Part 1: Taking the Stand
"Mrs. Hartley, could you please tell us of the events that took place on Wednesday, October eighth, nineteen seventy five?" Mr. Albert asked.
Mr. Albert, a middle aged man, slowly paced the floor. His stature tall and confident, dark hair getting ready to gray. The way that he looked, he presented himself as this Kennedy-type persona. A man out to fix everything wrong in the world.
Emily sighed as she looked up from her spot on the stand. She wasn't scared, she wasn't nervous, but she had been let down and betrayed. The man who hurt her was not too far from her, and she couldn't help but feel cold and distant with his presence.
Looking out, she saw Bob offering her a vote of confidence. A subtle smile touched her lips, just enough to thank him with out having to say anything. He was sitting in the first row behind the prosecutor's table, along with Howard, Ellen, Jerry, and Carol. There were other teachers that she had worked with also there scattered out in the crowd.
Her eyes wandered from her husband over to her attorney. "The school's new principal, Mr. Steward, had decided to go from room to room and meet the teachers on their lunch breaks," she started explaining.
Emily sat at her desk as she looked at the papers that the kids had just handed in before they headed to lunch. They each had to write about their families. Most of the papers caused her to laugh, talking about how their siblings annoyed them and how they idolized certain members. Teaching the third grade was certainly never boring.
"Mrs. Hartley?" Mr. Steward called out from the doorway.
Emily looked up and smiled to him. He was an older man, slightly balding. His cheeks red. A medium built man. "Mr. Steward?" she questioned as she stood up and went to shake his hand.
"Yes," he curtly answered, sounding as if he were truly in a hurry. This was something that bothered Emily right away, but she wasn't about to be picky with the new boss.
"I was just going around and introducing myself. I figure that its more my responsibility than it is your's, so I thought this was better than just calling everyone down to my office," he explained, a fake smile plastered on his face.
"Well it's certainly easier on us," Emily stated, crossing her arms on her chest. She smiled back to him in the same fake manor. Anything to make this go as quick and smoothly as possible.
Mr. Steward turned and looked back to see that the hall behind him was clear and then continued smiling to Emily. His smile, she noted, became more genuine after he checked his surroundings. As she thought back on this, she realized, and mentally kicked herself, for not picking up on this right away that it was a warning sign. That was the moment that she should have made up an excuse to get out of there.
"You know Mrs. Hartley, I will be needing a new Vice Principal, and as you know, the job pays well. A lot better than this teaching job you have," he explained.
Emily looked down and nodded. Looking back up, she saw the same smile, only this time, it was even more creepy to her. Again, something that should have registered.
"I am aware of that," she assured him. As his smile became more real and devious, her's became more and more fake, hiding the fact that she was starting to get nervous and fidgety.
"You know that you could have it right away if you wanted it," he offered, taking a few steps towards her.
"I don't think so," she firmly stated as she stepped back, attempting to keep the distance. She was trying her hardest now to hold onto the smile. The last thing she wanted to do now was give away just how uncomfortable she was at the moment. She felt that he would more easily take advantage if he saw it.
"Now," he started, grabbing at her hand only to have her immediately pull it back away out of his grip. He ignored the action though and continued. "You say no now, but I am sure that you will change your mind," he assured her, taking another step closer.
Emily backed into her desk, but still maintained her composure. "Now Mr. Steward, I understand that you are my boss, but that does not give you the right to," she started to sternly warn him, but was cut of when he quickly grabbed her and pulled her in for a kiss.
Emily fought her way out of his arms and stood back, staring to him with shock, despising his very presence. Instead of saying anything at all, she slapped him across the face as hard as she possibly could.
"And then I told him to get out of my room," Emily answered, keeping her eyes on Mr. Albert.
Mr. Albert nodded and then lowered his head. "Did he make any more advances at you after this incident?" he questioned, picking his head back up and looking directly to her.
"What did happen after you told him to leave?" he implored.
"He fired me. He told me that I would finish that day and then I was out of there," she replied, remaining stoic.
She sat there, watching as Mr. Albert turned to the jury and started feeding them this damsel in distress routine. Really, she hated feeling like she was helpless and it wasn't exactly like she needed someone to come in and save her. There was no way that she could speak up and say anything though, she told them what happened, and he was over there doing his job.
Faintly, she sighed and looked down to her lap. All she wanted was to get out of there. Everything about this whole case angered her, but at the same time, embarrassed her. In her mind, the more that she thought about it, she was here simply because a man thought that she was weak enough to do whatever he wanted to her, and she would just give in, just like that. It sickened her.
Another reason this all bothered her, was because this could ruin her chances of getting another teaching job. Looking down and seeing that she was fired because she refused to obey her boss, was not the best thing that could be written on her file.
Teaching was something that she loved to do, she liked being in education, and working with kids. She did not, and could not, have kids of her own. She knew that she wanted to work with children when she was in her teens, and found out that she would have a hard time ever getting pregnant. It wasn't impossible, but very unlikely.
When she was seventeen, there were a few cysts that she had removed from her uterus that were giving her some trouble. During the operation, there was some tissue damage, that at the time, she didn't really think was that huge of a deal. Before hand, she hand't even thought about having kids.
Like most people though, when you are told that you can't have something, you start wanting it. Of course, now, she was pretty happy without them. That didn't mean that she didn't want at least one any more, but as she got older, she realized that there was a lot of other things in life that made her feel useful, needed, and fulfilled. Besides, there were a lot of times that she felt like she was playing mother to Howard.
Sometimes, Howard could get a little annoying, but really, she enjoyed it.
"Mrs. Hartley?" the defense attorney, Mr. Woods, called to her, tearing her out of her deep thoughts and back to reality.
Emily slightly jumped as she looked up to him. "I'm sorry, could you please repeat the question?"
Mr. Woods sighed. He was definitely a few years older than Mr. Albert. His thinning hair completely white, the wrinkles that were starting to form around his piercing eyes. "Did Mr. Steward attack you at any time?" he implored.
"Yes, when he grabbed me and kissed me," she answered, thinking that that was a stupid question to even be asking.
"Let me rephrase the question," he stated, folding his hands behind his back and slowly pacing towards the jury. "Did Mr. Steward ever, at any time, physically harm you, attempt to remove any clothing or pin you down?" he asked.
"He grabbed onto me," Emily replied.
"Answer the question," he insisted.
"Grabbing me and holding me there is just like pinning me down," she firmly argued.
He stopped and looked to her. "But you said that you were able to get out of his hold, so obviously, he wasn't holding onto you that hard," he reasoned.
Emily glared to him. "But he still…!" she started to argued, but was cut off.
"Please! Just stick to answering the questions," Mr. Woods requested.
"Now, at anytime, did you tell him no?" he inquired.
"No! But he shouldn't have…!" she angrily started, but was again cut off by Mr. Woods.
"That's not the point Mrs. Hartley! You never told him not too. He kissed you and you slapped him. A kiss is no big deal, people kiss just to say hi to each other. You were fired because you slapped him! Not because you turned down any sexual advances," he explained.
Emily coldly stared to him, wanting to lean over and punch this man in the face. Instead of acting out though, she slightly turned and looked up to the judge. "Your honor? May I please say something?" she politely requested.
"Go ahead," he responded.
Emily expressionlessly looked Mr. Woods straight in the eyes. "I slapped him because I was hurt, I was scared, and I was mad. We are all adults here, and most of us could figure out what could have happened if I hadn't fought my way out of his grip. He crossed a very sensitive border and I wasn't even able to think straight anymore. Really, he is lucky that I only slapped him," she curtly informed him.
Mr. Woods stood there and stared at her. "Very well," he replied and then looked up to the judge. "I have no more questions your honor."
"Very well, you may step down Mrs. Hartley," he announced.
Emily got down off the bench and went to sit down at the table next to her lawyer. After she sat down, she felt a hand gently grab her shoulder. When she turned back, she saw Bob pull his hand back and nod to her. She smiled to him and then turned back to face forward.