“and so, in conclusion, I would like for all of you to consider taking this free course. It may save your life one day, for which I’m sure, your parents would be grateful” Edna said, concluding her presentation to the youth group girls. There were twenty three young women in the room with Edna, Wanda and Rev. Spears, that were listening with interest to what Edna had been saying. “Does anyone have any questions?” asked Wanda.
“How long is the class?” asked one. “Two evenings, about three hours each.” Replied Edna.
“Do we need to buy special clothing for this? Like we do at school for Phys. Ed.?” Asked another.
“No, not at all. Jeans, t-shirt and sneakers will do the trick.” Said Wanda “but I would not wear really tight jeans or shirts, you will be moving around a lot and they might restrict your movements somewhat.”
“Are there going to be any guys there?” came the next question. “No, except for Brad, one of the instructors. As we mentioned earlier, we are going to try our best to keep these moves a secret from men. This will weigh the odds in your favor a little more if you are ever in a confrontation, since he will not know what you are capable of when he starts.” Answered Wanda. “But he will when you finish with him.” Quipped Edna. The girls giggled at that remark.
“Do we have to get out parents’ permission to do this?” was asked by a girl in the back of the room leaning almost disinterestedly against the back wall. “Yes, since there is a possibility of injury, a very small possibility to be sure, but there is a chance, we would want their consent for you to participate.” Said Edna.
The question and answer period went on for about another half an hour before it seemed that they were all up to speed. Of those twenty three young women, seventeen of them seemed genuinely interested in taking the course. The rest pretty much dismissed it as not something they wanted to do. Edna and Wanda had a sign up sheet located at the front of the room for all interested parties to place their names and phone numbers on, and they also had some basic permission forms available for the ladies to take home to their parents. As they were picking up the forms and signing up Edna reminded them that this was a ‘Women’s Only’ activity, “So please do not share anything that we have discussed here tonight with any males that you know. Of course you may speak of this with your fathers but do not give them any specifics.” “Thank you all for coming and for listening so patiently. We hope to see you there on the first day of class. Good night, be safe.” Edna said to the girls as they were leaving.
As soon as the door closed behind the last one, Edna and Wanda laughed out loud. “It looks like you ladies might have had a bit of a success today.” Commented Rev. Spears. “Oh yeah!” said Edna “I cannot believe they were so receptive.” “All I can say is that I am glad THAT is over.” Said Wanda with a great big exaggerated sigh. “I am not big on public speaking ya know.” This caused them to laugh again because she sounded so woebegone.
“Let me get this straight” Brad said “You managed to sign up seventeen girls on the very first night?” “Yep” beamed Wanda “there were only six who were not interested at all.” Turning to Amy and Jennie, Brad asked “Do you think we can handle a group that large?” “Of course we can!” Exclaimed Jennie and Amy said “My only concern is lack of equipment.” Brad said “With a group that large we are going to have a bit of difficulty giving them each individual attention.” “Maybe after the general instructions we can break the group up so that we each have a few to work with, and rotate so that they get to learn from all three of us in the end.” Suggested Amy. “We need to set a date for the first class and then figure out what to do to keep them safe. We have, what, 6 sets of sparring equipment?” asked Jennie “If we split them up into three groups, then all the students in one group will have equipment and the other two groups can watch. Or continue practicing until it’s their turn.” “That sounds good. Three groups – five in one and six in the other two. Sparring with one group at a time, and the rest practice. The first night is going to be mostly talking and learning to stretch and basic moves. The second night should be a recap of the moves and then practice for a while, then a chance to spar. How long do you think the practice and sparring sessions should be?” said Brad. “I’m not sure, maybe about thirty minutes for sparring? And the rest of the time would be practice? I think the first part should be about an hour…to learn the moves and get comfortable with them.” Replied Jennie. Amy and Brad agreed with this time table, so they moved on to the next item on the list Brad was holding. This planning session was supposed to last about an hour, but it ended up taking them closer to two hours before they nailed down all the details. They had to decide what time to start the classes, what order to teach the moves, what moves they were teaching, how many moves would be optimal, and on and on it went. More details then any of them had imagined. But part of this was pure nerves. They were all on edge about teaching this new program to the women and making sure that it was done right. In the end they decided that, if possible, they would have the first class on a Friday night and finish it the next day in the afternoon. That way they were not interfering with school or homework. Might put a little crimp in the weekend dating ritual, but some things couldn’t be helped.
Amy and Jennie split the list of names and each called half to give them the times of the classes. And to remind them to bring in the signed permission slips. The girls all sounded pretty enthusiastic about the classes and said they would be there. After she hung up the phone with the last caller, Amy sighed a bit sadly. “What’s wrong Amy?” asked Jennie, a little worried about her friend with all this pressure being put on her. “I am a little sad about the need to teach this class. I want to go back in time and fix it so that we never, ever even thought about self defense, in reference to ourselves. I want to be innocent again.” A tear made it’s way slowly down her cheed, which she angrily brushed away. “I know that is not possible, and that what we are doing is wonderful, but it is sad too,” “Yes, it is” agreed Jennie. Then she smiled, a bright excited smile and looking at Amy she said “We are going to Change the way women think about taking care of themselves! We are going to CHANGE the WORLD Amy! The three of us, or the eight of us actually, counting the parents and Jon, are going to change the world, starting this Friday!” “How did we ever come to this place Jennie? How did we manage to find something so important that we CAN change the world? We are just ordinary people in an ordinary town, what is it that made us so special?” she asked her friend with a troubled look on her face. Jennie finally realized what was bothering her friend. Amy was afraid, she was afraid that they would not be able to do this, not be able to pass along the things that they had learned this summer. She was afraid that they would fail, that SHE would fail, and in failing, someone else would get hurt. Jennie walked over and putting her arm around her friend she said “There is absolutely NOTHING ordinary about you my friend, or about ANY of us. We are going to make this happen and it is going to be a good thing! Trust me!” and giving her a quick hug she started picking up the lists and other items they would need that Friday night, and got ready to go home. Amy was smiling as her friend left the dojo.
The next day Brad called Jon and asked him to stop by the dojo that evening, something in his voice must have alerted his friend because he asked him what was up. “We just need to talk to you is all.” He replied. Without asking any more questions Jon told him he would be there and asked what time. Brad told him the time and then hung up and sat staring into nothingness as he thought. Then he got up decisively and walked out to his car. He needed to go see Amy and let her know what was going on tonight so that she would be ready.
The three of them, Amy, Brad and Jon, were sitting in Brads office that evening, with Jon being the only one not vibrating with nerves. He was his usual calm self, just waiting for the couple to get to the point of his visit. Now that the time had come to actually ask someone for the help she now knew she needed, she was too scared to say anything. She looked beseechingly at Brad, hoping that he could read her mind and start this thing off. After a couple of minutes waiting, just to make sure he was not stepping in where he shouldn’t be, he did just that. “Jon, Amy and I have asked you here to help us out with a bit of a problem we have.” He started “We need someone to sort of referee our emotions.” Jon looked a little bewildered by that and so Brad continued to explain. “To be blunt about it, Amy is ready to start healing, to start her new life and the only way we can see for that to happen is if she manages to talk to someone about what happened to her. I know in my heart that if I am alone with her when she does, I will manage to hurt her with my inability to handle what she is revealing to me. Not because of her, but because of the anger I know is lurking just beneath the surface, at those, those dogs that attacked her.” He was showing his agitation even as he was explaining. Amy quietly joined in “We were hoping that you could sort of act as my counselor, I need someone I can trust for this, someone who will be honest with me but not condemn me for something that wasn’t my fault.” She took a deep breath and said “Jon could you please help us?” Jon sat there looking at his old friend and his new friend, thinking long and hard about their request. As he started speaking he was shaking his head, almost in denial, but not quite.
“Amy, I think that was probably one of the hardest things you have ever or Will ever do in your life. I appreciate the courage it took for you to ask for help.” He paused to look at both of them very seriously before he said “I will be honored to help you. When would you like to start?”