They came for me in the late summer of 2011.

Nothing had prepared me for their arrival. I had no idea that they were investigating me. What was a reporter compared to the editor in chief or the owner of News of the World? They had bigger fish to fry I had imagined. Wrong.

They had been on my trail for a year or so. I did not know which of my informants had betrayed me, or why. It was a stupid thing to wonder about, but I could not help asking myself whether I had unintentionally caused for this to happen, or whether they’d sold me out to save their own skin. It mattered. I don’t know why.

This is the story of that moment. One moment that changed the course of my life.

You will have to bear with me. Too much has happened since, and although it all leads back to that point in time, there is so much still lost in the haze.  My recollections, for a time, were not my own. They were nothing at all, but the beginning of a journey through the judicial system and the underworld. The details are much the same, although the narrative has taken some time to crisp up and take shape. I have told no one about this, and anything that I did tell has been recounted on the witness stand under the grilling stare of a court prosecutor.

I cannot change the past. But the past… The past and its memories have kept me in continued flux. I no longer know who I am.

10:30pm. A chilly Monday night. That morning we had returned from a weekend in Devon. We had been working long hours for months – Russell in the city, me scuppering across the country for the latest story – and he demanded we spend some quality time together. He always got what he asked for. Independent woman or not, I let him believe that he was the one calling the shots in that relationship since the very start. I did not mind playing the junior partner in the arrangement: chose my battles with care, got the ring. To think only, that there was a time when it mattered. I long for those times.

The first warning that something had gone wrong was loud banging on his apartment door. I didn’t hear it at first. Exhausted after a weekend of trekking through Exmoor and then a long day of catching up at the paper, I went to bed at 9pm and was gone to the world. My fiancé, or ex fiancé I should say, did hear it. He’d stayed up to go through some paperwork and when the banging began, rather than going to check what the matter was himself, elbowed me hard in the ribs and in an instant I was awake. Coward. That right there was the last of many indications that he was not exactly the knight in shining armour he believed himself to be.

I sprang to my feet and hurriedly drew a nightgown over my head then went to answer the door. Question after question milled through my sleep-deprived brain.

Was it someone from the paper? No. That made no sense. There was no big story on the roll, nothing important enough to bring anyone to my door at that hour.

Did my mother die? I had not seen her in nearly a decade, but surely a phone call would’ve been sufficient.

Did some madman escape from some nearby asylum I was unaware of? I considered nipping into the kitchen for a knife. If I were to greet a potential killer, then surely I should try and level the odds. That couldn’t be it. This wasn’t Whitechapel.

Could it be the postman? I considered getting that knife in any case. He deserved all that was coming to him for getting me out of bed, express delivery or not.

In the end I decided that most likely a neighbour had forgotten their key, or someone else’s late night caller, drunk, got the wrong apartment. I was so sure of it that I was tempted to ignore it and go back to bed. Let Russell deal with it if he minds the banging that much.

There was a man in uniform coiled behind a buttery light. It blinded me. All else was darkness. Panic took over. Something shifted uncomfortably inside.

“Is this Jane Shift’s residence?”

For a moment I still waivered under the delusion that he got the wrong address. He got my first name right, but not the last. Did he mispronounce it, or was it all a mistake?

“No. There are no Shifts here.” I tried to keep my voice level, although that tremor… Perhaps they will attribute it to the cold.

“And your name is?”

I did not answer immediately, thinking fast on my feet. Could I lie? I dreaded what might happen if I did. No. I had to tell him.

“Swift. Jane Swift.”

“I have a warrant for your arrest. May I come in?”

35 thoughts on “Cuffed

    • So pleased! I do not know whether this fragment will make it into the final novel. This is the first instalment of the chapter. I thought I’d better cut it up in several parts to make it easier to digest in the context of a blog. The next will follow tomorrow – I hope. Thank you for the encouraging words. Very much appreciated 🙂

    • That is more than I could have hoped for. Thank you so much for such warm words of praise, JMC.
      It is certainly a boost, and I am now energised to get on with the next part of the story. 🙂

    • Thank you, Scarlet. I’ve never liked long-winded introductions and consequently have sought to avoid them at all cost in my own writing.
      I am glad that you approve of the choice. It can be somewhat daunting to keep detail to a minimum whilst at the same time trying to pull the reader into the story and give them a sense of an actual scene unfolding.
      Your feedback reassures me that I have just about managed it with this one. 🙂

      • I’ve had a crack at fiction but I don’t think its me, I ramble and waffle, and I like literature and writers enough not to damage the art 🙂
        You really have, this is a lovely work, you should be proud, I find with blogs often people just praise you so you will go and praise them back, this isn’t one of those instances, well done.

      • You call it “ramble and waffle”, but it may be that you are a stream of consciousness writer 🙂 You know, Virginia Woolf style. It reminded me of my attempt to keep a journal as a teen. That’s how I started writing fiction on a regular basis lol Initially, I was trying to narrate the events of the day, and then decided it was too boring and started inventing stories instead. My mother got quite a shock when she sneaked a peek.
        I was going to publish a few more fragments in continuation to “Cuffed” – but they require some more revision, mainly cutting the boring things out and keeping the narrative tight. So it may be a while before I blog the next instalment of it.
        And thank you for the words of encouragement, Scarlet. It means a lot.

      • It seems my kind of ramble is interesting to some people so I am very glad for that, but your kind of writing is more what I admire, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. My original blog was meant to be a journal, and even now it has a lot of that in it, but more memories.
        You are very engaging, you write with your heart, I can redly relate to the person in your story, its lovely.
        So are you, you’re welcome, keep up the good work.

      • I love your journal-writing style. It is not an easy thing to do, but I think you have found your voice and that comes across in the way you share your memories.
        Will try to keep it up – all part of the journey. Thank you for coming along. It is always better in company 🙂

    • I am moved by your admission. Having never experienced this myself, it is certainly reassuring that it rings true to those who have. Although, I am sorry if this reading this post has made you melancholy. I hope that you are well. Have you shared your story on your blog? I would very much like to read your narrative of events if that is the case.
      Thank you for your comment.
      Warm regards,

      • On the contrary,you made me grateful I don’t live that way anymore. And even more so that those days have long passed. Perhaps those stories will find a voice some day

      • When they do, you can count me amongst those who will visit and read them.
        I am not always sure whether “what does not kill you makes you stronger,” but I do tend to believe that there is no such thing as failure in life – as long as we have learnt from our mistakes or choices, then they become experience. Too optimistic perhaps? I can’t help it.

  1. Very interesting read. You’re libel & slander laws are quite interesting, haha. Is that where it might go? Or something even worse?

    • How wonderful, Kavalkade – very pleased you liked it. Are you familiar with what happened in the UK a couple of years ago with News of the World? There were a lot of scandals that broke out about press misdemeanours, including phone hacking, and it led to the closure of one of the biggest Murdoch newspapers in the UK. Many are still being prosecuted so this is an on-going case. I won’t reveal just yet where Jane Swift’s story fits into this detail-wise, but that is the context 🙂
      Does this help?

      • Yes. Haha. I knew the name, just wasn’t sure how close to life your story would be.

      • As close as I can get it. I’ve been scrolling through archives to gather as much material on this as I can possibly get my hands on at this stage. It is always a stylised version of reality, but I do not want to stray too far 🙂

    • Is there more? This is what every writer hopes to hear from their readers.
      There is certainly more, Marcus. This is a fragment from my first completed novel (working title) Finding Jane.
      I am in the process of revising it, and have already fully edited and amended 33 chapters which comprise about 2/3rds of the book.
      Not that long to go before I can put it in front of an agent or publisher, but I want to have it fully revised before I do so.
      I will share a little more of the story with you, but for the rest… we’ll see if it can be published via the traditional channels. Alternatively, e-publishing would be an option. Will let you know.
      Thank you for your comment. Very encouraging 🙂

    • Thank you, Chris. I am glad that you picked up on the underlying tension in this scene.
      The main part of the revision process has been about eliminating any scene that was conflict or tension-free, or – if it was possible to insert some tension – amend them accordingly.
      Your comment has reinforced my commitment to continue to do this in all the chapters that still await revision. Very helpful. Thank you.

      • I’m glad that my comment has been helpful in some way. I hope too that my use of the word ‘gentle’ didn’t offend (on reflection I thought it might has come across as derogatory). I meant it as a compliment in as much as the style you used was conversational not confrontational.
        Take care, Chris.

      • It was helpful, thank you. Ha! I didn’t think gentle to be a negative – I assumed it referred to the voice of the narrator, but thank you for the clarification. Once again – very helpful feedback.
        Best regards,

  2. Pingback: November’s Darlings | vic briggs

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