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The Other Side of Insanity

Guest Skykat

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Rating: T

Main Characters: Christine Jones, Original character.

Genre: Angst

Length: One shot

Description: My take on a possible explanation behind Christine Jones's irrational behaviour regarding Melody.

I know people have already read this in the challenge thread but it was a rushed entry and I wanted to try and right some of the mistakes I noticed when I submitted it but didn't have time to change. I also wanted to try and incorporate some of the suggestions given by those who were kind enough to review. Any feedback contructive or otherwise is welcomed, I'm a bit out of practice writing wise.

This story is for Frankie for being afantastic proof reader and an even better friend. Without her this would have been a very different story. :)

The Other Side of Insanity

Father Bernard Lawrence tapped his pen irritably on the side of his desk. He had been attempting to write his sermon for a good half an hour but so far hadn’t got any further along than the first line and even that wasn’t any good. His head ached, one of those dull aches that didn’t hurt exactly but were just a nuisance and made it increasingly difficult to concentrate.

A sharp, almost insistent rapping on the door was enough to drive the sermon completely from his mind. Slowly he stretched out his legs and stood up, moving his papers deliberately inside the gold trimmed notebook he used to record his sermons. He shut the cover firmly and placed his pen carefully inside the expensive wrought iron pen holder, a present from one of his parishioners.

As he pulled the door open, the crisp night air hit him in a rush and it took a moment for him to regain his composure and take stock of the person in front of him.

“Christine my dear, what brings you out at such a late hour?”

As a regular church goer Christine Jones was a familiar face at services and also at parish events, a lot of which were held right here in this very house but never before had she come here out of hours and Father Lawrence was suitably intrigued.

“Father please forgive me for disturbing you but I just didn’t know where else to go, I’m in such need of someone to talk to and you did say your door was always open…”

Her words had come out in a breathless rush but she hesitated now, unsure of herself and not at all like the formidable woman he was used to seeing in her element organising the latest fundraiser or campaigning against something she disagreed with.

“Of course, come in, make yourself comfortable. Would you like a hot drink, perhaps a nip of brandy in your tea?”

He headed into the kitchen and set the kettle to boil without waiting for her response. He added a generous measure of brandy, another parishioner gift, to each cup and as the kettle boiled he made up two mugs of tea and headed back into the sitting room.

The fire roared from the side of the room, bathing her in a soft red light but she seemed unmoved, sat still and upright in one of his most comfortable velvet backed chairs. She still wore her coat, the collar pulled up high over her neck and her eyes, largely hidden under the oversized hat were red and looked almost painfully stained with tears. She accepted the cup he offered but made no attempt to drink it, instead busying herself by staring at it, as if mesmerised.

“It might help to talk about it my child, I’m assuming that is why you’re here,” he coaxed, both concerned about her and curious too. Christine Jones was not the sort of woman to let her guard down, usually she hid her emotions behind the walls of formidability that battled through every campaign or cause she championed.

“I’m not sure where to start Father…”

She let out a deep shuddering breath and finally took a sip of her tea. Placing the mug back on the table she perched on the edge of her chair, her hands clasped tightly together as finally she began to speak.

“I had a visitor today. Mr Holden, you know who I mean Father, he has two sons, one of them is that policeman who was accused of his wife’s murder then got back with his ex with indecent haste.”

Father Lawrence managed a nod, unable to help the smile that graced his lips as the formidable Christine emerged to give her scathing view on the local sports coach. It proved the fighting spirit was still in there somewhere.

“He said he was concerned about Melody, that she had been assaulted at a party but I asked Mel and she denied it. Later though that awful boy came round, I caught him coming out of her room. He said that what Mr Holden had said was true and Melody came out and she confirmed that it was true. I know my Mel Father and she’s not a liar but I’m afraid I didn’t handle it very well. I told her not to go to the police.”

She was wringing her hands together more tightly than ever, her nails cutting into the flesh on her hands, ugly red wheals forming on her skin. The light from the fire was dancing shadows all over her face creating an aura of mystery, which somehow, despite her vulnerability, only served to make her appear even more formidable.

“You must think I’m a horrible person. Mel does and that boy, Geoff he said some terrible things about me not caring and that’s not true at all.” She stood up now and began pacing alongside the fireplace; three strides then an about turn and the same thing again.

Her pacing stopped and she was staring now, staring into midair, a distracted, almost blank expression on her face. In a sudden movement her features hardened and she turned to meet his eyes.

“I’ve seen what happens with these things Father, it gets twisted and it ends up with the victim being the one to blame. The lawyers make the girl out to be a whore, she led him on, it was all her fault, and her life is made a misery…”

She took a deep shuddering breath, the pain etched through every hard line of her face and he attempted words of comfort. “That’s not necessarily true Christine…”

“But it is Father, I know it to be true, I know because I’ve been there, I know how our supposed justice system works!”

She cut him dead, her words coming out in a much higher pitch than usual and at three times the normal speed. Before Father Lawrence had even digested her proclamation let alone formulated the right response, she was speaking again, her hard expression enough to keep him silent.

“I knew a girl once; she was sixteen years old and full of confidence. She knew she was attractive and popular and she had such a social life, always out at parties or social events.”

Her features softened, her eyes glazed over and he had no doubt she was lost in happy memories. He smiled to see how innocent she looked in her most unguarded moment but as he watched her features twisted into a scowl and her eyes hardened, the dancing light leaving them as abruptly as it had arrived.

“This girl had a younger sister, five years younger who looked up to her, who used to sit on the edge of her bed watching as she did her make-up. The younger sister had a bedroom on the ground floor and at night the older sister would climb in through the bedroom window to avoid waking up their parents. Usually they’d sit up for a bit, chatting and the little sister would hear all about the night out.”

“But one night something happened and when the older sister came home she was crying and shaking, her makeup was all streaked, her dress torn. After some persuading she told her sister that she had been at a party and she’d been drunk and a boy had… well let us just say he’d gone too far with her.”

Christine moved suddenly to sit back down as if she was suddenly uncomfortable with standing but even seated she retained that ‘deer in the headlights look’. She was perched again on the edge of the chair; her fingers clasped once more together, her nails deepening the ugly red scars. She caught him watching and reached hurriedly instead for her mug, wrapping her hands around it.

“The little sister was very innocent but even she knew that the boy had done something wrong. She persuaded her older sister to tell the Police. It was her words that caused the older sister to report him.”

“At first it was fine but then the boy denied it and people started to turn against her, they called her a liar, said she’d led him on with her short skirts and her make-up. The girl tried her best, she kept her head held high, determined that she’d get justice in court.”

Her voice caught in her throat and the mug shook precariously in her hand, the tea occasionally escaping over the sides. Not that Christine noticed, remaining unflinching as a drop of the red hot tea landed on her hands.

“She never got justice though Father, in court it was his word against hers and there was no evidence, no proof. She told them what had happened, she told the truth but they didn’t believe her. He walked away scot-free and her life was ruined, she couldn’t go anywhere after that without people whispering and calling her names, it was a nightmare for her.”

Her tone had hardened and her face reverted back to the blank, slab wall. The shutters had gone back up and the moment of vulnerability had passed. Her expression wasn’t one of anger though it was of sadness and despair and if anything that disturbed Father Lawrence more than any other emotion she had so far displayed.

“She changed after that.” Her voice was monotone as she continued the story. “The make-up and mini skirts disappeared and she borrowed clothes from her mother’s wardrobe instead. She rarely went out and never to parties, she just used to sit up in her room staring into space and not eating.”

“Then one day she didn’t get up in the morning and her younger sister was sent to wake her. What she found was a note explaining that she couldn’t go on anymore, that going to the police had ruined her life. It said she hated her life, hated the way everyone looked at her like she was a liar and a whore. It said she was ready to end it all.”

Her eyes hardened once more, the lines in her face deepening as her anger twisted her features. “You see Father why I can’t let Melody go to the Police?”

“The girl in the story was my sister.”

“She killed herself that day, threw herself off a high cliff and all because I told her to go to the Police.”

She paused and looked him square in the eyes as he struggled to keep his expression from betraying his shock at her revelation. Her words as she spoke were cool and almost calculated and the hatred in her tone chilled Father Lawrence to the core.

“I will not let the same thing happen to my daughter.”


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