Amy was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast with her parents two days later. Her dad was reading the paper, as usual, when he suddenly drew in a sharp breath and started chocking on his coffee. “Oh my GOD!” he exclaimed, when he could talk again, causing both Amy and Wanda to look at him worriedly “What?” they said in unison. “There is a story in here about a young woman who was attacked on the beach last night by two men!” Amy’s face drained of all color and she almost stopped breathing until he went on, “They tried to kidnap her and almost managed to get away with her, but she bit the one who had his hand over her mouth and he moved it long enough for her to get out one LOUD scream and her friends came to her rescue.” Amy let out the breath she wasn’t aware she was holding and asked “Is she okay?” “According to this article they didn’t really have time to do anything to her besides grab her and try to carry her off. It also says that there were six or seven guys in the group she had wandered off from, and when they got there they managed to get hold of both of them and hold them til the police arrived.” He looked up at the two women staring at him, “do you know what I think?” he asked, then not waiting for an answer he went on “I think that those are the same men that attacked you Amy. I think that they just attacked the wrong woman at the wrong place this time and now they are behind bars. The article said no bond as this was a violent crime.” Wanda jumped up and ran to hug her daughter. “Isn’t this just wonderful news Amy? We need to call the police station and find out if they are the same two. We need to find out if there is anything that they want us to do if it is them.” But Amy just sat there without saying anything at all, she didn’t move or blink. It almost looked like she was asleep with her eyes open. “Honey? Are you alright?” Bob asked with concern. Amy didn’t answer for a moment, then she said “What if they want me to testify or something? What if they want me to come down and identify the men? I don’t think I can do that! I don’t think I can…” she broke off and getting jerkily to her feet she started to back out of the room, looking around like those men were there waiting to jump out at her again. “I…I need to go!” and with that she nearly ran out of the kitchen and right out the front door. Wanda and Bob looked at each other in alarm. “Wanda, do you thing you should go after her?” “I don’t know, that might make it worse, but I’m worried Bob, I don’t know what we should do.” She said. They were silent for a minute thinking, and then Wanda suggested that they call Brad and Jennie to give them a heads up about what just happened and ask them to see if they could find Amy. They would have a better chance of helping her right now then her parents would, as much as it pained them to admit that, they knew it was the truth. “Yes, I think that is a good idea, please make sure they know how worried we are and ask them to let us know what is going on.” He replied. “I have to get off to work, call me there when you know something or if you or she need me here, and I’ll come right away.” Wanda nodded and then walked over and gave him a hug, holding on a little longer than usual, trying to gain a little strength from her husband, and giving some too.
When Amy ran out of the house, she had no fixed destination in mind, she was just trying to escape the situation that had just dropped into her lap. Long ago, somewhere in her subconscious, there was the belief that she would never have to deal with those men again. That they were long gone and would never show their despicable faces in this part of the country again. When she thought of them at all, it was as two faceless males doing things to her that over time her mind had censored because it was incapable of handling the details yet. And now she had been forced to think about all of that again. She was walking, almost running, down the sidewalk in the general direction of the dojo. When she realized that she was heading that way, she decided that was really where she wanted to go anyway. Maybe she could get Brad to ‘suit up’ and they could spar a little, that usually helped her regain her composure. “That was a pretty rational thought” she heard in her mind “See? You are not as weak as you might think” that little voice in her head was pretty upbeat for an imaginary being. For a second she thought she might be going insane, but then it hit her that it was normal to be hearing yourself think, but not usually in the third person. She stopped and stood still for a minute, thinking about what she was about to do. If she went to the dojo then Brad would want to know what was going on, and she wasn’t really up to explaining it to him right now. He would want to make it better for her, and that would not help much. She could go see Jennie but she would most likely smother her with concern and try to make her feel better, again, not really much help. So what was she going to do? She didn’t have many good friends and she had just ruled the main two out, who was left? And then she remembered Jon. That was the answer! She changed the direction she was traveling and started heading for – where? She didn’t know where Jon lived or worked. She knew his phone number but she had never had occasion to visit him at either place. Later, when she was in better control of her thoughts, she would feel bad about that lack of knowledge, but right now it was just another hurdle she needed to get by before she could get help. She had left the house without her purse or anything else, like change for the pay phone, so even if she had had his number with her she couldn’t have called him. After standing there for a few minutes she slowly began walking towards the dojo again. She needed to speak to Jon and the only way she knew for sure to contact him was through Brad. If she were very careful in explaining her need then Brad, being the great guy that he was, would understand and not try to force her to do or say any more than she was able to. He would just help her. Wouldn’t he?
When Amy walked into the dojo 15 minutes later, Brad almost cried. The look on her face hurt him so bad. She had reverted to that scared young girl with the hunched shoulders and the dead eyes that had walked into his dojo not so long ago. Her newfound composure and confidence seemed to have deserted her. He didn’t really know what he should or could do to help her, but as he had done in the past, he let his instincts guide him. The truth. That was the cornerstone of their friendship, and that would be the best thing now. “Amy, I’m glad you are here.” He started “your mom called and told me what happened.” He said this in a matter of fact tone, not with sympathy or pity, and he didn’t offer to touch her in any way. She stopped and stared at him, holding herself tightly with her arms wrapped around her stomach as if it were hurting her. “She did?” she asked, almost accusingly. “Yes, she was worried about you and wanted me to know in case we needed to go looking for you.” He explained. “Now, I need to let her know you are here, but first, please tell me WHY you are here.” She was silent for a moment, and then she said “I need to talk to Jon” Those words were both reassuring and painful to Brad. Reassuring because it meant that she wanted help dealing with this sudden reccurrence of her terrifying experience and painful because she wanted to talk to Jon and not to HIM! Brad was adult enough to realize that he would just have to suck it up and do what needed done for Amy. So he invited her into his office to use the phone. When they got there he closed the door and reached for the phone. “Brad, I’m sorry” she said before he could touch it “I didn’t want to come here, but I didn’t know how to reach him. I’m sorry to put you in the middle of this.” He stopped and looked at her in shock. “You are Sorry?” he asked in astonishment “Sorry for coming to me, your friend? Amy I care very deeply for you and our friendship and I am so proud of you right now, you are asking for the help that you need instead of shutting yourself away again. Please never apologize to me for doing the right thing, ok?” He knew that she wouldn’t get that right now, but he had to say it. She shook her head mutely and he just sighed and picked up the receiver and started to dial. When Jon answered, he told him that Amy was here in his office and needed to speak with him right away. Jon asked him if she was ok, and the reply was a solid “no” Then Brad offered the receiver to Amy and she recoiled as if it were a snake. She lifted beseeching eyes to his and said in a whisper “could you please ask him to come here?” he nodded and again spoke into the phone. Jon didn’t hesitate, “Tell her I will be there just as soon as I can get to my car.” He said. Then he added “Brad, stay with her, don’t leave her alone, ok? I don’t know what this is about but I can only guess at how serious it is if she couldn’t even speak to me on the phone.” Brad agreed and they hung up. Amy slowly sank down into the chair and curling her legs up under her lowered her face into her hands and just sat like that until Jon arrived, not crying, not talking – just shutting herself off from the world. Brad sat quietly behind his desk, never taking his eyes off of the sad little figure of the woman he loved.