My name is Abigail, and I’m not what you would call a conventional woman. Make no mistake; people would probably think less of me if they knew my story, but as you can clearly see by my telling it to you, I don’t much care what they, or you, think of me.
It was not always this way.
By all accounts, I was a typical, if not less than typical, girl growing up. I was timid, plain; I wasn’t very smart in really any subject except English.
I loved literature.
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to write poetry. Grand stories of passion, adventure, excitement. Worlds that I could escape to, where I could be bold, beautiful, and desirable to everyone for all the right reasons. I wanted a place where good always triumphed over evil, and the demons of the night were always chased away by the coming of the dawn.
My hopeless obsession was constantly besieged by reality. All through high school, I never had friends. I never had a boyfriend, or even someone that really looked at me as more than someone that merely belonged in the background. I was the person you immediately forgot after seeing them. My parents were wonderful, however. Especially my father. He always told me that I would find someone would love me for who I was, and see me for my inner beauty as well as what others could see. He knew better than I. Eventually, I found that he was absolutely right, but I didn’t believe him at the time; how could I? I was a naïve teenage girl in lower-middle class America. Boys always flocked to the girls at the top. The skinny models, the promiscuous girls with no dignity, they were who the boys wanted, and I never caught a second glance. Every day was another bitter pill to swallow. Some nights, I would press my face into my pillow and laugh bitterly at my father’s well-meaning words of comfort in between bouts of tears. My pillow would get soaked to the point of where I’d eventually pull it off the bed and fall asleep on nothing but twisted sheets and balled-up tissues. That was my routine. That was how things went for me for a long time.
I eventually graduated, and went on to college. For a time, I did well. I kept up with my schedule, balanced working part-time, and made decent grades. I went with my heart and studied literature. Despite the constant lonely nights that never seemed to leave me, I began to notice myself smiling a little more each day. I loved what I was studying, and it seemed at the time that each tomorrow was just a little bit brighter.
All of it changed in the blink of an eye.
For some, maturity is a gradual process. Girls usually mature faster than boys, but most would agree that children don’t become adults overnight. I disagree.
I am the exception.
In the middle of my sophomore year, I came home for the holidays to visit my family. They lived a few dozen miles out from Los Angeles, but I had decided to attend college out-of-state, so visits were rare. Nevertheless, my family had always been extremely religious, and holidays were a special time for us. God never really held a deep level of importance in my life as it did for my parents, but I have to admit, He has shown Himself in peculiar ways. I wasn’t completely convinced He was there at the time. Now, there is no question. He has shown me the light.
I was so young.
The night I arrived, my parents and I decided to go into town to have dinner and see a movie. It was supposed to be a nice, quiet night as nights usually were with my parents, but after film, we ran into them. Three young men, probably no older than 25, stopped us between the restaurant and the parking lot two blocks down. The two smaller ones just watched my mother and I, while the leader initiated conversation with us. I’ll never forget his voice. It was rough, like unfinished wood. It made my skin crawl even then. He asked my father if he knew where the High Museum was. It struck me as an unusual question, but later I would realize that he was testing my father. Testing him for his status, his possible level of wealth. Anyone could tell you where the gas station is, or the local bar, but a wealthy person is more likely to know where to find culture. I understand the man’s reasoning in retrospect, but my father was not a wealthy man. That didn’t stop him from giving the man exactly what he wanted to hear, however. I remember the man’s head nodding with fake appreciation as my father gave him directions. I remember his eyes glinting at me, ever so subtly, with an almost feral hunger. I looked away to the cars that passed us. The traffic was growing thin as night fell, but here and there, people leapt into taxis and such, heading home without so much as a second thought. I know, because we were among them only a few minutes later. The carefree crowd, I used to call them. As my father drove us home, the memory of those men had already faded into my subconscious, and the three of us lazily discussed the movie.
Honestly, I can’t recall what movie we saw that night.
It’s funny, I think, how some memories become so prominent in our minds that everything else surrounding them becomes almost inconsequential. We forget the other memories. We have no need of them.
When we finally returned home, it was nearly midnight. My mother was passed out in the passenger seat, and I was not far behind her. My father woke her up, and called to me to open the door. Fumbling for my keys like a blind person, I finally opened the door and collapsed onto the living room sofa. My father, the gentleman that he was, walked my mother to the threshold and then picked her up and carried her up to their bedroom. I watched him carry her. Even as young as I was then, I still watched in awe at how much he loved her. How perfect they were together. It was that perfection that I used to pray for.
Father did not come back downstairs again, and after only a few minutes, I began to drift off. That was the last moment of my old life, before everything changed.
I awoke to rough hands around my neck and my mouth. My eyes shot open, but before I could register what had taken hold of me so suddenly, the hand around my neck lifted up and hammered down across the right side of my face. My temple flared with the most intense pain of my young life. Vaguely, I remember the dark face looking down at me. I remember the hands ripping me from the sofa, and forcing me to the floor.
But what I remember most was the voice; the callous voice, full of splinters like old wood.
It said, “That was only a taste. Make a sound, and you’ll get much, much worse.”
The man flipped my body over onto my stomach and held me there. Suddenly, I heard muffled screaming from upstairs. My mother. Then I heard banging, and a loud impact on the floor of my parent’s bedroom. The man that held me down did not weaken his grip, but I grew so desperately anxious. I started to struggle. This angered the man enormously. He dug his fingers into my hair, and yanked my head up from the floor. The roots of my hair seared with agony, but I couldn’t scream. He forced my back up at such an acute angle that no sound could escape my lips except forced grunts. He whispered into my ear, “I’m not playing a f*****g game with you, baby.”
Then he slammed my head down, and I lost consciousness.
People often take for granted the time that elapses as you sleep. It’s often hard to comprehend how the world keeps moving at its normal pace despite the hours that can pass in what seems like mere moments to the unconscious mind. To this day, I still don’t know how long I had been asleep after the man cracked my head against the floor of my parent’s living room, but I do know how much my life had changed when I awoke. The first thing I saw was my father, directly across from me, tied to a kitchen chair. I had never before seen my father cry until that moment. It was such an unusual thing to wake up to. For a moment, I had forgotten where I was, or what was even happening.
But then he looked at me. His face was red and raw from exertion, and his bloodshot eyes poured thin streams of liquid down his face. He looked at me with such hopeless desperation that I became incredibly frightened, not because I had remembered what had happened, but because I imagined that he was sick, or even dying. Then, I heard the voice again. It severed the connection between my father and I with a cold chuckle. It was the kind of laugh you’d hear at a formal dinner. Almost polite, if not for the noticeable haughty tone. The man vaulted over the sofa that I was sitting on, and instantly, I realized that my hands were tied with duck tape, with a strip of tape over my mouth and around my head. He landed beside me and stared at me. I couldn’t look at him, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw he was smiling. His partner stood across the room, watching my father and I intently. There was nothing resembling a smile on his face. The man beside me looked to his friend, and then back to me.
“Would you like to know why he’s upset?” the man said to me. Delight dripped from his words like honey.
I said nothing.
“Your dear, sweet dad killed our friend. That’s why there’s storm clouds brewing over him.” he said cheerfully. I didn’t know what a true psychopath looked like until that night, but that man made the image perfectly clear for me. He cared of nothing else besides his own agenda and even the death of his ‘friend’ did not seem to affect him in the slightest. Slowly, he lifted his arm and slid his hand across my shoulder blades. I tensed up so tightly, I thought my spine would shatter. I could feel his cold flesh even through my sweater.
“We thought you folks had the goods. Your dad seemed like a decent score. Christmas is a desperate time for all of us,” he cooed. I could feel his eyes scouring my body like a starving animal. I felt violated, which at the time, I didn’t think was possible with only a stare. Then, he lifted my sweater, and began to touch me. I pulled away, but he launched onto me with such power that I thought he would break my neck right then and there. His hot, stinking breath washed over my face. I shut my eyes to block the stink out, but it didn’t work. He smelled like a thick carpet soaked with alcohol. I nearly gagged.
“I guess wealth isn’t always measured in money, right dad?” he said, suddenly turning to my father. I snapped my eyes open, and looked to my father. His face was growing pinker, and I could see his body straining with so much effort that I thought he would burst. He kept his mouth firmly shut the entire time. I looked to him, my eyes crying out to him to help me, to protect me.
All he did was watch.
The man hit me again, and my eyes darkened, but not to where I lost consciousness. He flipped me over the armrest of the sofa, and then began to rip my pants off. I could just barely register what was happening.
“Make the b***h suffer,” his friend called to him. The man only laughed.
That was just before he entered me. I had never known a man until then, and I still clench my body when I think of it. It was cold, like steel, but the pain burned bright hot. It was like something pressed against the inside of my stomach, clawing its way out of me.
I felt tears pour from my eyes, but I did not make a sound. I was perpetually frozen with fear. I felt this man would surely kill me, or even worse, kill my father if I resisted. Again and again, he forced himself into me. I could feel myself tearing, but I willed myself not to scream. My jaw began to hurt from how tightly I clenched my teeth. I kept my head down, nearly to the point that my head was dragging on the floor. I could not bear to look at my father. I knew he was watching me. I can’t imagine the pain he must have endured. To this day, I long for the pain that he experienced to be washed clean, more so than my own.
I can’t imagine what that must have felt like.
It felt like hours. The grunting, the sweat that began to cling to my skin, it was endless torture. I begged God to take my life, to take us all. I felt it in my heart that my mother was already dead, an act of recompense for the death of their friend.
But as I said, God has an unusual way of manifesting Himself, and I understood now why He chose to appear when He did.
The first thing I heard, besides the grunting of the man that was r****g me, was a shout. It was a curse of surprise. The man on top of me suddenly climbed off of me, and ran to where the shouting was taking place. I heard a scream of pain, and then sounds of intense struggle. I was so weak, I could barely move. Tenderly, I rolled myself over, and fell to the floor. The pain was nothing to what I had endured, but I could not roll myself over to see what was happening. The struggling continued for several minutes, but then everything fell silent again. Suddenly, I felt something unique against the skin of my hands. It was a tender touch, gentle and soft. I knew the hands that were now against mine. It was my father’s. He peeled the tape from my hands, and then rolled me over and tugged the tape from my mouth. I instantly curled up into his arms. He was bleeding, sweaty, and dirty, but I remember him smelling better than anything I had ever experienced. I felt comfortable again, when I had lost hope of ever feeling that again.
He pulled me back gently, and looked into my eyes. Again, he said nothing, but he rotated his shoulder away from me to reveal the man that had r***d me lying on the floor near the kitchen. He was still breathing. My father looked to me again, and I instantly understood. He helped me to my feet, and we walked to the kitchen together. He didn’t look at me again, and I think that that was because everything had changed so rapidly for the both of us. Maybe he felt it was too soon to look at me. He stepped over the body, and pulled a knife from the kitchen counter. He turned back to me, and handed it to me handle-first. His eyes were focused on the unconscious man, but I could tell he longed more than anything to look at me. To tell me that he was going to fix everything.
But he never said a word.
As I took the knife, he crouched down and rolled the body over. I looked down at the twisted, bloody face of him, the man with no soul. I’m convinced now that he was the devil’s physical manifestation. He nearly drove that fatal wedge into my life, but because of God, and because of my father, I endured.
I dropped to my knees and mounted him like he had mounted me. I lifted the knife into the air, and froze. I felt hesitation brewing within me. I realize now that I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for my father.
Firmly, my father slapped the face of the man, and then braced his arms.
“Wha…what the f**k?!” the man mumbled.
I lost control.
I drove the knife down as I screamed. It cut into him like bread, the handle touching his shirt before I pulled it out and drove it down again. It became easier. It became effortless. His shirt grew redder and redder, and the holes that filled his belly grew so wide that air began to s**k from his stomach. For a few moments, he screamed and resisted. I stabbed him so many times, and for so long, that I can’t really remember when he actually died. When the blood began to obscure the damage I had inflicted, I shifted down to his waist, stabbing as I went. I saved his d**k for last; his weapon of choice that would haunt me until my dying days. My father said nothing as I took my revenge. In his wisdom, he allowed me my release. It was priceless therapy, and he gave it to me out of the goodness of his heart.
Finally, my limbs grew so weary, that I could no longer hold the knife. It clattered beside what remained of my r****t, and I looked up to my father. My breathing was wild and heavy, and my heart pumped furiously, but when he looked up to me, I smiled. He smiled back at me. I looked into his eyes, and he stared back at mine.
I leaned forward, and kissed him. He kissed me harder and longer than I ever had been. It was my first real kiss. After what seemed like an eternity, he pulled me back. He looked at me, the way that I had seen him look at my mother so many times. His eyes traced around my face like gently falling snow. I could feel tears building in my eyes again, and I asked him what was perhaps the most difficult question of my entire life.
“Mama’s dead, isn’t she?”
He said nothing as he looked at me. I realize now it was an insensitive question. We had both suffered such serious trauma, but I suppose it was something I needed to know.
Finally, he spoke for the first time since we had returned home.
“You look so much like her. Do you know that?” he said softly, as he brushed my hair. I smiled faintly. He had answered my question in the most delicate way possible, and I’ll always love him for that. For the second time in my life, I kissed the man I loved, the man I had always loved. I knew that he loved me, and that he would always be there for me. No man could ever save me the way that he had saved me. I was his little girl, and I always will be.
They say that trauma can have a severe and long lasting effect on a person. For most people, that effect is debilitating and humiliating. I disagree.
I am the exception.
My life changed that night, but in so many ways, it made me who I am today. I’m no longer the timid woman that weeps at night, longing for love. I have found true love. He took me far away after that night, and now, he keeps me safe from all harm, wherever it may show its hideous face. We’re expecting a child soon. I don’t know if it will be a boy or a girl yet, but I know what I will name it either way. If it’s a girl, she’ll have my mother’s name. If it’s a boy, he will be named after my father.
I pray that it’s a boy.