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The account you are about to read is a fictionalised version of a real life experience. This story was based upon my mother’s personal experiences within the legal system. Her journey made her into another person. After losing the man she loved she had to overcome being accused of killing him too. There were times she felt trapped and beaten by a system that promised to protect its citizens. This narrative is my attempt to show how one wrong accusation can take a huge emotional tole on a person.

19th June 2004 (Past)

Every step that I had took caused the splintered floorboards to groan. When I finally reached the door to our bedroom the palm of my hand pushed against it. I remember releasing a deep sigh remembering the argument that Cam and I had the night before. The look that had rested on his face as he stormed out of the house still haunts me. The hurt in his eyes reflected both of our frustrations. (The pain I had caused him was to remain etched upon his person for eternity.) Why couldn’t he understand that I didn’t want any more children? I stood outside our bedroom desperately listening for any sign of movement. Voices echoed from within the room and I realised the source must have originated from the television. I popped my head around the corner of the door and my eyes surveyed the room. Slowly they rested upon the bed. To my surprise the room was completely empty. The kids must have left the television on before they had left for their father’s home. As I analysed the room further my eyes rested upon a pile of dirty clothing. At first glance it appeared to have been kicked under the bed. I slowly made a grab for Cam’s clothes but was met with resistance. I tugged harder and his bloated body rolled forward. I had never seen his skin so pale, it felt like ice. Foam that had been mixed with his blood rested upon his cold marble lips. Screams echoed around the room and it’s only once I had dialled 999 that I realised the screams were my own.

11th August 2004 (Past)

I first met DC Sayers on the 11th of August. I had been lying in bed completely naked, enjoying the sensation of the soft cotton sheets enveloping my body. In that moment I was slowly allowed to disappear from the world. The notion silence is golden had never been so fitting. For once I had tamed my racing mind, stopping the memories and nightmares that plagued me on a daily basis. The bang of my front door as it was kicked in ripped me from my precious utopia. Sayers had invaded my inner peace by forcing himself into my home. Without any warning he leapt at my resting form like a starving lion jumping at its prey. He pushed my body  against the bedroom wall and prized my legs apart. I can remember begging the wall to support my shaking form. I can still remember the cold chill of the handcuffs against my limp wrists. I was scared, I was shocked: I was under his total control. Our first encounter was just over a year ago and yet I can remember it as if it was yesterday. The circling arms of accusation and justice have never let me escape their possessive grasp since.

8th August 2005 (Court 19)

The 8th of August is our third face-to-face encounter. The second was on the 12th of August 2004, where he gifted me my “pretty” little ankle bracelet, a token of our sick, twisted relationship. The metallic object and I had eventually became one. It monitored and confined my every movement. A phone call each night made sure I was in the confinement of my agreed boundaries.

I can feel my gift rub up against my leg at this very moment, acting as a permanent reminder that my life is no longer my own. I currently find myself standing in a wooden room, restrained by the wooden box I am kept in. He is perched, almost posing, right in front of me. Just like our first encounter, he has all the power. He caresses my lines with his probing fingers and investigating eyes. I am here defenceless. Once again I am handcuffed and awaiting instruction. His trained eagle eye examines my every reaction. He has desires; to know me, to know everything about me, to get inside my head. His ferocious examining has left me shaken and exhausted. The relationship between me and him has become something of a dominatrix. He’s the master, and I’m the submissive. The only difference is that we have no safe word, and I am not consenting. He enjoys pushing me to my emotional limits, and having the say over what’s to happen next. He is calculated with his investigation, skilled even.

The jury sucks him up. They take him all in. One big gulp after the other. He knows his craft and boy does he exert it. Charged with a crime of passion, seduction and lies. He knows he has me. He begins to work me, tenderise me, coerce me. Over and over again he is merciless. Back and forth we go. He flirts, I flirt, he flirts, I flirt. I can feel his frustration. He needs to break me. I can see the hunger burn in his eyes. He yearns to own my body, my every movement, my life. Although sore from all our exercise I refuse to yield. The sweat of my innocence trickles down my face, past my slightly parted lips, and then falls from my chin and rests upon my clothed breasts. The droplet of panic lies there, clearly visible, it won’t go unnoticed. As his dark eyes zone in on my heaving lumps, he hardens. I can feel his determination to please everyone in this room. No longer am I the accused; I am the prey.

As I sit there waiting to know my destiny I feel multiple sets of eyes undress me. I am under scrutiny. They think I have done it. I know they do. The weight of their stares is enough to make my mouth dry and my throat ache. I ask for water in an attempt to calm the throb. As the water enters my mouth it sets my nerve endings on fire. Panic spreads through my body. What if he wins? What if he gets to own me? My heart rate increases and my cheeks redden into a major flush. His probing begins again. My thighs tighten and my stomach becomes rigid in anticipation. Blow after blow I am left there, examined by 12 pairs of hawklike eyes. Eyes that are waiting for my body to yield a particular secret. The joke, however, is on them. There is no secret. There is no fantastical murder story. I didn’t murder the man I loved. And I never wanted to go on without him. Every day that I am forced to live without him is a personal hell. I am left to deal with the consequences of his selfish actions on my own.

9th August 2005 (Court 19)

“Today is a new day…”

I keep repeating my mantra in an attempt to stabilise my breathing. My palms are moist, my skin is cold, and my eyes begin to water as I anticipate his next attack. As I gasp for air I realise that I am drowning. His vigorous workout yesterday left me unable to sleep or eat. I can barely focus on the words that are coming out of his moist, pink lips. My head throbs and my eyes burn. Dizziness takes over and I can feel myself bounce off of the panelled wall that looms behind me.

9th August 2005 (Court 16)

I just want this to be over. I can feel his questioning gaze follow my every movement. Last night I could smell him, lingering in the corner of my concrete cell. He never leaves my presence. Wherever I go he is there. I can feel him rub up and down my ankle as I walk. When I close my eyes I can taste him in the air. I can feel his eyes penetrate my clothes. I can see his aged form rest within his old suit. He is all I can think about. My body has begun to memorise his every detail. We have become complicated lovers. No matter how hard I try to escape this relationship he pulls me back down to his level. I find myself now playing dirty, looking at any way to free myself from his clawing grasp.

His sharp tongue darts for me as I ready myself on my podium. I can feel the wound of my heart tear further. His vicious accusations lacerate my calm facade. Tears fill my eyes as I begin to relive the 19th of June. I know I am innocent and yet I find myself buried knee high in evidence suggesting that I am not. With each condemning statement and photo I find myself shrinking into my chair. His presence forces me to my knees. As he produces each photo he manipulates my words, twists them even. My mouth has become his and he directs it in every way he wants. Each mouthful leads me down a deeper path. The eyes have now become ears, they latch on to every word that he forces me to produce. I wonder if they know about the pain and humiliation that he has caused me. I have bared myself naked and been forced to speak about my most intimate and private moments. Even though I have done all this he still probes; he still demands me to reveal more. I beg for him to stop, to leave me a sliver of my memory un-tainted. He refuses.

10th August 2005 (Court 16)

Today is the day that I finally leave this psychedelic haze of a relationship. We both sit in this now all too familiar room waiting for news. I have done all I can to make them believe me, to believe how much I loved Cam. I would never have hidden his medication. I would never have hurt him. It didn’t matter how violent and angry he would get with me.

As I look around this tense environment I can see my opponent’s muscles tense under his white shirt. He knows that this nightmare is finally coming to an end. One way or another this weird demeaning relationship will reach its final climax. Our brutal experiences have left me bruised and scarred. Each scar is a symbol of my fractured self. A fear grows in the pit of my stomach as we near the final verdict. I no longer know who I am. What am I without him? The answer is simple: I am merely a weak mirror image of the women that I once was. Losing Cam had basically killed me, and this trial has extinguished any good memory that he and I once shared. Who will I be once DC Sayers and I are forced to part for good?

Eyes and ears zone in on my broken form. They look beneath every crack wondering if they have made the right decision. I glance across the room where I am forced to lock eyes with him. He suddenly appears weaker than before. In fact he looks just as tired and weak as me. I am ashamed to have once had faith and belief in the justice that he tries and fails to embody. We both come to realise that he has become the prey, the one in the wrong. His superior walks into the room and I am ordered to stand. I do so. I am ordered to listen and I can barely believe my ears. My mouth allows a choked breath to escape my open mouth. My shaking knees give out on me and I find myself collapsed on the floor. I have done it. I have escaped the inescapable. I belong to nobody but myself. His anger radiates from every pour of his being as he storms out of the court into a crowded hall. I have finally been freed from Hell. Realisation hits me then and there, he can finally be wiped from my memory. Like a bad break up I look forward to never having to speak of it, or him, again. Cheers from my family members can be heard echoing throughout the building. It strikes me then that I had forgotten my family. He had consumed my very being and existence. This last year has caused me to neglect everything that I once held dear. In a sense I am afraid to come off  auto pilot. I am afraid to be myself. Most of all I am afraid to go home and allow myself to feel. I have been a shell for so long… What is considered normal anymore?

Bodies flow out of the room and down towards the main exit. I have been warned that cameras are waiting to capture our break up. I have been warned that the reporters want the glory details and gossip. Despite the warning, I am taken aback as I am forced to confront the metallic entourage. I am still unable to believe that this is real. My cell offered little of the outside world. This is the first time that I have truly been able to breathe fresh air. I was so sure that I would be condemned.

My body is still producing a lake of tears by the time I make my great escape. Cameras chase and question my every step. I just want to go home. I want to disappear. Panic gets into my lungs causing me to breathe rigorously. The ache in my chest gains ferocity and my eyes begin to fuse one image with another. My stomach churns and my skin begins to boil. Am I truly going to be free? When will this field of lenses leave me alone? I feel like an eternity of judgement and stares has only just begun. It doesn’t feel that I have resolved anything. As I reach for the car door and step in I finally begin to feel safe in the confinements of my metal cage. As I look down at my shivering body, the clean ironed clothes begin to look worn, my washed hands feel nothing but grimy. The only thing I wish to do is to get home and wash away this memory. Wash away him and our final encounter.

Kirsty Gardiner

Kirsty Gardiner

Kirsty Gardiner was born and raised in Essex and has a keen passion for writing Flash Fiction. Some of her favourite writers consist of F.Scott Fitzgerald and China Miéville. Throughout her work, Kirsty uses her personal experiences as inspiration. For this writer, writing is an emotional release. After finishing her B.A Degree in English with Creative Writing, Kirsty plans to complete her PGCE English course at the Institute Of Education (IOE.)