“The charges are serious, Lucas - aggravated assault, breaking and entering. You are lucky Mr Andrews is still alive. If you have anything to tell us that may help your case, now is the time to say.”
When I don’t respond, the Investigating Officer shrugs at my dad, the only parent in the room. My mum was too upset to attend.
Sensing my anxiety, my dad presses the police, “Shouldn’t we wait until council arrives?”
“Mr Stevenson, we aren’t trying to trick you into anything here. You’ve already admitted that you stabbed –“
“I don’t think stabbed is the right turn of phrase,” my dad scoffs.
“Lucas punctured the main artery in Mr Andrews’ neck. He could have died.”
The atmosphere fills with silence. No one is talking about the elephant in the room. The reason why I hurt Fred. How much admission of guilt do I want to display? With every word, I could be increasing my sentence. I glance at my dad, gleaning for moral support. He nods – just.
“As I said, Fred raped Sophia.”
Both officers remain sat, unfazed by my statement. The female, who has been fairly quiet so far, turns her posture to be more directly aligned with mine. Noticing how she has captured my attention; she takes over the conversation.
“Lucas, take us back, please. We need to know how this event took place. Without an account, the allegation means nothing.”
A sigh reverberates across my chest, and I consider my options. Do I tell the truth or a version of the truth that hides my own transgressions? Picking at my fleshy cuticles, my mind flashes to Sophia and our day out yesterday. Her arm. Her scar. I don’t want to cause her any more pain.
“I was worried about her, she seemed scared sometimes. Whenever I brought up Richmond, she’d just shut down, like the memory was too painful or something. So, I started watching over her.”
“Watching over how?”
“I made a copy of Sophia’s key.”
The room feels almost padded. Soundproof. In this small chamber, words settle with such clarity. My dad glares at me, astounded. Have I said too much?
“I know how that sounds, I really do, but I just knew something dodgy was going off in that house and then when I let myself in – I didn’t break in – I just opened the door as any regular person would, I just sat and watched her, looked through her things. You know, for clues.”
The words are falling from my lips like vomit. Spoken aloud, they sound ludicrous, even for my standards. The officer’s expression affirms as much. Changing tact, the male officer offers me some encouragement.
“Okay, so you are in Sophia’s room. Then what?”
“I hear Fred get up, he makes his way to her bedroom door, so I hide – under the bed. That’s when it happens. Fred comes in, doesn’t say a word. At first, I think he’s caught me but after a few seconds I hear him climb into Sophia’s bed and things start to happen.”
“What things, Lucas?”
“Do I really need to say?”
He nods his head and speaks categorically, “Yes, we need to know exactly what happened.”
“Sophia’s pyjamas come off and land on the floor next to me. Then…then…the mattress starts to move, and I can hear Fred… grunting,” I can hardly contain myself now, my voice breaks as I revisit the memory, “When he is finished, he leaves, and I hear Sophia crying.”
I tell them how I did nothing, said nothing, fearing Sophia’s reaction. They ask me about the next day and if Sophia ever told me outright what was going on. She never did. We discuss everything right up to the evening I let myself into Fred’s house. I explain how sinister he was, how threatening he came across. They probe further, unsatisfied with my account.
“What made you feel like your life was in danger? Did Mr Andrews have a weapon at all?”
“No, he didn’t, but he told me that he had sent Sophia and Janice away so that he wouldn’t be disturbed. The anger in his face - I read between the lines. I panicked.”
Nobody speaks for some time. My dad’s hand squeezes my leg comfortingly. Everything is out in the open now, and it is true what they say, I feel lighter for it. The female officer leans across the table with searching eyes. I think she might take my hands in hers and tell me how brave I was for sticking up for Sophia. How lucky it was that I discovered such horrific things were taking place.
“Lucas,” the tone she speaks, deftly serious, immediately worries me, “the problem is, we spoke with Sophia. She says that her father never hurt her - that the rape never happened.”
Everything in the room begins to spin, a vortex of colours and light. Underfoot, the floor turns to quicksand. I am falling, waiting for my body to smack the linoleum and orientate me back into reality. My father is speaking but it sounds muffled like he is underwater. Tremors radiate across my core as I close my eyes and try to steady myself. Slowly, the tilt of my vision realigns, and my senses attune themselves once more.
Now cemented on my chair, I announce to the room calmly, “I won’t answer any more of your questions without my lawyer present.”