Release

"I can't remember a life before you, but then it hit me." © Copyright of Orange Beanie 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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1. Part One: The Accident

I have two notebooks sitting on my desk at all times.
Fact is, I only have two notebooks at all.
But nonetheless, saying that I have two notebooks sitting on my desk leads the person to believe that I might have more laying around, which, if they ask, I do. But I actually don't.

My first notebook is my journal- a diary, as my mother used to call it. But it's not a diary so I didn't listen to her- it's a journal. Just a journal.

My second notebook isn't used for anything, I had to buy both of them to get a sale and save some money.

When I start my new pages on my journal, I write the date in the top right hand corner and write my current mood in the top left. For years I had always written, 'Happy'. There was never a doubt in my mind that that wasn't the mood I should have been. I was a child then, yet I recall just last year I was doing the same thing. I always believed being happy was proper, and that I had to be. The first day I had changed my mood at the top of my page was when I met him, a broken version of him. I'm sure the man before this crushed version was lovely, all smiles and white teeth. He isn't that now, but I'm sure you know that from the newspapers.
My mood that day was, "I Am Terrible." And that is exactly what I wrote.

At the end of my writing each day, I sign my name: Josephine Winters. Oh good, you've heard of me. Then again, everyone has. Or maybe you haven't, maybe you are just trying to pin it down, trying to roll it off your tounge but you haven't found the courage yet. It's alright, I'll save you the trouble.
Yes, I am the girl. The one and only Josephine. I'm sure you've heard lots about me. But let me tell you one thing: half of the things they said aren't true. So pull up a seat, I'll buy you a coffee, how does decaf sound? This might take a while, so get comfortable.
Because I'm about to tell you the real truth.

 


It was a hot day- not too hot but just enough that your brain starts to boil after hours of being out there, which is exactly what had happened.
It was a quiet day at the beach, and my boyfriend Raidyn had taken my there. We left early in the morning, and we had arrived by eight AM. The water was still cold when I first dipped my toe in, the waves pushing forward from as far back as I could see, and the water lapped onto my toes and eventually reached my ankles. As I looked back, waiting for Raidyn to join me, he was taking swigs out of the beer bottle he had brought with him. I had never consumed alcohol, although being at legal age, The thought of it was not appealing to me.
Raidyn eventually staggered over to me, his arm slowly snaking around my waist, but I pushed him back. He smelt of alcohol and I wouldn't have him near me at the time for some reason. He had drank in front of me before, but that day I just wasn't having it. He didn't catch on from my attempts to create distance between us but he did when I quickly ordered him back to the truck he had driven us down in. "Get in the truck, we are leaving now." The smirk never left his face, but he happily obliged and climbed into the driver’s seat.
"Excuse me? What do you think you are doing?" I scoffed, disgusted that he thought he could actually drive us an hour back to HavenBrooke.
"Chill out babe, I only drank a bottle. Get in," he laughed, his eyes a dark blue-black colour. I did not listen to him then, I only pondered over the situation with my arms crossed and a scowl plastered on my face. I wondered if I could go with him driving, I knew I wasn't in the mood to drive us all the way back. Something in the back of my mind kept nagging me, something could happen. This is dangerous.
Although I was aware of the things that could happen, I didn't want to fight with Raidyn, because our fights were ugly and I knew it, he knew it. So instead, I said, "Ok." And before I knew it I was climbing into the passenger seat, the old leather caving in as I seeped into it. It smelt like the beach and beer- a familiar smell, but not one I was used to.


We had been driving for not five minutes before Raidyn's hand fell on my thigh. I would normally not budge, the warmth of his calloused pads on my thigh were so comforting, especially when I was stressing about our driving circumstances. I allowed him to rub circles with his thumb into the soft skin of my thighs, and as he moved his hand back down to my knee, I quickly shook it off of me.
"Babe?" He said forcefully, somewhat annoyed by my response, but I ignored him. If he overreacted I knew it would be the alcohol's fault.
"You need to keep two hands on the wheel," I squeaked, nervous for his reaction, but he said nothing, his jaw clenched. I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding when a few more minutes passed, and he kept his mouth shut. I was expecting him to blow up on me then, not because that was who Raidyn was, but because that is who the alcohol made him.

We were still at least forty five minutes from home when he began to drive us through a small village, one I did not recognize.
"Did we come through here on the way to the beach?" I asked him, but he did not answer me. I didn't ask him again, either. I wasn't sure if I wanted the answer or not.
I was suddenly and deeply mesmerized by the teenagers wandering around the area, small children running around in bathing suits and playing with hoses on their lawns. I remember tears pricking at my eyes when I saw a little girl with brown hair and bright eyes in a purple shirt, one who looked just like me at that age, playing catch with her father.
"I used to do that with my dad," I hiccupped, but Raidyn did not hear me. A part of me wishes he did, but another part of me is glad that he didn't. I'm not sure he even knows about my dad's passing, or how it happened. He knows about my mom's passing, though. I know he knows because he was there when she did. He was there when it happened.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if my parents were still here, and despite my age, I would still love to have Christmas dinner with them. We could open each other's lame gifts and laugh because we didn't need anything anyway. We would sit at the dining table that is many chairs too big for just the three of us like we used to and devour the turkey that my mother spent the entire day cooking, and then we would retire to the living room and gather in front of the wood fireplace and spend the rest of our Christmas together. We would eat my mother's cookies, even if they were burnt. She used to make chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, and if she asked if I wanted to help I would always agree but I was too short to reach the counter. Nevertheless, she would act as if I was the biggest help in the world and she would bend down to let me lick the spoon after she was done. I never really liked licking the batter, but I licked the spoon clean anyway because I know how happy it made my mom to see me involved. She used to tell me her mother would do the same for her, and she would always lick the spoon as clean as possible. My mother always wanted me to be like her, I think.
I never met my mother's mother, she passed before my mom was even expecting me. Her eyes used to become glossy if I mentioned her mom, or grandma, as I would call her. She didn't like to talk about grandma, I could see it in her eyes but she answered my endless questions anyway. Truth is, I never really cared for my grandmother at all. She was just a memory that I saw through pictures and heard through stories, she wasn't a real grandma. Not to me.

My head was leaning against the cold glass window, and I was in a trance, not paying attention to a single thing around me when I suddenly felt us swerve. My eyes widened when I saw Raidyn's hand shoot away from the steering wheel, and in an instant mine flew forward, trying to steady us. I was trying to keep an eye on Raidyn and the road at the same time but I could barely reach the wheel. I tried to shift in my seat to attempt to pull over, but as I did so, an unspeakable thing happened- something that had made my opinion on alcohol even worse, because Raidyn's alcohol induced hands gripped the steering wheel, his fingers turning white, and he swerved. I jerked forward forcefully, my lungs empty. I saw the cold face of a young boy hit our windshield, large green eyes pouring into mine, full of terror, shock, and pain. The windshield shattered and I heard Raidyn cursing behind me but I ignored him as I flew out of the truck to examine the body of the boy we had hit.
And that is how it started.
That is how I broke him.
That is how I broke Harry Styles.


I don’t remember how long it took me to reach the boy but in the moment it felt like forever, I had no intentions of calling anybody for help then. I just wanted to see the boy, as selfish as it sounds. I just wanted to see him, touch him, and when I did, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him. He smelt of vanilla, the hoodie he was wearing was covering his distorted body. His eyes were open, he was awake, and he was looking up at me, and in that moment I felt like everything was going to be okay. His eyes were round saucers, and they never blinked, it seemed. He was focused on me, kneeling beside him, the road gravel, and surely uncomfortable for him but he said nothing. His hair was a mess of curls on top of his head, slowly drooping onto his forehead, but he let out a whimper as I pushed it out of his face. Sirens woke me out of my sleep, I had surely no idea what was going on until an ambulance sped into view, joined by police men in their gear. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I realized the intensity of the situation, and a muffled sob escaped my lips as I brought his hand into mine- it was shaking.
“It’s okay,” I kept saying, but I don’t think I was saying it to him, “It’s going to be okay,” I was saying it to myself. I was quick to believe that, then, but that is when I trusted hope. You don’t make that mistake twice, though.
I paid no attention to the scene behind me, but I did hear Raidyn’s mouth cuss at the officers as they removed him from the vehicle. An officer approached me, slowly. I knew then that he noticed how much of a wreck I was.
“Miss?” He said, bringing a large hand to my shoulder, “Would you like to tell me what happened?” His tone was not mocking, but understanding. I stifled a cry as I bit my lip and quickly shook my head, I wasn’t ready for that, for some reason. At the moment I don’t remember being able to form words, or thoughts. My mind was in a far off place, only imagining the boy before this.
“Miss, you need to come with us, you need to come to the station,” the man told me, softly tugging at my arm.
It took me minutes to understand what he meant before I quickly back away from him, screaming, “No.” I must have looked insane then, but I couldn’t just leave. I needed to stay there, to drive to the hospital, to make sure he was okay, whoever he was. I gave up when the officer repeated his request again, and forcefully wrapped his fingers around my wrist, tugging me towards his car as I watched the boy being transferred into the ambulance.
As I felt the cold surface of the police car, a nurse came running up to us, to me.
“Wait!” he shouted, his voice deep. He was tall. He loomed over me as he came closer, so I kept my eyes focused on his Adam’s apple. I wasn’t sure of what he wanted from me, maybe, information? If so, I wasn’t ready to give anybody what I wasn’t sure I obtained myself. I didn’t know if I had information, I couldn’t recall any details of what had happened. At that time I only cared about the boy. Just the boy.
“He said something,” the nurse said, out of breath from running to me, “he was asking for a girl, are you the one?” My chest ached. I had no idea if he meant me, maybe he was asking for a girlfriend, or a mother figure? Selfishly, I took the bait and I nodded my head.
“I think so,” I croaked, and the police man let go of my arm so I could follow the nurse into the back of the ambulance.
“We want you to ride with him there, keep him comfortable,” he told me.
I quickly weighed over my options. I so desperately wanted to know what was happening to Raidyn, was he arrested? Was he in trouble? Horribly, my mind discovered that I too, could be arrested. Thinking of such things terrified me, and in a worried state I agreed and climbed into the back of the ambulance with the help of the nurse. If I was going to be in trouble, I was going to stall for as long as possible, make myself look like the good guy. Climbing into the ambulance to sit with the boy seemed to be the best I could do then, so I did it.
I hadn’t asked anybody who he was, he was easily recognizable but I wasn’t in the mood to ask about him. I sat beside his gurney on a stool, and I brushed his hair out of his face again. He stirred, but his eyes were shut. “I’m here,” I spoke quietly, and his eyes shot open. He did not look to the sides, he kept his eyes trained on the ceiling of the ambulance, and he did not move. He was in shock at that moment, and I let him be in shock. I had no idea what to do, I couldn’t console him or make him comfortable as if these were his last moments on earth, because I didn’t know who he was and he certainly didn’t know me.
The ride to the hospital was short, and I was the first one out to watch him being taken into the emergency room.
“Thank you, you should come in with us,” the nurse I had spoken to earlier said, quietly. I shook my head, even though I wanted nothing more than to be with the boy, I need air. I knew they would make me sit outside the room, as that is what happened with my mother’s passing, and I couldn’t torture myself like that, not again. I found myself sitting on a bench outside the hospital. I did not move.
The wind was cold against my skin, my hollowed cheeks and baggy eyes were being hit by knives of air. I sat on the bench with my back straight, my head up high, and I looked across the street to a Baptist church, and I just stared at the church like it was going to change at some point, but it didn’t. Not one bird landed on the roof of the church, nothing drove in front of it, nobody arrived, nobody left. Everything around me stayed the same that day, or maybe it didn’t. I was only paying attention to what was happening inside me then, my brain was in constant war with itself. I wanted to run into the hospital and demand they tell me everything about the boy, they tell me how he is, they let me see him. But I didn’t. I wanted to call a taxi and drive home and avoid all of the chaos, but I didn’t, because I knew that wasn’t even an option. I couldn’t do that even if it was the only option, I was basically a fugitive. I was involved in the accident and it was sure as hell partly my fault. So instead of doing anything, I kept myself occupied on the bench and I stared at the church.
At one point, an elderly man from the retirement home down the road sat beside me on the bench, his cane was leaning up against the wall of the hospital.
“My wife’s in there, I needed fresh air,” he breathed, looking to me for an answer, or some comforting words, but I knew that all of my words had been used on the boy. I said nothing to him, and eventually, he left, but he left alone. I had wondered what had happened to his wife, was she okay? Was she dead? My attention was brought back to the church across the street. I had no idea how long I had been there, hours? Minutes? Seconds? I didn’t know, yet I didn’t want to know. The longer I had been here, the longer they were examining the boy and that usually meant bad news. I knew then that it couldn’t be bad news, something could not happen to the boy or I would drive myself insane. I was completely sure of that, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that that isn’t what I would do.
I felt a tap on the shoulder, and assuming it was the old man again, I ignored it. When I felt the tap again, I whipped around. It was the nurse. I had never asked him his name, no matter how many times I saw the nurse, but it didn’t seem important to me. He made a gesture as if to say, “come here,” and so I followed him into the doors of the hospital. He did not lead me any further than the waiting room.
“His name is Harry Styles, he has no family that we can find anywhere near here. Did you know him?” The nurse reveals, but I shake my head.
“My boyfriend was drunk, he hit him, and the first thing I did was I ran to him, I ran to Harry.
I didn’t know if he knew I was there, but I just talked to him, because I needed to give myself some comfort and silence just wasn’t doing it. I held his hand, it was large but it was shaking, and the skin was soft, I-” I rambled, but the doctor stopped me before I could finish.
“You can’t see him. It’s been hours, miss, you need to go home, get some rest. I’ll call you when we find out more,” the nurse offered, but I shook my head.
“My home is HavenBrooke, I don’t even know what village this is but it isn’t close to where I live.”
“You’re in Akron, it’s small here, we only have around five thousand people, but there is a motel down the road. You can stay there as long as you like, just call the hospital every few hours. I’m sure we will have information soon,” he assured me, and I did not thank him, I only nodded.
I walked back outside to the bench, and instead of sitting down, I walked past it. The nurse was right, the town was small, but it was quaint. The air wasn’t thick there as it was in my town, and I enjoyed it. The streetlights were tall and musty, the town could have been so many years old, but I never stopped to ask anybody. My surroundings at the time were the least of my problems.
Instead of turning to walk to the motel, I continued to walk across the street, not watching to see if any cars were coming down the road despite what had happened today. I was sure nothing like this ever happened in Akron, I was sure that it was rare for any crime or accident happened there. It was such a small, perfect town, the roads were gravel, the sidewalks were small enough that they couldn’t fit two people side by side but they were big enough to fit one. I was walking across the street to visit the church, for the first time in my life.
I had never visited a church before, my parents were not religious, therefore I was not religious. I had never stepped foot inside a church before, I was surprised it wasn’t locked as I swung the front door open and stepped inside the old building. The pews were wooden and look incredibly uncomfortable but I sat in the closest one to me anyway. It smelt of all different kind of things, but I mostly smelled vanilla, and it reminded me of the boy, Harry Styles.
I reached out to grab the bible that was sitting on the pew and I slumped my shoulders and bowed my head as I gripped it in my fingers. I had no idea who or what God was, then. I felt foolish in that position, thinking how stupid I would look if someone were to walk in at that moment, but nobody did. I opened my mouth to speak, to pray, but then I closed it again. I had no idea what I was doing, what to say, or what to do.
I didn’t hear the door open before the voice carried throughout the entire church.
“You’re supposed to pray, kid,” it said.
I looked towards the voice, and it was the elderly man I had seen earlier, the one I had rudely ignored. I almost chose to ignore him again, but instead, I spoke.
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Then why are ye here?” His accent was undecipherable, but incredibly heavy.
“I need to save someone, I need them to be alive,” I began, but he cut me off quickly.
“Do ye know what praying is?”
I shook my head.
“Praying is putting yer trust in your faith and in God to save your someone, I sense you have no faith,” He cackled. He was right, I didn’t. I set the bible back down on the pew and I sped out of the church.

My feet were moving as fast as possible as I reached the motel, “Cozy Corners.” It looked cozy, I guessed at the time, but I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to enter it. Yet, I did, and the lady at the front desk was short and stubby, with gray hair and a flowered blouse.
“I’m looking for a room,” I said to her, more asking than telling, and she smiled a small smile.
“Third door,” she smiled, handing me a key. She didn’t ask me about payment methods, and as I reached to grab the key from her frail hand I noticed she had lost interest in me and turned her focus back to the book she was reading, her glasses slipping off her nose. I nodded at her, as if to thank her, but I don’t remember if she acknowledged it or not. Nevertheless, I exited the lobby and made my way down the sidewalk to the third door, used my key and walked into the room. I didn’t have any clothes, or a toothbrush but I wasn’t even worrying about that.
The room was small, a double bed with swirls on the comforter was settled against the right wall and I noticed a kitchenette as I continued to scope the area of the room. There was a bathroom door right to the left, and I entered it. I didn’t have to use the bathroom, but I found myself sitting on the cold tile floor and sobbing into my hands. I wasn’t sure what I was sobbing about but I was sobbing anyway. My feet were cold against the tiles and my back was straight against the papered walls. I gripped the edge of the sink to aid myself in standing up, and I gasped as I looked in the mirror. I looked like hell, my mascara was smeared across my face and my cheeks and lips were puffy. My eyes were dry despite all the crying that had taken place and my hair was matted. I knew a shower would freshen me up but I couldn’t bear to do anything but nothing. Instead, I trudged into the room and I softly lay onto the bed, the blanket was the thin but comforting to my back and I pressed my lips together, and as they formed a thin line the phone began to rang.
I shot off of the bed, my hand reaching to the motel cord phone.
I ripped it to my ear, “hello?”
It was the old lady from the front desk.
“I received a call from the hospital, dear,” her voice was flat, “they want you there right away, something about a bo-”
I didn’t let her finish before I left the phone hanging by its cord and darted out of the motel. I don’t think I had ever run that fast in my life, despite how weak I was feeling, the sudden boost of confidence had my feet running so fast that my brain could barely catch up. I don’t remember what was happening at the moment, I wasn’t paying attention to anything around me as my brain caught up with me and I immediately rushed into the building, tracking dirty footprints inside, but I didn’t care.
The nurse I had spoken to before was nowhere to be seen, and I crinkled my nose at the smell of sanitary wipes and needles. I always hated the smell of hospitals. I wanted to curl up in a ball and leave, as that hospital vaguely resembled the one my mum died at, and then my dad was pronounced dead at. I remember waiting outside the room forever, only to find out I had only been there for a few minutes. It was different this time, I hadn’t just been there minutes. I had really been in Akron for hours. Harry Styles had been in that hospital for hours and I still had no idea why.
 I turned the corner and my eyes shot to a nurse, a young lady with blonde hair, hollow cheeks and little to no makeup on.
“Excuse me,” I said, but she did not respond to me.
“Excuse me,” I said again, with more force. She turned her head towards me, her eyes a dark colour.
“What do you want, kid,” She spat, rubbing her gloved hands together.
“I’m looking for a boy, I was sent here to see him, Harry Styles,” I breathed, and she grabbed my wrist and began to take me to him, but she suddenly stopped and her head turned to the side. A young man was being walked into the emergency room with a large cut on his forehead, blood dripping down his face.
“Josephine?” He asked, his grin twisted. I nudged the nurse to continue taking me to Harry’s room, I had no time to deal with the scene in front of me. The man who had just been taken to the hospital, a police man supporting his back, was Raidyn.

“Do you know him?” The nurse grumbled before me, but I did not answer as I hurried to catch up with her, her feet were moving quickly. She stopped in front of a door in the ICU.
“He’s in, Intensive Care?” I stuttered, and she nodded.
“Something is wrong with his back,” she leaned in and whispered to me, before opening the door and shutting it behind me.
“Don’t be long, he should be attended by a doctor or nurse at all times.”
Harry’s eyes were closed, but I so wished then that they could be open as they were in the ambulance. I watched as his chest moved slowly, up and down, and I found myself in the chair besides his bed. He wasn’t propped up, like they usually are, he lay flat on his bed. I assumed it was because there is something wrong with his back, as the nurse told me. Harry’s hand lay flat at his side, his long arms were pinned to his hips, but I couldn’t help myself as I reached towards the hand closest to me and I entwined it with mine. His hand wasn’t as soft as it was before, but I held it gently. I couldn’t help but feel a connection between us, and although he wasn’t awake, I desperately wished he was. I wanted him to open his mouth and talk to me, so I could tell him my name and we could talk and I could apologize for ruining his life.
I was wondering then, what if he didn’t know I was the reason he was in the ICU? What if I told him, and he hated me? I made a note to myself, that if he didn’t know, I would tell him, but for some reason, I was scaring myself by thinking about it. I didn’t want to have to tell someone that, but as much as a doctor doesn’t want to tell a patient they have cancer, they have to.
The air in the room was so thick I felt like coughing, but I didn’t want to walk the sleeping boy beside me. I wanted him to stay asleep, suddenly, so I wouldn’t have to explain to him what happened.
He was dressed in a hospital gown, as they all are, and it was lose against his skin. His hair had flopped onto his forehead, and I gently lifted it off, feeling his skin. His skin was boiling at that moment, beads of sweat forming on his forehead, but I did nothing, even though it could be a problem. I did nothing then because, being the selfish person I am, I didn’t want a doctor to come in and take me away from him. I felt responsible for his wellbeing as if I was his mother. I felt so damn responsible in that time that I just wanted to scoop him up and take him back to Cozy Corners with me, and fix him with all I could. Although I knew that would just make it worse, it seemed like the best option that I had.
As if taking me before my time, a doctor I did not recognize peeped his head through the door to Harry’s hospital room and he silently motioned for me to join him outside the room. Slowly, I lay Harry’s now warm hand back beside his body and I stood up from my seat.
“It’ll be okay,” I told him, more to myself than Harry, once again.
The doctor seemed restless, I’m sure he knew I wanted to yell at him for not letting me see Harry earlier, but I didn’t. I didn’t have the energy to yell, and as I exited the room I sat in one of the waiting chairs, giving the hint that I didn’t want to stay here very long, I just want to know about Harry and then I want to go back and see him. Minutes pass as the doctor said nothing, and after being patient for what I felt was long enough, I spoke up.
“Well?” I encouraged him to tell me everything he knew.
“His name is Harry Edward Styles. He’s nineteen and he lives in an apartment with one of his friends. I’ve located two people from this town that know him well but he doesn’t seem to have any family whatsoever,” He began, but I scoffed as he continued to tell me personal things they have uncovered about Harry. As much as I would have liked to hear them all, I would have much rather heard about the medical problems he had from the accident and that it exactly what I told the doctor. He rolled his eyes, but he told me anyway.
“We did some examinations on his back, Miss Winters, and damage has been done to his spinal cord. The police station contacted me, and the young man driving the car, your boyfriend so I’ve heard, has been given stitches and they are waiting in the waiting room for you, they still need you to answer some questions.”
“What kind of damage has been done to the spinal cord?” I asked, ignoring his suggestions to go to the waiting room.
“We call it an SCI, or a spinal cord injury. We have eight cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar, and four sacral bones. He has a T11 and a T12 injury, which means he has damage done to the eleventh and twelfth level of the thoracic spinal cord section. This will result in surgery, and it is very likely he will be paralyzed from the hips and down, a condition that we call Paraplegia,” the doctor explained. I wasn’t exactly paying attention, as I had no idea what any of his medical terms meant, but my attention was quickly guided to his words when he said that Harry may be paralyzed from the hips, down.
“When can I come back?” I choked, and the doctor gave me a small, sentimental smile, but I didn’t take it.
“He isn’t yet stable enough for the surgery, and it will last a good six hours. I want you to be prepared Miss, spinal cord injuries are very dangerous. I want you to visit as much as possible, I take it you will be one of the only few doing so. It will be a few days before the surgery takes place, and if he wakes up, I’ll call you. Goodbye, Miss Winters,” the doctor dismissed me, and he nodded at me before I turned on my heel, peered at Harry’s door once more, and walked away.
Raidyn’s familiar, yet scratched and stitched face greeted me as I entered the waiting room, and the police man never let go of Raidyn’s arm as he tried to step closer to me. I didn’t even want to look at Raidyn, it disgusted me to think of him and what he did to the boy, Harry. I wanted to cuss him out in front of the entire staff in the hospital, I wanted to tell him how terrible he was, how stupid, and selfish and unworthy he was but I stopped myself when I realized that even though he was driving, the entire incident was my fault, because I allowed him to drive. I could have told him no, and I would have been in the driver’s seat and we could be home right now, and so could Harry.
“Babe,” Raidyn smirked as I began to bring myself closer to them, but I shook my head.
“Don’t talk to me, you idiot,” I spat on his shoes, and as he opened his mouth so say something else, the police officer stepped in between us both.
“Leave the fighting for later,” he suggested, “we need to go to the station. Josephine, you take the front seat.”
I was incredibly thankful that I was allowed the front seat and I didn’t have to sit in the back where the criminals sat. Even though at that point I knew that’s where I deserved to be, I didn’t allow myself to not take up on his offer and climb into the seat beside Raidyn. I didn’t feel like that at all right that moment, even though doing the right thing to try and save me some trouble was on my to-do list that day. Despite all of that, I found myself in the front seat beside the officer and I didn’t complain once.
 “Miss Winters, you’re not in trouble, don’t worry,” The police officer attempted to calm me down, but I did not take his bait and I sat motionless in my seat. My seatbelt was digging into my shoulder but I didn’t care, I wasn’t in the mood to take away any of my physical pain, because at the moment it distracted me from my mental pain and provided me a bit of relief. I found myself wishing the seatbelt would hurt more, but it didn’t.
The police station was small, as I had expected. It was just outside of the town, and although slightly smaller than the tiny hospital I had been in before, it was much more intimidating.
The second the car stopped running I was on my feet, rushing out of the car for air. I was suffocating inside the metal trap, the stress I was enduring was piling weights on top of my chest and at any given time my breathing was to be taken from me. Oddly, hoping that it would be was something I did often. But, just as everything else, it didn’t.
“Jo,” Raidyn breathed, “I have your phone.” He pulled my cell phone out of his back pocket and placed it into my trembling hand.
My mouth immediately burst into flames as I began to scream at him, “Are you stupid? If you would have given this to me before, I would have called someone to pick me up from the beach, and you wouldn’t have hit Harry! You are such a-” He cut me off at the mention of Harry’s name.
“Who’s Harry?” He sounded as if he was punched in the stomach, I know making it sound like I was with someone else would deliver a good blow, and he deserved it. I didn’t tell him who Harry was, and I just kept walking, my feet finally catching up with my brain as I jogged to reach the police officer inside the station. I could only see a dozen officers, each with their face buried in a computer screen, and the officer dragged me towards him. Raidyn was behind us, I could hear his shoes stomping against the cement floor.
“Raidyn, we need to take some pictures of you. Miss Winters, please wait here, and then just bear with me. I will need to ask you some questions,” the officer explained, and I didn’t see him for another half an hour.
I was sitting in a black chair, with my face in my hands when I decided to dig my phone out of my pocket and call my grandmother from my Dad’s side. I loved my grandmother, despite what her son did to my mother. She lived a fair twenty minutes from my apartment back in HavenBrooke at the time, and I desperately needed someone to bring my belongings to the motel.
My grandmother was the person I had stayed with after both of my parents passed when I was ten. The second I was eighteen, I found my own place, but when I was there, I enjoyed my Grandma’s company. She picked up on the third ring.
“Gram?” I greeted her.
“Josephine Mary, how are you dear?” She always had a thing about calling me by my first and middle name.
“I’m alright Grandma, I need you to do something for me.”
She listened as I told her which apartment room was mine, and remembering I had given her my spare key, she happily obliged when I asked her if she could bring me clothes, my phone charger, and my toiletries. I then proceeded to call the pudgy lady at the front desk of the motel to alert her that my stuff would arrive there in a few hours, and just to leave it behind her desk until I returned to the motel.
Time seemed to pass slowly when the lady hung up, and I suddenly had no one to talk to. The officers made small talk throughout the station and I felt eyes staring at me but I did not look up from the floor once. It was a feeling I had never had before, the feeling of guiltiness towards something that I was not sure of was real. I had no idea if it was a dream or not, a dream which I would gladly be woken up from, but I knew that I wouldn’t be.
I wondered if Harry thought it could be a dream or a horribly twisted nightmare as I had. I had only wished such a thing once before when my drunken father had ruined my life, as he did my mother’s. It wasn’t a good feeling, and although it was terrible, I thought I wouldn’t have to feel it again, yet here I was, wondering what I could have done to deserve this. I remember rethinking everything I had ever said to someone, every little thing that I could have done to impact someone’s life in such a way that the universe had to get back at me with this extremity of a situation.
I still feel guilty for the way my mind worked under such stress, and my brain conjured up some incredibly selfish thoughts as I was sitting there in the police station. I found myself blaming Harry for what happened, I found myself blaming him for walking in front of the truck, I blamed him for so many things to feel the satisfaction that it was not my fault, yet somehow the world works in mysterious ways and I knew that it was my fault. It wasn’t Raidyn’s, it wasn’t Harry’s, it wasn’t the God that I didn’t believe in’s fault, either. It was mine and only mine, but I didn’t want to take on the responsibility of Harry’s life. I knew though, that wasn’t my choice to make.
Riadyn and the police officer emerged from the doorway after what felt like forever and I stood up, my palms sweating.
“We need to ask you a few questions, now, Miss Winters,” The officer told me. He gestured for me to follow him, and Raidyn to stay behind as we were sectioned off from the rest of the world in a small room just off of the office. It seemed to be only a five man police department, which, because of the size of the town, seemed normal.
The desk we sat at was warm, a wooden desk that seemed years old, if not old enough that if I sat in the matching wooden (And not very comfortable) chair, it would crack and crumble under my body. I sat across from him, his large fingers flipping through pages and files until he finally rests on a page which he kept hidden from view, as he rested it on his lap and held a blue pen in his right hand. I remember staring at his right hand as if it was going to start pointing fingers at me and blaming me for the situation but it didn’t, not once. I was ready to jump up and run if it did, though.
“Miss Winters,” he began.
“Call me Jo, please.”
The officer sighed, “Jo.”
“How long do I have to be here?” I asked impatiently, fiddling in my seat, my hands wriggling and knees shaking. The officer let out an annoyed breath but he continued.
“What is the first thing you remember, from today?” he asked me.
“I guess it was the beach. We had driven down there and arrived at like 8am, it was an early day. We left the beach around ten, but Raidyn had drunk an entire beer from what I saw, probably more when I wasn’t looking. He wasn’t drunk, but he was definitely intoxicated and he wouldn’t let me drive his truck. I thought I had left my phone at home because I couldn’t find it, otherwise I would have called someone to pick me up, but he had it and I didn’t know-”
“Why didn’t you know?” The officer interrupted.
“I had no idea he had it in his pocket, he just handed it to me when I got here.”
The police man gestured for me to continue my story.
“I fought with him, but I had no other way home so I just got in the passenger side door. I didn’t think much of it until we were driving through this little town Akron, and he took his hands off the wheel and just sat there. Instinctively I put my hands on the wheel, but he got mad, and in an attempt to take control, he swerved and Harry came up on to the hood of the car and the window broke but I just wanted to get out and see if he was okay.”
“In a rough estimate, how much do you think Raidyn drank?” He asked. I shrugged my shoulders, answering him a guess, which was a beer and a half, possibly more.
“What did Raidyn say that made you get in the passenger side of the car?”
“I don’t remember, I wasn’t thinking straight,” I answered truthfully, I had no idea what I was thinking at that point, “He just fought until I gave up. He didn’t want me driving his vehicle, or anyone for that matter. I have been dating him for long enough that he is angry under the force of alcohol.”
He opened his mouth to question me further when the phone began to blare through the station. I still remember how annoying that ring was, it was torturous, despite the small time frame it rang for. It seemed to blast through my ear drums until the police officer grabbed the land line phone and put it to his ear. I only hear snippets of the conversation before I zoned out, “Hello?” “Yes,” “Uh-huh,” “She’s right here.” The phone was then transported to my hand and I put it to my ear, not knowing what was happening.
“Hello?” I grumbled, my eyes out of focus. I was tired, my eyes closing as I fought to keep them open.
“This is Akron Village Hospital, is this Miss Josephine Mary Winters?” My chest ached and my stomach flipped as I awaited the information.
“Yes, do you have anything to tell me about Harry?”
“He’s in a coma. It’s not serious, because he has a back injury this is completely normal. We are keeping him under our care for another day, but by this time tomorrow, he will be transported to Virginia Hospital, an hour and a half from here where he will be operated on. We were wondering if you wanted to ride in the ambulance with him there, his body seems more relaxed when you are in the room with him and his friends aren’t available to stay with him,” the nurse whose voice I recognized explained.
I had not realized I didn’t answer his question, my head swimming with this brand new information, until he repeated himself, and asked, “hello?” numerous times. I said yes, of course, I had no intentions to leave Harry, not then, not ever. I then handed the phone back to the officer and he hung up.
“They asked if I,” I began, but the officer cut me off.
“Your call was recorded and listened to, I know everything that they said. Miss Winters, Jo,” he corrected himself, “You may go. But your boyfriend does need to stay in Akron, his court date is to be decided and you will serve as a witness, Ma’am. I will stay in touch with you and you may need to come back at a moment’s notice. This is all very serious, Miss Winters, and I need you to recognize that.”
I nodded furiously before running out of the station as fast as my feet could carry me.
I entered the motel with fast feet and my eyes were not looking where I wanted them to. The old lady pointed to my bags that my grandmother had dropped off, and with strong arms, I picked them up and continued to my motel room. My cell phone had continued to go off, with texts and calls. They were all from Raidyn, one text telling me his court date was to be in three weeks, August seventh, another telling me he was released without charge unless he was not to appear in court. I was expected to appear in court as a witness and I was shaking at the thought. I was nervous, definitely nervous.
I didn’t unpack any of my belongings because I knew they would be shoved back in the back and taken to Virginia Town the next day. While going through my bag, my grandma had met my expectations, she brought me clothes, toiletries, my phone charger, and one item in particular that stuck out, my diary turned journal. As I said before, my mother made me call it a diary when really, all along, it was a journal. I began my entry for that day, and I knew it would be longer than usual.

Date: July 17th, 2004                                                                                                 Mood: I Am Terrible.

Dear Journal,
I wonder if you noticed I changed my mood, because I did. Today I am not happy as I am every other day, and today I certainly did not follow my daily routine. I am a bit out of hand and I’m sure you’ll get used to this as my new story goes on, because my life had certainly changed for the worse, and so has someone else’s. I did a terrible thing, Journal, and for once I am glad that my parents are dead because I don’t have to explain this to them, I don’t have to watch them hang their hats and heads in shame. The only person that has to deal with the shame is me, Journal.
I almost ended someone’s life today. Of course it was an accident. A handsome young man such as he does not have a reason to be purposely killed. He didn’t die, thank God.
Speaking of God, I tried to ask him a few things today, I tried to ‘Pray’, whatever that means. People tell me all the time how God turned their life around but I just don’t see it, but yet again, people also tell me I am blind.
I think I’ll try the God thing again at some point, but only on Harry’s life will I do something so extreme as to try to become one in a religion, because that isn’t me. I would do anything to save poor Harry Styles’ life and I will keep that promise as long as I live. I’ll try so long that he is around for me to try for.
I’m sure this doesn’t make sense, Journal. It’s just a bunch of random sentences and pieces of what happened in the longest day of my life, but that’s what my brain is right now, too. So don’t feel alone, Journal, I feel the same way. Confused.
-Josephine Winters

 

 

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