Sunday, May 15, 2011

Homer told me it was time to go out. He said I'd been wallowing in my own sadness and fright for the past month. Well, what do men know. But he took me out regardless. He said we were going to dinner at a restaurant uptown, away from Watershed Heights. So I get dressed up. I put on my heels, a nice dress, and the necklace Mrs. Speier gave me after I'd been working for her for ten years. I put on my coat and Homer whisked me out the door for a night on the town.

But we never made it out to the restaurant. We didn't even leave the neighborhood. Because on that night, the fountain in the middle of the roundabout was alive with flowing water oncemore. The fountain gurgled and rushed with water and energy. And suddenly, I found myself gravitating towards it. My foot lifted out of the heel as I slipped my toes into the water. The other shoe came off as well, and I laughed. The water felt cool and refreshing and so perfect on that warm night. The water splashed around my ankles and for the first time, I felt hope.
“Clarissa, come on, I’ll come with you.”
Homer never went to church with me in the 20 years we’ve been married. But suddenly now that I do not go, he’s just dying to become a Christian. Well, good for him. I’m sure he’ll find peace in that. I however, I know better. There is no God. He does not exist. Now, it has nothing to to with the attack. But the attack is what made me realize that there is no God and I do not need to ask for some other-worldly power to come down and save me if I need it. I have supported myself and my husband for this long, it makes no sense that I should have thought that anyone or anything but myself would save me from the attack.
I was wrong. Nothing will save you from the world. There is never going to be anything to stop the world from coming down and hurting you. I thought it was different, but I was wrong. Now I know differently. Now I know that I am all there is.
They took me away and I never came back. My body came back. The rape kit came back: negative. My mind still held residence at Watershed Heights. But my soul, the real me never returned. I came back to Homer as a hollow shell of the woman he once loved.
In the ambulance, I would have thought the siren would be even louder than before, but contrarily, it was almost silent. The ride, however, was not serene. The medical people cut off my clothes and left me bare. The examined my body and calculated my chances of severe injury, survival, emotional breakdown. I wasn’t there to them, I was just another situation to be handled. I was poked and prodded for a reaction. The hospital doctors poked and prodded me too. They bandaged my wounds and taped my ribs and stitched me up so Homer could take me home. The Speiers gave me two months off work so I could recover, but I told them that wasn’t right. I turned in my notice the day I got home from the hospital. I stayed on my couch while Homer tried to make me tomato soup even though it hurt his limp and thought. I stayed in my apartment for three weeks and thought. I thought as I healed and I thought for a while after that. And when I finally saw daylight for the first time in those three weeks- when I finally stepped outside, I knew that I did not believe in God anymore.
I thought I was going to faint during the ambulance ride, I wish I had, but instead I heard everything.
"Blunt trauma to the face, chest, abdomen, legs, and back. Lacerations to the neck face, possible facial fractures. Possible rib fractures and internal bleeding. Possible organ bruising. We'll also need to do a rape kit. She's pretty banged up, so we'll need a trauma room right when we get there."

I was going to need a rape kit. Because I could have been raped.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I don't know how long he left me for, but when I woke up, the smell of pie had vanished from Watershed Heights and the lights had come back on. They were so bright I could barely see, the pounding in my head too much to bear. I kept thinking the Lord would come down and rescue me, but instead I could hear someone scream "Clarissa!" and the thumping of running feet got louder and louder on the pavement as she got closer. "What happened?" she asked. I tried to answer, but nothing came out of my mouth but mangled words and gargled sound. All I could say was "Oww, help." Although the call for help wasn't necessary. The woman screamed for more assistance, and two men came over to me, one calling 911 and the other assessing my wounds. The poking and prodding was truly awful, like being categorized as some sort of... well, as something other than a person and more like a situation.
"Homer." That's all I could get out. Over and over, I just kept saying "Homer. Homer. Homer." More lights came, but these ones were the red flashing of an ambulance, the siren piercing my already fragile ears. More people came over, more poking and prodding, and they loaded me up and took me away.
I could smell that pie as soon as I got to Watershed Heights. All the lights were out, but not being able to see was made up for by the glorious smell of apple pie. I thought about going to grab a slice to bring back to Homer as a surprise. I crossed the street, almost past the Vietnamese Restaurant, when my arm was enclosed in this incredibly forceful grasp. Now Homer can pull my arm hard sometimes, or at least he used to when he could keep up with me, but this grasp was so firm it hurt. I turned to see who it was, maybe that pushy Vivian Mooney. But it wasn't. It was a tall figure dressed in corduroy pants and a button down shirt. His eyes were the kind of piercing blue that stops women in their tracks and makes them stare. They did the same to me. I froze in that moment and the only thing I could see were those bright blue eyes, like the color of hot, blue fire. I suppose that's why I didn't notice the knife he was holding, how it came closer and closer to my throat until I could feel the blade pressed against my flesh, drawing blood the further he pressed. Nothing was said, but the arm and the blade guided me farther into the alley between the restaurant and the convenience store. Kids around the neighborhood tended to call it the "Stab n Grab" as opposed to its rightful name as the "Stop n Shop."
"Don't say nothing or I'll slit that throat of yers," he said, pressing me up against the alley wall. I nodded silently, lips pressed together, one arm clutching my bag, the other at an odd angle due to the way he was grabbing me. "Gimme yer bag lady, do it now." He wanted my bag, of course he wanted it.
Slowly, with the knife still pressed firmly to my throat, I released my hold on the handbag, slipped it off my shoulder, and stretched my arm in his direction. He dropped the arm grabbing me and snatched the bag from my grasp.
He dropped the knife from my throat just then, and I thought "thank you Lord, thank you for sparing me. Thank you so much. It's finally over." But then his arm cocked back, and his fist came to my face with a force that would have knocked a man flat out in those old boxing matches I used to watch as a child.
Now on the ground, his kicks hit me too, and all I could think was how strong he was and how he must get tired soon from kicking so hard.
Then there was a foot coming at my face, and nothing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Homer always orders the same thing. He always gets meatloaf, collard greens, and if they have it, sweet potato souffle, although usually Deena's out by the time we get there. It takes so gosh darn long to get him over there. Men with bad limps tend to dislike going out anywhere, but Homer and I go to Deena's Diner every Tuesday for dinner. I typically order the chicken. It's simple and healthy the way Deena makes it. Bianca is in the next booth over. We see her around here often. Danielle is always our waitress. Young girl, probably not twenty, but she's got a good heart and a smart head on those shoulders. I've never seen her get fussy with a customer which is more than I can say for most of the staff.
She serves us in the same way every Tuesday. We come in, and Danielle immediately brings us two iced teas, mine sweet, Homer's un-sweet. Then she puts our order in, and it takes about fifteen minutes before we're eating. I eat fairly quickly, but Homer takes an eternity. I suppose it's because the poor man doesn't get out often. That awful limp keeps him at home, in our apartment, watching "The Price is Right" for a good portion of the day.
After we eat, Danielle offers us dessert, and every time we decline. She'll usually persist that the apple pie is "the best in America, ma'am." That sweet girl always calls me ma'am or Mrs. Henderson. Well, she always says that, and every time it gets me. I just love apple pie. So Homer and I split a piece, and about half the time she puts it on the house for "being so pushy." Then we get up, cross the parking lot, and go back to Watershed Heights until the next Tuesday when we'll repeat the same routine.