As it got closer to the trial, it got harder and harder for Julia to hide the fact that she had been raped from Keira. Keira was naturally curious as to why Julia had to go see a lawyer, take medication and why she was getting ready for court. Julia wanted to tell her, but she was afraid that if she did, Keira would be afraid of the world, afraid to live her life to the fullest. And Julia didn’t want that, she wanted her to live a happy normal life. Knowing that her sister was raped would change Keira’s life in so many ways.
Julia used to share everything with Keira, they were best friends. It was killing Julia to keep this from her sister. Keira knew that Julia was hiding something; they didn't have their midnight chats over ice cream anymore, Julia no longer participated in family talks at dinner and she avoided Keira as much as she could. It was tearing them both up inside. It was almost as bad as the guilt...almost. Keira thought Julia didn't love her anymore, and Julia knew it. But if that was the only way to protect her little sister, Julia would let her believe it. She had to.
With the trial progressing things at school got worse. Julia and Rick now went off campus for lunch to escape the nasty looks and angry words. And when Julia couldn’t be with Rick, she hid in a corner of the library where nobody could find her. Kids at their school were cruel and Julia was reminded of that fact every time she went to her locker. Someone had written the words slut, whore and liar on her locker with a permanent marker. Covering it, and each word was like a punch in the gut. A stab in the back. A smack in the face. The principle didn’t do anything about it, he said that he couldn't because there was no proof as to who had done it. But Julia knew it was because he, like everyone else in the school, adored Justin and thought Julia was lying.
When Julia and Rick weren’t dealing with the hatred at school they were dealing with it at home. Kids from school and people in town had taken to sending them hate mail, calling their house and leaving nasty messages on the machine at all hours, day or night. It was bad enough that they had to go through the abuse at school, but at home? Home used to be their sanctuary, their safe haven. But now, it was just as bad as school. With the phone calls and letters, it was nearly impossible to keep Keira in the dark. But she did it, Julia would do anything she could to protect her. She knew she couldn’t keep Keira from the truth forever, but she knwe that she had to try. Atleast until Keira was married and had a happy life.
The trial was to begin in a month and Julia was terrified. The courts had ordered Justin to take a test to see if he also had HIV, when the test came back positive Justin told the courts that Julia must have given it to him when they had “consensual sex” at the party. Consensual, that’s what he called it. Julia was worried that the jury would believe him, that Justin would be let go. She didn’t know what she would do if that were to happen. Things at school and home were already difficult; she couldn’t even walk down the halls without being called a dirty name, could she handle the abuse if it got worse? Could she handle seeing Him every day?
Julia knew it wouldn’t be easy to live like this. She'd known that all along. And things had gotten worse and worse...more horrible than she had imagined. But as long as Rick was there to hold her hand and help her through it all, it wasn’t impossible. And Rick would be there, he would do anything she asked. He would give his own life for her. He often wished that he could take her pain away, that it was himself suffering from this awful disease instead of her. In a sense, the HIV was killing them both. Julia didn’t like to hear Rick talk like that, it only added to the guilt that had already chewed her raw and bleeding. For the past few weeks, they had been arguing about their relationship.
"I love you," Rick had whispered in Julia's ear.
"I love you too, I wish I could give you more," Julia had replied.
"You've given me enough, Julia," Rick said, confused. "What else is there for me to have?"
"Children? I healthy girlfriend? A healthy wife? Someone who isn't ruining your life?"
"You're not ruining my life!" Rick had become furious. "All I want is you! I don't need anything else!" he yelled.
"Rick," Julia whispered, "go."
"No! I'm not leaving!" he yelled again.
“Just go Rick!” Julia yelled. “You deserve to be happy!”
“I am happy! When are you going to see that as long as I’m with you I am happy?”
“Find someone else, find someone you can grow old with, have a family with and be truly happy with. Instead of wasting time with me. On me.”
“I already am with that person, and I have been for a long time. And I will be forever!” He exclaimed.
Julia never wanted to see Rick go. She wanted to keep him here by her side. But she needed him to be happy. So, with tears in her eyes, she told him to do what she never wanted him to do. Her voice came down to a broken whisper. “You’re throwing your life away by being with me. Just walk away while you have the chance.”
“I will only go if you look me in the eye and tell me that you don’t love me anymore," Rick said.
“I can’t do that, but no matter how much I love you or how much it will hurt to see you walk away, I can’t just sit back and watch you throw away everything for me.”
“I’m not throwing anything away,” Rick told her as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to his chest, “But if I walk away, I will be.”
But the guilt still ate at Julia like a lion. No, must be wild dogs, lions would devour you quickly. This guilt ate at her slowly, painfully. Letting her feel every rip and tear. Every pinch of the skin. Every pulse of blood that left her body as she was bleeding. The fact that Julia would never be able to give him the family that he longed for and he deserved would torment her forever.