It was a cool April morning in Palo Alto, California when 23-year-old Dana Scully hurried up the courthouse steps, her heels clicking against the concrete like seconds ticking on a clock. She had five minutes before she had to meet with the prosecutor, and “late” was not in her vocabulary. Briskly walking past the different people, she briefly questioned their presence. Smoothing down her smart and sensible navy-blue blazer, her hand paused as it met her small, but somewhat noticeable, pregnancy bump. Her hand left almost immediately, and she focused on the task at hand. The prosecutor was waiting for her when she arrived, and led her to the witness room and gave her instructions.
“Now, I know you’ve been told this many times before, but just as a reminder: you’re what’s called a ‘character witness’, so you’ll only be called to testify if necessary,” the prosecutor reminded. “I know it’s not what you imagined you’d be doing today, but you may be needed. And both the judge and defense know of your condition, so the defense knows to tread lightly when it comes time for their questions. However, I fear they won’t, so I’ll remind them to go easy on you.”
“It’s alright. You’ve prepared me should I need to go up there and testify. I can do this. I just hope that you’re able to put him away.”
The woman put her hand gently on Dana’s arm. “I promise I’ll do all I can.” She looked at her watch and told Dana she needed to go.
“There’s water available and outlets if you need to charge your phone. I’m sorry I can’t do much else.”
The prosecutor walked off and Dana took in her surroundings. There was a table with an older-looking coffee machine and a pack of water bottles. While the room was small, there was room to fit another table with a chair and a loveseat in the corner. She lowered herself onto the loveseat and shifted so she was on her back, feet dangling off one of the armrests.
It had been a couple of hours she had waited but it felt like three times as long. She mostly texted either her mother, father, or sister, letting them know how she was and just needing someone to talk to. If she wasn’t glued to her phone, she paced. And paced. At some point she looked out the window unto the pedestrians below and wished she could take any one of their places right now. Today was an emotionally wrecking day, and it helped that she had most of her family nearby.
Around noon, she was called to testify. Dana Scully, Part 25. Her heart sank to her feet. Anxiety and doubt started to intrude her thoughts. She honestly didn’t know if she could do this. How many people can say they had to testify against their ex-husband? Okay, probably many, but this case was unique. These thoughts were enough to busy her mind until she found herself with her right hand on the Bible promising ‘to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. She sat down and tried her hardest not to look to where she knew he was staring holes into her.
The prosecutor stood up and started to ask questions.
“Can you state your full name for the record?” The prosecutor sounded professional in tone.
“Dana Katherine Scully,” Dana answered.
“And what is your relationship to the defendant, Ms. Scully?”
“I’m his ex-wife.”
She continued to ask the basic questions. When were you married? When did you separate? Divorce? Do you have any children? How many? What are their names? When were they born? Are you employed? Are you in school? For what? Where? How long have you been attending? The questions seemed to go on and on. Until they got to the question she wished she didn’t have to answer.
“Ms. Scully, do you know why you have been asked to appear in court today?”
“Um, my ex-husband has been charged with…” God, she couldn’t even say it. Be strong, Dana. “…sexual assault.” She refused to look at him, but she knew he was wearing one of his notorious smirks.
“Has your husband ever assaulted you , Ms. Scully?”
“Objection, your Honor. We are only in court for the case of Hannah Carson, not the alleged assault for Mr. Lake’s ex-wife.” The defense attorney finally spoke, his voice low and with a ‘no-nonsense’ tone to it.
“Withdrawn. Ms. Scully, to what degree do you know Miss Carson?”
Dana’s heart was speeding up and her hands felt clammy. Just breathe, Dana. “I don’t know her.”
“Let the record state that Ms. Scully does not know the victim. Now, I’d like to start asking about your relationship with the defendant over time.”
Oh, God. She knew what was coming. Soon she’d be asked about what it was like being with him, and no doubt they’d eventually get to her...it was still hard to think about it, and she lived it. She was prepared to answer the questions, but she wasn’t prepared for the emotional state she was sure to be in after this. Why couldn’t they just have accepted her written testimony? But no , she just had to do this in front of however many people. She had a death grip on her knees and prayed for the universe to open up and swallow her whole right about now.
“When did you two meet?”
Okay, here goes nothing. “Um, I was fourteen.”
“Can you tell us about the day you met the defendant?”
“Danes, are you kidding?! You’re telling me you turned down Jack Willis for the homecoming dance? Are you okay?” Melissa teased, her mouth full of Blizzard.
“I’m just not interested in going with anyone. Besides, I’m only going because if I don’t, you’re just going to drag me.”
Melissa chuckled and ate a fry from her plate. “You know me so well, oh dear sister of mine,” she joked. “It’s your freshman year, and you got asked to the homecoming dance by a senior. Do you know how many girls wish they were you?”
Dana only shrugged. “I don’t know what to say. I’m just not interested. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to refill my drink.”
She got up and walked over to the drink machine. Opting for water, she quickly refilled her cup and was about to walk back to the booth she and Melissa were seated at before she ran into a tall person, spilling her water all over them.
“Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry!” she exclaimed as she grabbed the nearest napkins and handed some to them, and the rest to clean the floor. The person kneeled and helped her.
She looked up and was face to face with a boy. He looked familiar, but she couldn’t pinpoint from where.
“I really am sorry again.”
“It’s okay, I promise.” He smiled, and Dana could feel her cheeks flush. He was so handsome. “Hey, you go to Hoover, right? I’ve seen you around school a few times.”
“Yeah, I just started in August.”
“That’s cool. I’m a junior. You going to the game tonight?”
“Yeah, I’m going with my sister.”
“I’m going with a few of my buddies, so I guess I’ll see you there. Or ‘run into,’ I should say,” he joked and winked at her, causing her cheeks to flush again. “I’m just kidding.”
They finished wiping up the spilled water and after he threw away the wet napkins, he held out his hand and she took it.
“So, what’s your name?” he asked, not letting go.
He shook her hand. “Well, Dana, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Hunter. I’ll see you around.”
He walked out the door and Dana looked at her sister, who sat there open-mouthed, apparently having had watched the whole interaction. Great, she thought. I’ll never hear the end of this.