Nine hours after we arrived at the ER, we were finally allowed to go home.
When we walked out the doors of the hospital, I was surprised to see that it was dark out.
As we walked to the car, it began to rain.
When we got home, I went straight upstairs, raced into my room, and got in the shower. I desperately scrubbed every inch of my body over and over and over again, washing all the evidence down the drain.
Two and half hours later, the water ran cold, and my skin felt raw. I reluctantly got out of the shower. But I still didn’t feel clean.
The next three days went by excruciatingly slowly. My parents decided I wasn’t going back to Arizona that summer, like I had planned. I was going to stay in Texas where they could keep an eye on me, and where I could help the investigation along.
Candice never called, texted or came over. And my parents also started poking and prodding, asking, “HOW did this happen, honey? ... HOW could you have let this happen?”
But I didn’t say a word. For three days, I just sat up in my room, with my knees tucked up under my chest, not talking to anybody.
At the end of three days, there was a knock at the front door. It was a cop. A different cop, though, than the one that had come to see me in the emergency room. This guy was older. He was hardened, and very clearly, angry about something. I could tell, right from the start, that he did not want to be there.
He announced that the case was in a different precinct than they had originally thought, and the case had been passed to him. He would be handling the case from that point forward. My heart sank.
Because I was over the age of 18, he gave me the option of talking to him alone, without my parents in the room. I decided that was a better move, and led him into the backyard where we could talk privately.
He pulled three statements out of his briefcase-- a statement from Candice, a statement from Justin, and my own statement I had given in the emergency room. He asked me to read all three.
It wasn’t Justin’s statement that surprised me. It, of course, said everything that had happened between us had been consensual. ... I had expected that. But what I hadn’t expected, was what Candice’s statement said.
Candice’s statement said that all the bruises on my body were from me. Candice said I was so drunk, that I was stumbling around and falling all over myself, and that she was just trying to keep me from hitting the ground. Candice’s statement swore that she had seen me taking shot after shot after shot that night, and I was so drunk, I couldn’t see which end was up.
I recognized the handwriting on the statement, from so many years of passing notes back and forth in school with Candice. But I couldn’t believe what the handwriting was saying. Throughout the entire statement, Candice made no mention of Justin, whatsoever. No mention of the struggles, no mention of the fact that they had to pull Justin off of me... nothing. No mention of the truth. Candice had lied.
I flipped the statement over, looking for more of the story—there had to be more than this. “This isn’t true!” my mind screamed.
The cop then said, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t look like you have much of a case... based on these three statements alone, there’s no way you’re going to convince a jury of 12 that anything really happened that night.”
“But this is a lie!” I exclaimed, trying to stay calm. “Candice isn’t telling the truth about what happened! This is a lie!”
The cop looked at me, and raised an eyebrow.
“Really! Candice and I talked about what happened!” I cried. I sputtered for the words- “This isn’t it-- this is wrong! ...Go talk to someone else-- there were other people at the party that night, there were plenty of other witnesses! Please go talk to them, THEY will tell you what really happened!”
The cop looked at the paper that I was desperately waving around, sat back in his chair, and sighed.
“I could go talk to some of the other witnesses, I could, but if I do, I’m going to have to issue every one who was involved a “Minor In Possession of Alcohol” charge... including you.” He paused to let that sink in. “You don’t want all that on your shoulders as well, do you? ... You don’t want to have to deal with that on top of everything else. You’ve put your family through enough.”
Looking back on the situation, it was easy to see that this cop was just trying to get the paperwork off his desk. He didn’t care about me, and he definitely had no desire to find out what really had happened that night.
But right there, in that moment, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening.
“Why don’t you want to help me??” I screamed silently. Why didn’t he CARE that I have no memory after Justin made me that drink? Why didn’t he care that I was a virgin, had bruises all over my body, and had flashes of some really horrible things?
The cop continued, “I really think you should consider dropping the charges. These cases very quickly turn into a he-said, she-said battle. And since you can’t remember much that happened that night, there’s not much we can do.”
I sat in stunned silence.
“I really think it’d be easier on you, and it’d be easier on your family, if you just drop the charges and move on. ... YOU, and only you, have the power to make this all go away.”
I had no more fight left in me. All I could do was sit there.
The cop said, “I’m going to give you a few days to think about this.” He packed up the statements, and handed me his card. I couldn’t help but notice his face soften just a tiny bit, as he stood up.
“Give me a call in a few days, and let me know what you’ve decided. And remember, you, and only you, have the power to make this all go away,” he added.
And with that, he was gone.