Broken silence, p.13

Broken Silence, page 13

 part  #2 of  Silence Series

 

Broken Silence


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  “Are we ready to go?” Jenna asked.

  Numbness. That was all I felt as we parked outside court. Absolute numbness. It was as if it was happening to someone else. I looked at the front doors and was shocked to see so many reporters outside. It looked like something I had seen on TV when a celebrity was on trial.

  My heart started beating too fast, and my lungs felt as if they were being crushed. “We’re going in at the side. Linda arranged it so you won’t have to face that,” Mum said, nodding at the large crowd.

  I swallowed. “Okay. ”

  Mum, Cole, and Jasper got out of the car, and I opened my door. I felt rooted to the spot. I wanted to lock the car and hide in the foot well until it was over.

  Jasper knelt down. “Are you ready, Oakley?” He held out his hand. You can do it. Just take your brother’s hand. He won’t let you fall.

  Reaching out, I placed my hand in his and stepped out of the car.

  “I’m ready. ”

  As soon as I was out I was being ushered into the building quickly. Before anyone could recognise us. Linda was meeting us inside, so we stopped a little way in from the door.

  I leant against the window and concentrated on breathing. My stomach was in knots. I’m not ready for this. Cole wrapped his arms around me. It was as if he understood what I was thinking. How on earth could I go in there and face him when even the thought of it made me panic.

  I mentally counted down the minutes until I would have to see him. Everything came flooding back. I could see everything happen as if I were watching a horror movie. I was on the outside, looking in at a terrified child as her dad allowed his friend to abuse her. Dad’s face burned into my memory, looking on with no emotion whatsoever.

  My eyes stung, and bile rose up my throat. I pulled back, and Cole frowned.

  “Where’s Linda?” I asked. I wasn’t going to last much longer, so I needed to just do it.

  “Oakley?” Linda called, jogging towards me. I turned and headed her way, leaving behind my confused family and friends. Are you ready?” No, not at all. Nodding in a daze, I flattened my jacket. “Would you like a minute with your family?”

  “No, let’s just go,” I replied.

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  “Oakley?” Jasper called, but I ignored him and followed Linda.

  I couldn’t look back. I forced my feet to follow her, and with every step, even the simplest thing, breathing, became a challenge.

  Linda took me to a small room that had a few chairs and a dark wood coffee table in it. “This is where we’ll come if you need a break. Remember you can have one whenever you need. If it gets too much just tell me, okay?”

  “I will,” I whispered.

  Someone opened the door. I didn’t look up, but I saw Linda nod and knew that was our cue. Oh God. Linda smiled, reassuringly.

  “This way. ”

  I followed her through the other door in the room and across a corridor, into the courtroom. I stepped inside, and my hands started to shake.

  I was on my own now. My family, Cole, Jenna, David, and Mia were all sitting in the public gallery. I wanted Mum with me, but I had to be strong and do this myself. My eyes immediately scanned the rows of seats in the public gallery. Finally, I found Cole sitting at the end closest to where I would be.

  “Are you okay?” Linda whispered. I nodded once in response. Very soon I would have to find my voice.

  With a deep breath, I looked to my right. Dad sat in his seat, looking straight ahead, at nothing. I felt as if I physically couldn’t get enough air. Like my lungs were too small to take in the oxygen I needed, and they quickly started to burn.

  Someone was talking to me, but I couldn’t focus. The only noise I could hear was my pulse crashing in my ears. A copy of the Bible was shoved in front of me and I raised my hand, placing it gently on the worn book. Linda had been through what would happen, so I knew what was being said to me, but I couldn’t hear a word of it.

  “I swear by almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” I said and took a deep breath.

  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dad staring at me. I had to look at him, to show him that I wasn’t afraid, even though inside I was terrified. Very slowly, I raised my eyes and met his.

  I felt as if the air had been sucked from my lungs. This time they refused to work at all. I gasped but took nothing in.

  My lungs burst into flames and black fog blurred my vision. The tips of my fingers tingled painfully. Someone stepped in front of me, but I couldn’t see who it was. The room burst into life. I heard voices, but somehow they didn’t sound real.

  Someone, possibly whoever had stood in front of me, picked me up like a child. My head fell back and then I felt nothing.

  Chapter Fourteen

  Cole

  I sat forward in my seat. What’s she doing? Oakley looked frozen. Her body was still, apart from her chest rising and falling rapidly. Linda rushed to her side, along with someone else and together they helped her down.

  Shit! What the hell had happened?

  “Oakley,” I shouted. Jumping up, I ran towards the door. I couldn’t get to her from the public gallery, but I knew roughly where she would be. Dodging people as I ran, the only thing on my mind was getting to her.

  I didn’t care about the group of tracksuit clad teens that I almost knocked over, or the old man shouting at me to slow down. Oakley. She was all I could think about. She was scared and nervous, of course she was, but I had no idea it was that bad. As soon as she looked at him it was like she just shut down.

  I was out of breath by the time I got to where we left her earlier. Linda took her to a room just off the hallway, so that was the first place I planned on looking. I burst through the door hoping it would be the right one.

  I looked down and froze. Oakley was lying on the floor. My heart had stopped, and I dropped to my knees.

  “What happened?” I asked desperately. “What’s going on? Oakley, talk to me!”

  Behind me, someone old guy was on his phone calling an ambulance, and Linda was busy checking Oakley’s pulse. I was so scared I felt sick. My heart thumped against my chest.

  “Oakley! What happened, Linda? Please wake up, Oakley. Don’t do this to me,” I begged.

  “She just collapsed,” Linda replied, and rolled her onto her side. “She’s breathing. ” She looked pale, and her skin was clammy. “I think it was a panic attack. Did she eat this morning? That wouldn’t help if she hadn’t. ”

  “Um. ” I shook my head. “I don’t know. ” Leaning down, I brushed her hair from her face. “Can you hear me, baby? It’s going to be alright,” I whispered in her ear.

  “Oakley,” Sarah screamed.

  Jasper dropped down beside me. “What the fuck! What’s wrong with her?”

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  “Panic attack, Linda thinks,” I muttered, stroking the back of her hand.

  Paramedics burst through the doors seconds after them and rushed over. After firing off a string of questions and checking her over, they placed an oxygen mask over her mouth and laid her on a stretcher. Her eyes flickered, and I thought she was going to open them, but she didn’t.

  “Okay, let’s get her out,” one paramedic said, and they both lifted her at the same time.

  I jogged alongside the stretcher as they carried her out to the ambulance. The place seemed bigger now. The second we stepped out of the side door; quick flashes of light flickered in my face.

  We deliberately came in through the side for privacy; the trial was going on, so we knew it was only a matter of time before they started hounding Oakley. They must have followed the ambulance.

  Questions were fired out of the sea of reporters. Police officers stopped them from coming too close and shielded Oakley slightly. Their faces seemed blurred as I looked at them all at the same
time, trying to see who was coming too close to her.

  Anger rose inside me as they continued pushing forward to get a picture. Hadn’t she been through enough already? None of them cared about her, as long as they got the good story and the best picture it didn’t matter what that did to her. The extra stress and pressure of seeing her photo in the newspapers was the last thing she needed.

  Sarah got straight in the ambulance, and I started to panic.

  “Can I come too?” I asked, staring at Oakley lying deathly still. The thought of losing her was physically painful.

  “Sorry,” the paramedic said, smiling apologetically as he slammed the door shut. Just before he closed it, I saw Oakley’s eyes flitter open. Was she properly awake now? Would she ask for me?

  I spun around and sprinted back to my car. There was no point in trying to get them to allow me to come; Oakley needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible, and I wasn’t going to hold them up. Jasper’s footsteps thudded behind me.

  Ripping the door open, I jumped in and started the car before I’d even shut the door. Thankfully Jasper had moved just as quickly. My heart hammered in my chest. All I wanted to do was to be with her already.

  “What the fuck is going on?” Jasper shouted. His eyes had filled with tears, and he looked terrified.

  “I dunno,” I mumbled in response. “She was alright before she went in, but I saw her look at him and then she seemed… I dunno. ” I shook my head. I didn’t have any answers.

  Jasper spat out a string of expletives, muttering about how much he hated his dad and wished he’d had the chance to ‘murder the bastard’.

  I couldn’t disagree with that. If I could turn back time, I would have locked Oakley in my car, called Jasper to come and get her, and gone to find Max and Frank there and then. That way she wouldn’t have had to move half way across the world. She wouldn’t have to worry about ever seeing them again, or panicking about the possibility of her dad calling her from prison.

  “If anything happens to her…” Jasper trailed off, his face twisting in pain. I couldn’t even think about that. Nothing could happen to her. She had to be okay. “I don’t think she should carry on with the trial. ”

  “What?”

  “It’s not worth this,” he said, shaking his head. “They’re going down with or without her testimony. ”

  “Maybe, but they’re more likely to get sent down with it. Especially Frank,” I spat. Saying his name burned my throat.

  “I don’t give a fuck about them. I don’t want Oakley anywhere near that court. If they get off there are other ways of dealing with it. ” The only other time I had seen him this angry was the night he found out what they had done to her.

  I didn’t reply. There was no point. He would just get angrier. If Oakley wanted to give up I would understand completely, but I knew her better than that. She wanted to do it. She needed to.

  Jasper wouldn’t be happy about it, but Oakley was the most important person here. Whatever she needed to do to be able to move on, I was behind one hundred percent.

  The tyres screeched as I turned hard and came to an abrupt stop in the hospital car park. We jumped out of the car and sprinted to the entrance.

  “Oakley Farrell,” Jasper shouted, slamming into the reception desk. “She was brought in a minute ago. Where is she?”

  Following the receptionist’s directions, we quickly made our way down the hallway to another waiting room. Sarah was pacing back and forth, waving her shaking hands.

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  “Sarah,” I called. “What’s going on? Where is she?”

  “She came round in the ambulance and was talking but they still have to check her over,” she explained. “They couldn’t tell me much but with everything that’s going on it’s not surprising. There’s too much pressure on her. It’s just too much for her. Too much. ” She started crying and leaned against Jasper.

  I sat down as Jasper comforted his mum. Mia had texted to say they were on their way, and Oakley’s grandparents arrived shortly after we had. The waiting room didn’t smell like the hospital. It smelt of a mixture of perfumes and the vanilla air freshener on the windowsill.

  The clock ticked by slowly. We hadn’t been sitting long, but it felt like hours. My chest was tight. Sarah had spoken to her, and she was just being checked over, but until I saw her and saw that she was okay I wouldn’t be able to relax.

  A doctor walked in and before he could even call Sarah’s name we were all up out of our seats. “How is she?” I asked, getting in there just before everyone asked the same thing.

  “She’s doing just fine now,” he replied with a thick Scottish accent. “She had a panic attack. She’s also dehydrated. When she collapsed she hit her head and has a mild concussion so we’ll keep her in overnight and see how she’s doing tomorrow. ”

  “But she’s okay, and I can see her?” Sarah questioned.

  “We’re monitoring her, but she’s fine and awake so you can see her… Not all of you though. ” My heart dropped. No way was I staying in this room. “Just family for now, please. Oakley needs rest. ”

  Sarah looked between me and Jasper. “The three of us. Please?”

  I waited outside while Sarah and Jasper went in first, giving them a few minutes with her alone. I paced back and forth, checking the discoloured clock on the wall. When five minutes had ticked by, I went inside.

  Oakley was sitting up, talking to her mum. She looked up smiled sheepishly as her eyes landed on me.

  “We’ll go and get a drink, give you two some time alone,” Sarah said. “Do either of you want anything from the canteen?”

  “No thanks,” I replied, and Oakley shook her head.

  Jasper followed Sarah out, looking back with a tight jaw at his little sister in a hospital bed. “Get Cole to call if you need us sooner,” he said and let go of the door, letting it close behind him.

  Perching on the edge of the bed, I pressed my lips to hers and kissed her as I stroked down her jaw. It was pure relief to see that she was okay and back with us.

  “Don’t ever do that again,” I told her. “You scared me to death. ”

  “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Her cheeks turned a light shade of pink and she diverted her eyes. She did look a little dazed and pale but apart from that she was the same perfect girl as always.

  I sighed and lifted her chin so she was facing me again. “It wasn’t your fault. I need to take better care of you. ”

  “What? This certainly wasn’t your fault. ” She frowned and pursed her lips slightly, the way she did when she was annoyed.

  “Oakley, the doctor said you were dehydrated. ”

  “That’s not your fault though! I should be taking care of myself. It’s just with everything going on I’ve not really thought about eating and drinking properly. I’m fine now, apart from felling like a complete idiot and being beyond embarrassed that is. ”

  “Don’t feel like that, you couldn’t help it. Everything’s gonna be fine now. ” Oakley nodded but I knew she didn’t believe it would be fine – but I had to try and make her feel better. “Do you want to continue with the trial? You know you don’t have to, right? We don’t have to talk about that now actually. Forget I said anything. ” Stupid!

  She shook her head gently and winced. “I want to. I just need to learn how to deal with seeing him again. I didn’t cover that in therapy. I didn’t think I’d ever be facing him again. ”

  “Okay,” I said, stroking her hair. “Whatever you want. Do you think speaking to someone will help?”

  “I honestly don’t know. ” She shook her head again, winced, and rubbed it.

  “Careful. Are you okay?”

  She smiled. “I’m fine. ”

  “You have a concussion! You’re not fine, fine. ”

  “Fine, fine,” she repeated, grinning in amusement. “And it’s a minor concussion. I can’t remember doing it. My head hur
ts a bit, but it’s just like a little headache, so stop worrying. ”

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  “It’s the boyfriend’s job to worry. ”

  “Wrong. It’s the boyfriend’s job to do the kissing. ” Her voice was light and flirty. My Oakley was back, but for how long? She couldn’t just push this to the back of her mind anymore.

  Sarah and Jasper let us have ten minutes alone before they came back into the room. “How are you feeling now, sweetheart?” Sarah asked.

  Oakley smiled. “Better. ”

  “I’ve just got off the phone with Linda and the trial has been put on hold for three days. ”

  Oakley bowed her head, cringing at how her collapse had delayed proceedings.

  “It’s okay,” Sarah said, soothingly. “After what’s just happened they had to. We need to get you well before you return. ”

  “It’s a good thing, Oakley. ” I squeezed her hand. “It means you have a few more days to prepare. ” She reluctantly nodded in agreement. I knew she felt embarrassed and just wanted it over, but she had to put her health first.

  We met up with my family, Ali, and Oakley’s grandparents in the café and filled them in on how she was. Oakley asked for an hour alone to ‘rest’. Everything was going at a hundred miles an hour, she needed a few minutes to stop and think.

  I sat opposite Sarah and Jasper, absentmindedly running my finger around the rim of the coffee mug. Leaving her alone felt wrong. Sarah was going to pop back up when she’d finished her drink and if Oakley wanted company she would text and tell us to come back.

  “I still don’t think she should go back,” Jasper argued. “We should just book our flights back to Australia and get her the hell out of here. ”

  “You can’t spend your life running from things, Jasper. That’s the reason she decided to be here. Oakley wants to do this. It’s the only way she’ll get closure and be able to move on,” Sarah said. I almost applauded.

  He narrowed her eyes. “We’ll let her decide. ”

  “She already has,” I cut in. “I asked her if she wanted to continue and she’s adamant that she does. ”

  Jasper shook his head angrily and mumbled something under his breath. I wasn’t even going to bother trying to pacify him.

  When the time was up, we quickly made our way back to her room. She was in exactly the same position, staring down at the thin sheet covering her legs.

 
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