I did not know how I reached back home. I lay down in fetus position, hoping that I could wrap myself from the outside world. What had happened to me? Why? My mind still can’t able to process what had happened?
Why did Jack do that? What did I do? Whose life did I destroy? Did he mistake me for some else? No, I could not be. His actions were deliberate. All his words played again in my mind.
Did he pick me deliberately to ask the way to the administrative office on the very first day?
“You are a dangerous woman Miss. Johnson” The way he said when I saw his classroom. Was there a hidden meaning in his words?
Did he purposefully misguide me when he asked me out?
My thoughts were getting more and more tangled in confusion, and I could not come out of it. I felt as if I was running around and around in an enclosed place with no way out. It was suffocating, and I was too shocked to come out.
I found myself getting shook to come back to reality. I looked up to see Paige with a worried face. She sat next to me. “Hannah!”
Her words broke the barrier of thoughts, and I burst into tears. I wailed and wailed with heavy sobs. Paige hugged me tightly without any comments. She let me cry out my shock. After my wailing reduced down to sobs, she quietly caresses my back.
“What happened, Hannah?”
“I don’t know Paige. I don’t know.” I said in misery.
“Tell me what happened today morning.” I relayed the events that happened in the department head’s office. I recalled the events hoping that I may get some hints, but my voice went down in loss of hope.
Paige was silent after I said all. I looked up to see her face and find her dumbstruck. “Paige?” I called her.
“What are you telling Hannah?” She asked in a shocked voice. “How could they say that you have stolen the code? I had seen you designing from scratch. I can vouch for that. Mr. Bell can also vouch for that.”
I shook my head. “I think Mr. Bell might also be involved in this. But, if not, how come Jack had come exactly on the moment I was about to submit my final project?”
“But, if his company wanted your project, he could have talked to you, right? So why did he acted this way?”
I shook my head again. “No, I don’t think it is about the project.”
Paige asked me why. I then told him what Jack said to me “He said that this is what I will get for destroying other people’s life. It is planned sabotage.”
Paige was appalled now. “Whose life did you destroyed? He must have mistaken you.”
“I don’t know. I could not be able to find the reason for his actions.” Tears flew down my cheeks again.
“Oh! Hanna,” Paige whispered and hugged me. She then asked, “Did Ms. Evans haven’t said anything?”
I shook my head. “No. They don’t want to get on the wrong side of Jack’s company. So they were in a hurry to take action against me. So all the doors are closed.”
Paige became angry at my sad voice. “What? You cannot leave it as such. Are you not going to fight? So this is your dream Hannah?”
“How? What can I do?” I asked her.
“We will find it how. But get up now. Come out of this. You are innocent. You will get justice.” Paige made me come out of my room. She prepared dinner for me and made me eat. She never let me alone and slept next to me. I looked at her peacefully sleeping figure. After long thought, I decided. Looking at Paige, I said to myself, “I will fight Paige. But if I don’t get justice, I will leave. If this is to target me, then I don’t want you to get hurt. I already lost Amy; I don’t want to lose you either.”
I was staying there a week after the incident. I reached out to the University via emails giving my explanation and demanding their answers, but all in vain.
I did not step out of my place as I could not face my fellow students. I felt as if every pair of eyes were looking at me with disgust and disgrace. When I said this to Paige, she denied that. She said it was my imagination. But I disagreed with her.
When I tried to go to the University, I was not allowed inside the campus. Even Paige tried to talk to the management, but they warned her not to get involved. I stopped Paige in the fear that she might also be thrown out.
I tried to call Jack, but he did not pick up my calls. When Paige heard that, she got angry at me. But I wanted answers. Seeing my frustration, Paige tried reaching Jack, but we got the message saying that his number was disconnected from active service.
While I was pondering in my thoughts on what to do next, I heard a commotion outside the door. I heard Paige’s voice shouting at someone. Worried, I looked out to see Paige and Max were shouting at each other.
“Paige,” I called her. Hearing my voice, Paige turned towards me and said, “Hannah, please go inside.”
Max turned towards me, “Hannah! Wait, I want to talk to you. I have been trying to talk to you since Monday.”
“She is not going to talk to you.” Paige interrupted him angrily.
“Let Hannah say that,” Max said back to her.
“Wait, Paige.” I stopped her and turned towards Max. “What do you want to say?”
Max came towards me. Seeing this, Paige hurriedly came and stood next to me. Max saw her and sighed. He then spoke to me, “Hannah. I am sorry. I never knew that they are going to expel you.”
“Don’t you?” Paige scoffed at him.
I raised a hand to silence Paige. “Max, you spoke to me on Sunday. You could have given me time to think about it or correct myself. So why did you go all the way to the department head to say about me?”
Max looked at me with guilt. “Hannah, I never had the intention to talk about you. But as soon as I reach the campus on Monday morning, I was asked to come to the department head’s office. Out of the blue, Mr. David started questioning me about you and Mr. Martinez. I did not have any choice.”
Paige was now surprised at his words. “But how did they knew it?”
Max answered, “I asked the same. Ms. Evans said that Jack had confessed about you two and also said that I had seen you guys going out.”
Paige and I looked at each other after hearing this. I sighed and looked at Max. “I won’t say that I am not upset. I am because it is my future that is at stake. But I am not going to blame you for that.”
“Sorry again, Hannah,” Max said and left the place.
Paige and I entered inside and sat on the couch. “Looks like Jack had planned clearly,” I said in a bitter voice.
“Why Hannah? Have you seen him before?”
I shook my head at her. I am still without answers, and that was most torturous. At least I could have found some peace if I knew why. It was brutal to get punished without knowing the reason.
After a week, I vacated the house to go back to my home. What is the use in staying back if I cannot get any justice or at least answers?
Paige was distraught by my decision. She became angry at my decision and fought with me. She tried to convince me with talks, tears, anger, and fight. And finally accepted that I am not going to change my decision.
“What are you going to do after going back?” She asked me.
I sighed and said. “I don’t know. At least I have my bachelor’s degree still. I may get a decent job.” I was silent for a moment. “Mom and Dad don’t know yet; I don’t know what I am going to say.”
Paige patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry. They will believe you.”
I looked up, looking at Paige’s face. “Do you believe me, Paige?” Words stuck in my throat.
Paige hugged me tight, “I believe you with my life.” I sobbed at her answers with non-stop tears.
After packing all my belongings, Paige offered me to drop them at my home, but I refused. As exams are nearing, she had to study. Already she was stressed with my situation, and I didn’t want to be a burden anymore.
“Hope you will get a good flatmate,” I told her with a smile.
“No one will be as good as Amy and you.” She replied.
With a sad smile, I stepped out with my luggage. I got out, turned to see the place once again. Out of my control, I looked to see the University buildings. Was it Jack standing at the entrance? I rubbed open my eyes to see the spot empty. I chastised myself for thinking about him again.