. He takes my hand and moves it away from my head. I find myself looking at him through blurry tears stinging my eyes. I don’t know when the tears begun to form let alone registered that they’d begun making their way down my face.

    “What do I do?” I ask.

    “I have no idea,” he says with a small laugh. “I have never been in your shoes, and hell, no offence, but I’d rather not be either!”

    I find myself chuckling and I drink my tea. “Only you could make a bloody joke out of this!”

    He gives me a playful salute and stands up. “Well, what else can you do but laugh? Look, Hollie, you know I can only advise you on what to do. But I know both of you, and I’m not making excuses and I’m on no one’s side here. But only you know what you want or don’t want. It’s not up to him, and it’s not up to me what you want from Jack anymore. If you think you can get through this, if you think there is a light with him at the end of this, then fair play to you, but he has been arrested for rape. This isn’t just an accusation that’s been thrown out by the prosecution, they have his DNA, and he’s basically admitted that something happened. He’s going to trial, well, basically going to trial. He cheated on you.”

    I purse my lips for a moment. “You’re on no one’s side, but you’re basically telling me there every reason I shouldn’t be with Jack anymore.”

    He raises his hands with a small smile. “You know how I feel then. That’s just my advice, obviously take it or leave it.” I finish my tea and stand from the chair, moving it to the side. “Now, I’m going to run home and grab some stuff and I’ll be back in an hour, okay? Will you be okay till then?”

    I smirk. “I’m nineteen years old, I’m not a child. I’ll be fine,” I say.

    “And I’m a twenty three year old nearly junior doctor, and I would be not wanting to be alone in your shoes right now. I’m just checking!” He gives me a quick hug before running out the front door. I sigh and perch myself on the chair, looking at my phone. I kind of can’t believe that Jack would even ask me to visit him after all of this, let alone beg me to talk and see him. I just… what is going on in his head right now? He’s been arrested and charged for this… disgusting crime and yet he still expects me to give him the time of day after all he’s done. He’s ruined his own life, and he has the audacity to bring mine down with it. Who does he think he is?

    I’m surprised though that I have yet to hear from his parents or my parents about this. No doubt they’ll all know about it, so I’m surprised I haven’t had one of them on the phone starting to blame my influence or the fact we “rushed into things” and that’s why he’s done it, or not done it, depending on their view on his guilt. His parents never liked me, they thought I was too common and not intelligent enough for a trainee doctor, and my parents think we rushed into what we are now… or what we were. So somehow all of them will blame me in some shape or form, just to add salt into the already gaping wound I have.

 

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