Sunday, March 09, 2014

Blessings in the storm

It was just another night. Liza dropped her book bag on the floor and got a cup of water from the fridge. Humid, hot, still night. No wind at all. "Why does this place has to be so lame?", she thought.  Having no explanation for her apartment being the only one in the area that didn't have air conditioner, she grumbled and reproached herself for not getting one before Summer hit.
She went around the apartment opening the windows to see if some breeze would come her way and maybe cool her off a little… It wasn't enough that her boyfriend couldn't give her a ride home tonight, she had to walk all the way up with her sandal strap broken.
Then she caught herself complaining and remembered to thank God for the things she had: a roof over her head, sandals on her feet and clean cold water for a shower when she got home.
So different from the kids she had just saw on that promo video from the mission trip to Afrika. "What was the name of the country?? Mmmm." She would have to ask the Campus leader next Bible study.
And maybe if she scrapped some of her savings, sent out a couple sponsoring letters and asked her parents for a little help, she would be able to finish her semester without debts and go to the mission trip with her boyfriend and college friends.
She always thought it a privilege to attend a christian college. It wasn't big, but she had the opportunity to get to know people, to serve together as a body and to witness God's doing in her friends' daily life.
With those thoughts she headed to her room. As she undressed for a shower, she heard a noise in the living room.  Her townhouse apartment had one of those rooms that could barely fit a couch and a TV, and with her desk and computer by the window, it looked crowded.
She wrapped herself in a towel and walked to see if something had fell. Looking around and finding nothing amiss, she went back just to be surprised with a calloused hand over her face and a stinging cold on her back.
"Who is here? What is… Oh my God, help me!" was all she could think before the unthinkable took place. As she cried, fought and desperately pleaded for help, her body was pierced and broken by someone who's thought was to obtain self pleasure from inflicting pain. That man with no face would become the one she would have to face for ever in her nightmares.
She had never dreamed such thing would happen to her. As she struggled to get free from his hands, realizing it was impossible, with her heart torn into pieces she asked God to alleviate her pain. The world went blank.

Waking up was the hardest thing she'd ever done in her life. The pain that stretched through her body was excruciating. She had no clue what time it was, but by the light coming through the window it had to be morning. Afraid he was still around, she barely moved till no sounds proved she was alone. What would she do? Who could she call? The police wouldn't be able to find him and she couldn't help identify him, since the darkness of the night and the mask over his face made it impossible for her to recognize him. Still, she should go there, right?
Dread of her friends reaction if she called one of them and unable to look down at herself, she dragged her body to her bag by the door and searched till find her cellphone.
She dialed 911 and as the woman on the other side asked her what happened, she couldn't get herself to utter a single word about the night before. Exhausted of thinking and crying she heard someone asking for help without even realizing it was her own voice before slipping into a peaceful place of nothing.

The cops found her laying on the floor, towel awkwardly covering half her bloody body. Following the  trail left by it they discovered marks on the floor, couch and wall that spoken of a lost fight. Gently taking her to the ambulance, dragging her bag alongside, they had a fraction of minute to pity the girl before tackling the job, that by the look of it, wouldn't render much.

Liza awoke to the frenzied noise of the hospital. Her room door was ajar and there was people coming in and out. She recognized a cop and a nurse by their outfits, but had no clue of what was going on. The doctor, so it seems like, was asking her questions, but her mind kept drifting off to sleep. Every time she woke up those people were there, till in one of them, there was only a woman by her side.

The woman asked if she wanted water. She hadn't realized her thirsty till that moment and nodded accepting it. After bringing a cup with a straw for her, the woman remained at her side without saying a word. It seemed like hours and looking by the window, she knew it had to be, 'cause it was dark outside. Without looking in her eyes, she finally found voice to ask: _ "What happened to me? What am I doing here?"
The woman answered: _"I'm Winona and I work here at the hospital. I wish we had met under better circumstances, but I hope you will forgive my presence. I would like to know what you remember from last night, if you want to talk about it."
She haven't thought about the night before. Her pain was so unbearable she couldn't think of anything besides breathing in and out slowly as she had overheard the nurse say to another patient.
The memories came scrambled and as thought it had happened in another life. She remembered everything step by step till the moment she found herself in the man's hands. Then all her memories faded away life she wasn't there at all. But her body told her something happened. Her pain was so hard you could touch it and fear was like a companion that never left her side.
Suddenly tears fell like a waterfall as she tried looking at Winona. That was the moment Liza realize life would never be the same again while knowing it would take a long time for her to feel something again. All she wanted was to become numb forever - that life would just leave her in her next sleep, that she wouldn't have to go with it, that she wouldn't have to face… OMG how would she face people?
Having tears as her best friend she nursed herself away.

Her first thought the next day was Winona. For some reason that woman brought her comfort. But that was not the face she saw when she opened her eyes. Her boyfriend Ron and her best friend Tori were there as well as Judy, her dorm counselor. Why the nurses had let them in? Struggling to hold herself together she tried to look at people without having a clue about what to say.
Tori asked how she was, then realizing how rhetorical is was, she apologize and said she was sorry. But she was sorry for her friend also, cause were places reverted, she wouldn't know what to say either.
Her boyfriend seemed afraid to touch her… and she wasn't even sure she wanted him to, but extended her hand to him like an assurance. She barely felt the tip of his fingers on her hand. Was he afraid of hurting her or disgusted at her? She took her hand back in a jolt and Ron withdrew his hand on that moment. It was the moment she thought about losing him… and without any strength to go further, she asked for Winona.
After everybody left the room, with her Judy promising to come back pick her up whenever she was ready, Winona came in and asked if she needed something. _ "Would you mind keeping me company?"
Winona seemed to be the only person she could deal with at that moment. Then Winona decided it was the moment to face the doctor and nurse, since they would let her go by the end of the day. She'd been there for a whole day already and since people had come for her she was able to go home accompanied.
The doctor came and asked her a couple questions she couldn't answer - she didn't know the answer. Those were the same questions she heard an hour later when the cops showed up. All she knew was the guy was fast, taller than her and bulky like a quarterback, and she remember looking at her kitchen clock at 9:15pm. They would have to work with that.
The nurse told her they had given her morning-after pill, but didn't know how accurately it would work since she had been found well after the first twelve hours and that, in case something had happened, she could come back to do a "cleaning procedure", to make sure no remaining of the man would stay with her.
As she listened, two things came to her mind: first, she hadn't thought of the possibility of a baby! And now they were talking about abortion as the baby that she might be carrying was just tissue. Second, NOTHING absolutely nothing would be able to clean her from that man. She knew he would always have a piece of her time, pain and fear attached to him. So he would always be a piece of her - if only in her memories. Feeling her anger and pain, the doctor and nurse left the room with no more words and she asked Winona what would she do.
Winona told her she had some options: she could call her family and ask them to come or she could call a friend. Liza already knew her apartment wasn't an option and felt better for Winona not suggesting it. She didn't thing possible for her to call her parents under such circumstances - she couldn't face her mom and dad's faces of pity and who knows what else. She barely could face her boyfriend and best friend the past day and she knew it would come sooner than later.
Trying to not postpone it longer, she asked if her best friend would let her crash at her condo. Tori seemed worried about her enough to let her stay and having a second bedroom in her place, it would give Liza privacy as much as company. Also, the fact she lived in a closed complex with around-the-clock security provided Liza some of the safety she thought needed.

At 6pm sharp, Tori showed up with a bag of clothes that Liza was sure she had taken from her apartment and a sad smile as to say "I'm glad you are coming but I hate the reason". As Tori drove her away from the hospital, all Liza could do was look out of the window. And when she entered her friend's house, she remembered she didn't even ask Winona why she was there every time she needed, and how could she reach her. When she looked backed, Winona had left. Her friend asked her what happened and when she whispered "Winona", her friend handed her a paper with a name and a phone number. Winona had thought ahead. God bless her soul.

The next days Winona would prove how much a blessing from God she was and how deep God's love for Liza went. She didn't know how much she would need this remind and how much she would hate it.

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