Silence, page 52part #1 of Silence Series
I swallowed hard.
She just spoke. Help me. Her voice, her tone, her words splintered my heart.
“Oakley?” I mumbled in disbelief. I was scared and elated. She’d spoke to me, but it was to ask, beg, for help.
“Cole,” she repeated. Her voice was quiet and broken. I’d always wondered what she would sound like now. My eyes started like a bitch.
Keep it together.
She coughed. “Help me.”
Oh, God. I snapped into action, no longer fixed on the fact that she’d spoken. “What’s wrong? Where are you?” I questioned, and frantically searched for my keys while my heart was beating all over the place. “Oakley, where are you?” I repeated sternly.
Please, just tell me, baby.
Something was really, really wrong, and I was terrified.
“Um,” she whispered, trying to catch her breath as she sobbed. It took her a minute to explain to me where she was, but I got it. Her voice sounded like it agony to use.
I kept her on the phone, sprinted downstairs and out to my car. I just need to get to her. Right now. She was on her own near a layby off the motorway. What the hell was she doing there?
“Cole?” Mum shouted, jumping up as I ran past her and Dad on the sofa. I should probably stop to tell them, something could’ve happened to Max, but I was too distracted to think straight.
A journey that should have taken thirty minutes didn’t even take twenty. I slammed my breaks on and pulled over at the side of the road where she thought she was. Jumping out of my car, I shouted, “Oakley? Oakley?”
Seconds later, she appeared from behind a row of trees. She stumbled on the uneven ground as she made her way to me. Why was she hiding?
I closed the distance between us quickly and wrapped my arms around her. “What’s wrong?” I mumbled against the side of her head. Thank God, she’s okay.
Her body trembled under mine and she gasped for air.
“Oakley, calm down.”
Sobbing, she tried to calm down, but she was breathing so hard and gripping me so tight her nails cut into my skin. Whatever had her so terrified send chills down my spine. I stroked her hair and whispered into her ear until I felt her relax.
I just had to get her to calm down. “I need you to tell me what’s wrong, okay?”
She nodded against my shoulder. I gripped her upper arms and tried to pull back to see her, but she clung to me tighter and whimpered, burying her head in my chest. “What is it?”
“I– I don’t want you to l-look at me,” she whispered, her voice cracking and body shaking with silent sobs.
My stomach twisted with unease. I was almost to scared to ask. “Why wouldn’t you want me to look at you, baby?”
She was quiet for a minute. “I can’t… I can’t do it again.”
“What can’t you do?”
She shook her head and dug her fingers in my back harder. My back stung, but I didn’t care. “You can tell me anything, you know that. Why is this so hard for you to tell me?” I asked her. “Oakley, please, what can’t you do?” I was getting desperate, and I just needed to know what was wrong so I could fix it. “Why are you alone?” Where the hell was Max?
“I thought it s-stopped.” She took a ragged breath and continued, “It stopped when I was thirteen, but he’s… he’s ba–back.”
“Who’s back? What stopped?” I shook my head, trying to make sense of what she was saying. Something stopped when she was thirteen, but someone’s back? Who? It didn’t make sense. No one left when she was thirteen.
“F-Frank,” she stuttered, sobbing harder. Her legs gave way, and she slumped against my chest.
“Who’s Frank? I don’t know anyone called Frank.”
I had to wait until she calmed down again. I held her closer and kissed the top of her head. “Shh, it’s okay,” I whispered.
Those two minutes were the longest and most painful of my life. But when she did, she continued, “You met him at the Christmas party at that hotel.”
I did? The only Christmas party I remembered was Max’s company’s, but that was years ago. I didn’t remember anyone called Frank. “I remember the party but not him. Who is he, baby?”
“He’s the man who… He’s the o-one who hurt me.” Her voice was quiet as she confessed, so quiet I barely heard her.
“Hurt you,” I repeated. “How did he hurt–”
I froze mid-sentence as I realised what she was trying to tell me.
I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.
“Hurt you. He… touched you?” I couldn’t say the words. She didn’t need to confirm it. Her reaction did. She burst into fresh tears, crying hysterically and pressing into my body like she was trying to disappear.
I had no strength left. Her confession knocked everything out of me. We both fell to the floor and she landed in my lap. I gripped hold of her and buried my face in her hair. My lungs burned. Every single muscle in my body ached. Someone had hurt her. Badly. I squeezed my eyes.
I wanted her to tell me I’d made a mistake.
“Where is he?” I asked through clenched teeth. Wherever he was, whoever he was, I was going to fucking kill him.
“At our c-camp,” she murmured against my neck, stuttering and sobbing.
My heart stopped. Why would he be at their camp?
“But your dad’s there.” Her body turned to stone.
“Oakley?” I whispered, terrified of her answer to my next question. “Does Max know?”
I held my breath, waiting for her answer. Please say no. Please. She dipped her head once in confirmation. I gagged and swallowed bile.
He knew some sick pervert had hurt her, and he was sitting around a fucking campfire with him. I pulled back to look her, but she lowered her head, staring at the ground in shame. I cupped her chin and tried to lift. “Look at me.”
She shook her head, letting out a quiet sob. Tears dropped from her chin to the floor. I’d never seen anyone so broken. “Please, baby.” I bent my head down awkwardly and managed to see most of her face.
“Oakley, did your dad… did he? Did he… you know?”
She shook her head again. That was a small mercy.
“No, he didn’t but he…he let him.”
She broke down and I was so painful to witness. Max was her dad! How could he? He should be the one protecting her. My hands shook in anger. I felt ill and so murderously angry I just wanted to murder them both.
Oakley curled up on my lap and sobbed. The sound shredded me.
I knew it had to be something big but I never imagined this.
How could I have missed it? I should have known. I’d been there through her entire damn life and I didn’t know a thing!
“Where is you camp?” I asked slowly, trying to keep the anger out of my voice. It didn’t work.
She gasped and pulled back. Her face was soaking wet with tears. “N-no. You can’t, Cole”
I can’t? How could she expect me to do nothing after what I’d just found out?
“Please. I-I can’t. My mum. Please, don’t,” she rambled, her voice cutting out occasionally.
“Shh,” I whispered, wiping the tears from her cheeks. I didn’t know how I managed to stay so calm and not jump up and go look for them. I didn’t feel calm, but she came first, and I needed to make sure she was safe before I did anything.
I pressed my forehead to hers and felt a tear slide down my cheek. Shit. “What about your mum?”
“I-It’ll break her heart. I can’t. I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t want her to h-hate me.”
“Is that what he told you?” I spat angrily. God, I was going to be sick. I took a deep breath and swallowed.
She nodded weakly, her head barely moving. “I w-wanted to tell her. I tried to when it first started, but D-Dad walked in. He shouted at me when she left. I was s-so scared. I didn’t want to hurt Mum. He said it would kill her.” She coughed to clear her throat. “He tol
If I wasn’t holding her together I’d have jumped up and paced. I needed to stand, to punch something, someone, everything.
“That’s why you didn’t speak for almost eleven years?” Her dad was the reason. The hatred I felt for him coursed through my body, making my hands shake.
“Oakley, where is he?” I asked again.
Her eyes widened in panic. “You can’t. P-Please, Cole.”
She begged me not to go after them. As much as I wanted to go and rip both their heads off, I couldn’t leave her alone. She was so broken and vulnerable. I hated seeing her like that. I wouldn’t leave her terrified.
I sighed and lifted her chin again, but like before, she refused to look me in the eye. I hated that she felt ashamed. None of this was her fault.
After ten minutes of sitting on the ground holding her, crying together and trying not to throw up, I finally came to a decision. If she didn’t want me to go find them, we were reporting them.
“We’re going to the police.” They were not getting away with what they’d done to her.
She gasped and pulled back. “No. Mum will—”
I pressed my finger to her lips and shook my head. I wasn’t having that. I had to get it through to her that he had to pay and it wasn’t her fault. No one was going to blame her. “Oakley, your mum is not going to hate you, she couldn’t. What happened wasn’t your fault. You’re her daughter, and she loves you. She won’t hate you,” I said fiercely, begging her with my eyes to believe me.
She had to believe it.
“Look at me, please.” She raised her head slightly but still wouldn’t look directly into my eyes. “Everything’s going be okay, I promise. We just need to go to the police.”
She shook her head defiantly. “I can’t.”
“Let’s get in the car and get out of here,” I said. “We’ll talk about it on the way back.”
She was boneless so I had to carry her to the car. She gripped on around my neck for dear life. I put her in the car and kissed her forehead. “I’ve got you, baby,” I whispered.
On the way back, I begged and pleaded. It took almost half an hour to convince her going to the police was the right thing to do. She was petrified. I was going to the police whether she agreed to it or not, though. There was no way either of them was getting away with it.
Once we got to the station I sat her down and went to get help. As soon as I said I needed to speak to someone about acts of abuse to a child things moved quickly.
I knelt down in front of Oakley and stroked her cheek. I loved her so much I hated seeing her in pain. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to get her through this. “Someone’s going to be out to see us soon.”
They were arranging for a female officer to interview her. She hadn’t said one word since agreeing to this, and she still hadn’t looked at me. However she felt about me at the minute wasn’t as important as putting those sick bastards in prison.
“Hi. I’m Marie. Do you want to follow me through to the interview room?” Marie said, smiling warmly at Oakley.
She nodded and got to her feet with shaking legs. I stood up, too, but she shook her head. “I want to do this alone.”
What the hell? I didn’t want to leave her alone for a single second. How was she going to cope going over it all when she completely broke down telling me before?
“Please, Cole, I don’t want you to hear it all,” she whispered, a tear trickled down her cheek and she walked away from me without another word.
I sat down in a daze. Was that what she was worried about? I knew I didn’t want to hear it. It made me sick, but I wanted to be there for her. I’d do anything for her, no matter how much it hurt me.
As I waited for her, so many things passed through my mind. I tried to think of something, any little clue that I’d missed, but there was nothing. She never seemed scared of Max. He didn’t act any differently towards her. He was the perfect, concerned, protective father. Of course, he was, you prat, that’s how he got away with it.
I gritted my teeth and hung my head. She’d gone through hell for years right under her nose and no one knew a thing. No one helped her when she needed it.
I would never let her down again.
When the door finally opened, I jumped up and rushed to her side. She looked exhausted and slumped against my chest. “What happens now?” I asked, holding her close.
“We’ll arrest Mr Farrell and Mr Glosser and bring them in for questioning,” Marie told me. Glosser. That was his surname.
“I want to go now,” Oakley whispered, gripping hold of my shirt. I nodded reluctantly. There were thousands more questions that I wanted to ask Marie, but Oakley looked so defeated. I knew I needed to take her home…where she was going to have to go through it all again.
As soon as we got close enough to her house, I tensed. Max’s car was in the drive, along with a police car. Oakley looked at me with a horrified expression.
“No,” she whispered.
“It’s fine, baby. We won’t go in yet.” I stopped the car at the end of the road so we could wait until they had left. “Are you okay?” I stupidly asked.
Are you okay? Of course she isn’t okay!
She shrugged, her eyes dazed. Everything had happened so quickly my head was spinning. I still couldn’t process everything properly. “It’s going to be alright. We’ll do it together. I’ll be right with you every step of the way. I promise.”
She fell into silence again, using physical actions to reply to questions, so I gave up asking. We weren’t going back a step. If she needed time that was fine by me. Whatever helped her.
I looked back at her house as the door opened. Max was being walked to the car with his hands behind his back in handcuffs. Seeing him made me want to start the car and run him down.
Oakley shrank in the seat. She looked like a scared, lost little girl. Swallowing a lump in my throat, I squeezed her limp hand, trying to comfort her.
“Time to go in,” I said when the police car drove off.
I parked outside her house. “I know you are. I am, too, but we’re doing this together, remember? You’re amazing, Oakley, and so brave. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
She looked over with tears in her eyes. “How can you still say that?”
I didn’t even want to think about why she thought I’d do a runner. It pissed me off too much. “I’m staying because I love you and nothing in this world will ever change that.”
She took a deep breath and opened her door. I followed.
Sarah practically jumped on her daughter as we walked inside. She pulled Oakley in her arms and sobbed. “Oh, sweetheart, you’re okay,” she mumbled, pulling back to look at Oakley. I wanted to interrupt but I waited. “Listen, everything’s going to be okay. I don’t want you to worry, but your dad’s been arrested for…” She stopped talking and whimpered. “Well, it doesn’t matter because it’s not true. I’ve got to go to the station, so you wait here with Jasper, okay?”
What? I was just about so scream at her when I realised she didn’t know yet. Of course the officers that arrested Max didn’t stay around to chat about it and offer explanations. I didn’t know what he’d been arrested for but it was clear that whatever it was it didn’t give away what he’d done to her.
I was just about to open my mouth and explain for her when Oakley stepped forward. “I-It is true,” she confessed in a croaky voice, barely above a whisper.
The room fell so silent you could hear a pin drop. Everyone’s mouths fell open in shock. I watched Sarah as the shock from Oakley talking turned to horror as she registered exactly what she’d said. Sarah gulped; her eyes were wide with fear and she shook her head.
“How do you? You’re talking… Oakley, honey, what are you saying?”
Oakley said nothing, but she didn’t need to. Her tired, broken eyes said everything.
“No. Please, tell me it’s
She stepped back, pressing her body into mine. “I’m s-sorry, Mum,” she whispered, looking at the ground. The hatred I had for Max doubled as she apologised. Oakley had nothing to be sorry for. We were the ones that should be apologising to her. Eleven damn years she had been living with this and we had no idea.
“No,” Sarah sobbed, her voice broke, and she clamped her hand over her mouth.
Oakley cried as Sarah ran to the bathroom, crying hysterically and gagging. She turned around and fell into me. “She hates me! Oh God, h-he was right, she h-hates me,” she murmured.
“Shh, no, she doesn’t. Not you, never you.” Looking up, I saw that everyone was still frozen in their seats. I pleaded with my eyes for one of them to do something. Anything. I was so fucking lost here.
Jasper suddenly jumped up as if it had finally sunk in. “I’m gonna fucking kill him,” he raged, turning red in anger. My dad grabbed Jasper just as he was about to run for the door. “Get off me! I’m gonna murder him. I’ll murder him!”
Oakley turned around and whispered desperately, “Jasper.”
“He touched you.” Jasper’s face crumpled in pain as he looked at his sister. “Oakley.” She shook her head and pressed into me. I was strong enough this time to hold her up. Carrying her to the sofa, I sat her down on my lap and wrapped my arms around her fragile body.
“No? He didn’t?” Jasper questioned. The look of desperation on his face mirrored mine earlier when I willed it not to be true.
“Not h-him, but he knew,” she explained. Her voice cracked, and she coughed, rubbing her neck.
“Oakley, sweetie, I…” my mum said, trailing off, unable to find the words. Mum had mascara running down her face and puffy eyes from crying. She looked a total mess, and usually it would bother her, but right now, I could tell she couldn’t care less.
The bathroom door clicked open, and Oakley tensed. I looked down to reassure her but stopped open mouthed as I saw her peering up like a scared little girl. Seeing her like that was like taking a bullet. Was that terrified expression how she looked up at her father when Frank abused her?
No, don’t think of that.
I clamped my mouth shut so I wouldn’t throw up.
Sarah walked over to us, and I had never been so nervous before. You have to believe her. She pulled Oakley out of my arms, and they both sank to the floor. “It’s okay, honey,” she whispered, stroking Oakley’s hair soothingly. “Shhh, it’s okay, I’m here. I’m here.” They cried together and clung to each other. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. You’re safe now, sweetheart. I promise. Oh God, I’m so sorry,” Sarah sobbed.
I leant down and held my head in my hands. Why her? Things like that happened to strangers not to someone I loved. All the time she’d been keeping that secret in, afraid that it would break her families’ hearts or that no one would even believe her.
How could we all have failed her so badly?
We all cried together. It felt like I was trapped inside a nightmare, but I knew I wouldn’t wake up from this.
“What happened?” Jasper asked. His eyes were haunted. He slid to the floor with his mum and sister.
Oakley looked up and pressed her back against my legs. Clearing her throat, she slowly told her story, stopping to cough or to regain control. As she explained that at the age of five, shortly after Jasper refused to go on any more camping trips, Frank started to turn up. She told us in as little detail as she could what happened.
She told us that the first time Frank raped her was when she was just ten years old.
Bile rose to my throat. I clenched my jaw together until it throbbed in pain. Taking deep breaths, I tried to stay calm for her sake. She was just ten.
“It stopped when I was t-thirteen. Dad never explained why. He didn’t even tell me I s-shouldn’t talk still, but then he didn’t n-need to. I really believed him when he said it was over. At first I was scared to go away again, but he said he wanted to…”
She paused and took a deep breath. Wanted to what? I stroked her hair, trying to give her strength I didn’t even have inside myself.
“That he w-wanted our relationship to be how it was when I was little. Before. I wanted that, too. I wanted him to be a p-proper dad again. I really believed him.”
She broke down again, and I felt like I was dying.
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