With Bobby’s help Amy made it back to her friends and family. Bobby was touted as a hero for being in the right place at the right time, and Rover got an extra biscuit for finding this wonderful ‘bone’ on the beach.
Bobby called the police and told them that he had a young girl named Amy at his house, giving his address, that his dog had found on the beach and that they needed to send an ambulance. She was hurt and claimed to have been in the ocean since the night before. And was rather surprised at the reaction he got on the phone. He didn’t have to explain much of anything and he was told that an officer would be there in just a few minutes.
And it turned out to be true, there were two patrol cars in his yard in under ten minutes. There were four officers in those two cars and they all came into the house to make sure that this was really Amy. Then two of them started talking with Amy and the other two turned to Bobby. The officers were not quite as polite as one would expect at this point. They did at least Ask him to step outside, but then they started asking him all kids of questions that he could only marvel at. “where have you been all night?” “Where did you ‘find’ her?” “Did you do this to her?” “HOW did you find her?” How did you get her back here?” “Why did you bring her here, why not take her straight to the hospital?” and on it went for quite a long time. Bobby was starting to get a little upset with this line of questioning. Here he was, the Good guy who had found and helped this injured young girl and they were treating him like a criminal! After a while he told them to go ask Amy those questions. “I have not done anything wrong and I resent the way you are treating me.” He told them. “If you think that I had anything to do with hurting her you are crazy!” The officer replied “We have to ask these questions, we cannot just assume that you are innocent when we do not have all the facts.” Bobby conceded that this made sense, but also thought that Amy’s story could be taken as fact. “Ok guys, here’s the deal, either take our words for it or arrest me, I’m really tired of trying to convince you of something that I cannot prove.” At this point the ambulance pulled up and the officers broke off their questions to go in with the medics. It didn’t take them long to get Amy settled onto the gurney and then they were ready to take her to the hospital. As they wheeled her past Bobby, she held out her hand and thanked him, with tears in her eyes, for being so kind to her that morning. She asked “where’s Rover? I want to give him a hug before I go. If it hadn’t been for him I would still be laying out there and I would never have been able to get help by myself. Bobby, you and Rover saved my life. I can never repay you for that gift.” It was at that point that the police pretty much crossed Bobby off their suspect list.
The police had called Amy’s parents and had them meet them at the hospital, so they were there waiting for her when the ambulance arrived. Amy was sure that she had never seen a more wonderful sight in her life as seeing her parents there that morning. She had worked so hard and endured so much and now she would be able to stop being so strong and let her parents take over the load. What a relief it was to let go of that chore.
What she was not prepared for was the tears she saw running down their faces.
Amy’s parents, Bob and Wanda Johnson were very devoted to their only child – they knew that they spoiled her, but she was their ‘little girl’ and she was so important to them, how could they NOT spoil her? She was such a good baby, she never really fussed or cried all that much, and she was a wonderful child. So caring and happy all the time, she rarely got sick and she did what she was told. To put it bluntly she was an almost perfect daughter. She got good grades and never did any of those things that the other parents were always complaining about. She didn’t stay skip school, she drove responsibly, she did her homework. All those things proved to them that she was destined for greatness, so of course they spoiled her.
And she had been beautiful from the day she was born. Her hair was a shiny red gold, what most people would call strawberry blond, and her eyes were so big and blue that they felt you could drown in them. She was always active, running and playing and swimming. Once she had discovered swimming there had been no keeping her from the water. It was like she had been born to swim. Amy made it onto the high school swim team the first year she tried out, surprising everyone except her parents.
She had grown into a stunning beauty, (5’5”, long red gold hair, really straight, slender and athletic) in their opinion, but she was not conceited or mean or any other of those things that people associated with beautiful women. She was careful to not hurt people’s feelings and was always trying to help people.
She did have one little thing that she did that worried them on occasion. She would forget to call them and tell them where she was. Usually if she was late getting home they would just go ahead with dinner and not worry too much, she was always at a friends house and would eat dinner there and come home later. They had spoken to her about it a number of times, but she always said she was sorry and that she would do better and they would let it go. She rarely went anywhere alone; she usually went places with a group. She didn’t date yet, at least not one on one, so that wasn’t a problem.
All of that was the reason that they had not worried as much as other parents might have, when Amy didn’t come home the night before. They just thought that she had ended up at a friends house and they had lost track of the time. The were a little concerned when she hadn’t made it home by midnight, but when they called her best friends house, Jennies parents said that she wasn’t home either, so the four of them decided that at as long as the girls were together they could relax, or at least rest a little easier. So they went ahead and fell asleep.
When they had gotten the call from the police, that something had happened to Amy, they were beside themselves with worry and self blame. If only they had been more worried or had realized that something had to be wrong, none of this could have happened to their little girl. As is so often the case with parents, they were castigating themselves for injuries to their daughter before they even knew what had happened.
These were the parents that Amy saw when they wheeled her into the emergency room. Not the calm, loving, ‘adult in charge’ parents that she had expected and craved. But two people who loved someone so much that they just didn’t know how to deal with that person being injured. Amy didn’t know what to do, she was so tired and she hurt all over and she wanted her mommy and daddy to hold her and make it all better. And instead of being strong for her, they were falling apart in front of her. How could she ever tell them what had happened to her? How could she hurt them like that? When they rushed up to hug her, crying and repeating over and over how this had all been their fault, Amy realized that She was going to have to be strong for Them if she wanted them all to make it thru this in one piece. So she took a deep deep breath and started murmmering reassurances to them, telling them that she would be alright and it wasn’t their fault, she was the one who hadn’t come home after all. All the while tears ran down her face as she felted the last shreds of her childhood slip away.
Amy was kept at the hospital for three days while they ran tests and bandaged up her cuts and other injuries. During those days she spoke to a number of people about her abduction. The police, of course, had to take her statement, and that was almost as bad as the actual ordeal, having to recount what those men had done to her almost sent her over the edge. She finally found that place in her mind that she could put those feelings in and lock them away so that they would stop hurting her. Then she could talk to the very nice lady officer who came in to ask her questions. She found that she had to tuck herself away an awful lot in the following days.
After the police came the social worker, trying to determine if this had been a case of child neglect. Why hadn’t her parents called the police when she didn’t come home that night? Did she make a habit of staying out all night? Where was she and how did those men find her?
Amy never knew what they had decided about her parents, but she had made certain sure that that woman knew SHE didn’t blame her folks. They were the best parents in the world and would do anything in their power for her and she had better leave them alone!
Then there was the hospital psychiatrist. That was almost the worst. He asked loads of questions about how she felt now and how she felt while everything was happening.
Asking her if she felt like she had done something to make them hurt her and telling her that it wasn’t her fault, they were just bad men. It was unnerving to have him treat her like a child one minute and then expect her to act like an adult the next. He wanted her to trust him, kept telling her that he was her friend and he was only there to help her. Was he Crazy? How in the heck was she supposed to ever trust a strange man again? She didn’t care if he did work for the hospital, she didn’t now him and she didn’t know anything about him.
In her heart she knew he really was trying to help her, but that didn’t stop the feelings that kept welling up in her. The fear that jumped into her throat every time a man walked into her room. The shame she felt at what they had done to her. The guilt that was lying just under the surface, making her wonder just what she had done to deserve this.
She couldn’t sleep at night because she didn’t know if they were out there waiting for her. There was not a lock on the hospital door, so she couldn’t make it any safer in there. Night brought it all back to her – every time she closed her eyes she could see the looks on their faces as they did things to her. They were enjoying what they did. They liked hurting her and they weren’t worried about letting her see that. They wanted her to know that they had control and there was nothing she could do to stop them and that is what made her nightmares even worse when she did fall asleep. It seemed like an eternity before the doctors told her she was going to get to go home.
Amy knew that it was not going to be easy to face her friends and family. She knew that there were going to be questions that she wouldn’t want to answer and times when she would not want to be around other people. The psychiatrist had explained all that to her. He had told her that she had suffered a trauma and she needed to heal. He said that the healing process took time and she needed to be patient with herself and her family and friends. But she hadn’t grasped just how hard it was going to be. Even in her house she jumped at every noise and still had nightmares. She couldn’t stand to be in the dark, she kept her bedroom light on all the time. She didn’t go back to school for a couple of weeks. She told her parents that she didn’t feel well enough, that her injuries needed more time to heal and they believed her. For a while. But after two weeks they sat her down and asked her what was wrong. She could not believe that they had to ask her that! Didn’t they realize that she was afraid? That going out into the world again was more than she could bring herself to do? What were they trying to do to her? Get her attacked again? She started yelling at them, asking those questions and just hurling anger and hate at them. She couldn’t seem to stop herself, deep deep inside she knew that what she was doing was wrong, but she couldn’t seem to stop. She yelled until she had exhausted herself and then she ran to her room and locked her door, throwing herself onto the bed, she cried her self to sleep.
The next day Amy calmly told her parents that she would be going back to school on Monday and that she was sorry for her childish outburst. “I don’t know what got into me, there was just this wild hateful feeling inside and it would not be stopped.” She tried to explain, “I know that I hurt you and I am so sorry. I hate myself for it and it will not happen again.”
And she did. She got up early on Monday to make sure that she had everything ‘just so’ before she left and then she kissed her folks goodbye and left for school. Inside there was an eerie calm, almost a dead feeling, where all the anger had been before. She thought “so this is what it feels like to be a grown up” It was a whole lot easier to deal with then the anger and pain had been, so she was thankful for the change. She was pretty sure that she had passed the crisis and could now get back to her life.
All of her friends were happy to see her back at school. They all came to her at some point during that first day back to give her a hug and tell her how happy they were to see her. She spent a lot of time smiling and thanking people. And a lot of time trying not to draw back when they touched her. She hid it well, no one noticed. She slipped quickly back into the rhythm of school, homework and friends, but she was different. She was quieter now, and didn’t laugh anymore. She smiled and she joked around with her friends, but she didn’t laugh, it was almost like she had forgotten how. She also seemed to be aware of everything around her all the time. If someone, somehow, walked up behind her and startled her she would give a cry and almost fall trying to back away. Friends and family tried their best not to do that to her, they hated to see her jump like that.
Some of Amy’s friends didn’t hang with her anymore. It seemed like a few of them thought that she had done something wrong and they didn’t want to be around her. This hurt her very deeply, but, with her newfound ‘adult’ perspective, she shrugged it off as a non issue. What no one seemed to notice was Amy didn’t make any new friends to take the place of the missing ones. She was not good at meeting new people, she acted almost shy around strangers, wouldn’t look them in the eye, stood with her head down. Her friends gradually got used to this new girl named Amy and her little traits pretty much became a part of everyday life.
Jennie was her Guardian Angel. She seemed instinctively to know when Amy needed to get away from the others and would suggest a walk, or remind Amy that they needed to go to the library to study. Sometimes she would just take her hand and the two of them would walk away for a bit. She never asked Amy any questions about what had happened, she just kept her company and let her know in a hundred little ways that she cared and would be there for her if she needed her. Amy was so thankful for someone who seemed to understand her need to put this behind her and to move forward with her life. She never even realized how much Jennie actually helped her every time they were together. It just seemed like a natural thing for Jennie to help her out of awkward situations or to calm her with a touch, a word or a smile.
Amy and Bret never managed to get past that night, and so their friendship slowly died in the midst of awkward conversations where neither wanted to mention that night, but it stood between them like a wall, getting thicker and thicker every time they spent any time together. Bret had a huge load of guilt over his inability to keep Amy safe, that whole masculine myth rearing its ugly head. And Amy not wanting to even think about that night, let alone talk about it, and she really didn’t know that what he wanted was reassurance that it wasn’t his fault. If she had known she would have given it to him.
But she didn’t, and slowly the budding friendship died.