Olivia and Lisa stood across from each other at the kitchen table, the distant clacking of a keyboard the only sound in the room—perhaps the only sound in the house. In front of each woman, a full plate of an untouched lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup. Neither was very hungry, but lunch had been made and served nevertheless.
Lisa badly wanted to comfort her daughter, but was unsure of how to go about comforting her. Olivia only just sat in silence, not responding in any way to the environment around her. Feeling helpless, Lisa only sat in her own stunned silence, trying to wrap her mind around the events of the night before. How could she have let this happen? She couldn't help but feel guilty about the one thing she had no control over—but how could she not feel guilty? A mother is supposed to protect her children; but while she was focused on protecting two, she forgot about the one. And although Olivia was nearly an adult, she still needed her mother's protective hand. And in her hour of need, Lisa's hand of protection was nowhere in sight. She should have been at the hospital with her last night, she should have been at the church when the service had been let out, and she should have been at the church, period. If she had stayed and finished the work she needed to do, none of this would have happened.
Olivia wouldn't have gotten hurt.
Across the house, Jacob tried to keep his mind occupied by finishing his sermon on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. But his thoughts only lead to the rape. He tried, but couldn't keep from envisioning the crime that was done to his eldest daughter. And every time his thoughts strayed, he only got angrier with himself and with God. How could he have let this happen to his daughter? How could God not have stopped it? He knew that God had plans for each of his children, but how could this…this horror be a part of His plan for Olivia? Jacob knew the pain that came from this kind of abuse; he was far too familiar with the kind of scars it left on more than just the victim. This is the kind of thing he wouldn't wish on his greatest enemy. So why then, Jacob questioned, would God allow this to happen to his daughter?
Jacob shut off his laptop after a while, giving up on finishing his sermon. He couldn't possibly preach about how wonderful and amazing God was if he didn't believe it himself. He felt like crying, but kept the warm ache within his chest. The pain spread from his chest to his head and stomach. His eyes burned, and his head pounded. But he refused to let a single tear escape. Instead, he put his head between his knees, and locked his fingers behind his neck, taking slow, steady breaths. After a while, he buried his head in his hands, dragging them down his face, and rubbing his temple.
"Oh, Lord…" he said. "Oh, Lord…"
He took a deep breath, and rubbed his hands together. He was startled by the sudden ring of his cell phone, and tried to settle himself down as he reached to answer it.
"Hello," he answered, rubbing his face.
"Mr. Price?" the voice on the other end questioned.
"Yeah," he replied. "Who is this?"
"Mr. Price, this is Detective Collins, from the hospital last night? I'm calling about your daughter, Olivia."
"Yeah," Jacob nodded. "Yes. What about? Have you gotten any leads or information or anything?"
"Not exactly, no. But I was hoping to be able to talk to Olivia, to see if she wants to go forward with a case, and things like that. I wasn't able to talk much with her last night."
"Uh…" Jacob thought for a moment, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Yeah, I can see if she can come over. Not a problem."
"Alright. I can assume that if she's not here in…two hours then she's decided not to come?"
"Yes, of course." Jacob nodded. "I'll let her know."
There was a click on the other end. Jacob looked down at his phone, watching it go back to its lock screen. He tossed it back and forth between his hands pensively, sighing. He set it down and ran a hand through his hair, leaning back in his chair.
Oh, Lord… Jacob prayed. What is going on? Why did You allow this to happen? You were supposed to protect her. You promised.
Jacob, I am just as broken about this as you are, my son.
"Then why, Lord, why did You let it happen? Why didn't you stop it?" Jacob whispered angrily. Blood rushed to his face, his heart beginning to race.
I cannot enter into that Darkness, Jacob.
"You could have stopped it from escalating," Jacob retorted. "You could have made it so she wasn't alone."
I am working on your behalf, my son. Be patient. Don't you know that I work for the good of those who love Me, who have been called according to My Purpose?
"Romans 8:28," Jacob sighed. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I can bring good out of the bad, Jacob. Do you not know? Have you forgotten? You are preaching these words, but you do not have the faith.
Jacob sighed, defeated. He had nothing left to argue. He was too tired to continue. It was pointless, anyway.
Pushing himself up from his chair, phone in hand, he left his study and walked towards the kitchen, preparing to tell Olivia what Detective Collins had told him.
"I don't want to go," were the first words Olivia had spoken in the twelve hours since she'd arrived home.
"Olivia, please," Lisa begged. "They should at least have a good I.D. on the man who did this, so if it happens again they can arrest him. You don't have to go to court if you don't want to, but you should at least help them target a suspect."
Olivia shook her head. "I said I don't want to go. They already did enough. I just want to move on with whatever I have left of my life."
Lisa stood from where she was sitting and walked around the table, sitting herself next to her daughter. Tentatively, she reached an arm across Olivia's shoulders, trying to comfort her hurting daughter.
"This will help," Lisa said softly. "I know it seems like it won't, but you have to trust that it will." She leaned over and gently kissed her daughter's forehead, above her stiches.
"Please, just do this for us, and do this for yourself."
Olivia blinked away the forming tears, and swallowed the lump in her throat. She looked down.
"Fine," she whispered softly. "I'll go."
Lisa smiled softly. "Thank you," she leaned over and kissed her daughter again. Jacob came around to Olivia's other side. He brushed her hair out of her beaten face, trying to fight back his own tears. Resting a hand on her shoulder, he sighed deeply
"We should get going," he said, not knowing what else to say. Feeling a little stupid, he sighed and shook his head.
"I mean…" shaking his head again, he tried to find comforting words. He had never been in this kind of situation before, and nothing came to mind that he thought would help.
"No," Lisa intervened. "No, you're right, Jacob." She looked down at her daughter, meeting her eyes.
"We should get going. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can start healing."
"Would you like one of your parents to come in with you, Olivia?" Detective Collins asked, watching Olivia walk into the hall.
Looking back over her shoulder, Olivia thought for a moment, and shrugged. "My mom, I guess."
"Mrs. Price?" Detective Collins called, peering over Olivia. Lisa stood quickly, and rushed over to the door the detective was holding open.
As Lisa and Olivia walked into the hall, Detective Collins shut the door, and began leading them through the maze of a hallway that led into his office.
"Coffee?" He asked, letting Lisa and Olivia walk into his office ahead of him. When they were in the room, he shut the door firmly and walked over to his coffee maker.
"No, thanks." Lisa replied, as she and Olivia sat in the two chairs opposite the detective's.
"Olivia?" he held out an empty mug.
Olivia shook her head, remaining silent.
Shrugging, the detective poured himself a cup, and walked over to his desk, seating himself.
"Well," he said, gathering the paperwork he needed. "We have quite a few things that I would like to discuss with you, Olivia, if that's alright."
Olivia nodded silently.
"Can I start with your birthdate?"
"November 14th, 1995."
"Almost eighteen," Collins said with a smile, writing down the information given to him.
"That's a pretty big milestone."
"Yeah, I guess," Olivia sighed, sinking lower in her chair. She brushed a strand of hair out of her face, and crossed her arms.
"Alright…" Collins let out a puff of air, gathering his thoughts.
"So, many of the questions I am going to ask you are going to be a little intrusive; and I promise you that it's not because I don't believe that what happened last night was a lie. I just need all the information I can get. It will help us make a strong case against the perpetrator, if you decide you want to go to court."
Olivia shrugged in reply.
Exhaling sharply, Collins collected the papers once again, and got himself ready to record the information he would receive.
"Let's start with the beginning," he said. "Can you tell me every event from last night, starting from around six p.m.?" He pushed a box of tissues on his desk closer to Olivia, in case she needed them later on.
Rubbing her hand across her neck, Olivia began recounting what she remembered.
"I went to youth group," she started, slowly forming each word in her mouth.
"At six, I went to youth group at my church. I hung out with some friends before it started, since I was there at least a half hour before it actually started. We, you know, did anything that…normal kids do. We talked, joked…normal things." Olivia shrugged, and moved more hair from her face.
Detective Collins nodded encouragingly.
"Then, you know, youth group started and we did worship and stuff, Michael presented his sermon, we talked in small group. I stayed behind and talked for a while longer with my small group leader, Dana. I think I was there until about 9:30 last night. I lent my car out to my brother, and Dana had offered me a ride home, but I said that I wanted to walk. I'd walked home many times before, and nothing bad had ever happened, so I didn't really think about what could happen." She turned her head towards her mother, and met her eyes.
"I know I shouldn't have walked home alone." She said softly, turning her head back. She looked down at her folded hands, blinking away tears.
"And while you were walking home, did you notice anything?" Collins asked.
"Like what?" Olivia asked, slightly apprehensive.
"Like anything unusual. Someone following you, anything strange?"
Olivia thought back to the black car that had flew past her on her walk home; the same black car that had stopped and asked for directions to Marshall Park; the same car the man had walked out of before he chased her down.
"There was this car," Olivia said slowly, thinking.
"What did this car look like? Do you remember the numbers on the plate?"
She shook her head. "I didn't see the numbers—but it was from Massachusetts. It was a black Mercedes. Nothing fancy about it. Just a normal looking car."
"Alright," Collins said slowly, writing the car's information on the sheet in front of him.
"At first, I thought it was nothing. I mean, it was just driving around where I had been walking. Probably someone who was looking for a friend's house. But then it stopped beside me, and the window rolled down. There was a man inside, and he had asked me for directions to Marshall Park. He asked me to get inside, but I didn't get in. I just gave him the directions and walked away."
Lisa exhaled loudly, as if she had been holding in the breath for quite some time. Her grip on her purse lessened slightly. Her cheeks flushed, realizing that she had interrupted her daughter.
"Sorry," she said sheepishly. "I was…" she chuckled softly. "I was just worried." She looked over at her daughter, and reached out for her hand. She rested her own on top of her daughter's left hand, and squeezed it reassuringly.
Olivia looked down at her mother's hand on her own, and swallowed the lump in her throat.
"I got off the bus…it was a short ride, maybe ten minutes. I started walking faster, because I was starting to get anxious. And then, I passed Marshall Park. I had forgotten all about the man in the car, until I realized that he had followed me to the park. He got out of the car, and started walking behind me…" Olivia felt her throat close. She tried to swallow, but found it difficult.
"I started running," she said, her voice cracking. Detective Collins instinctively pushed the tissue box even closer to Olivia.
"And he did, too. And then he caught up to me. He grabbed my arm…and covered my mouth when I tried to scream. He said that if I did what I was told then it would be easier. I tried to fight…" Fat, hot tears rolled down Olivia's cheeks. She looked up at her mother. Her icy eyes were full of pain. Feeling ashamed, Olivia looked back down.
"I tried to fight," she repeated. "But he started punching, and kicking. He pushed the left side of my face into the ground, and into a broken glass bottle. He pressed my body to the ground so I wouldn't move. He had me watch. When I tried to turn my head he'd hit me. It hurt so bad…" At this point, Olivia was shaking. Images flooded her memory, images that would forever burn her memory and haunt every sleeping hour.
She reached for the box of tissues and angrily wiped them across her face, tearing the thin paper, which only made her cry more. Her face became a red and white mess of blotches, her eyes turning red, and becoming puffy. Lisa reached over and wrapped her arms around her daughter, too stunned to cry. She stroked Olivia's hair in attempt at soothing her.
Detective Collins sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. He brought his hand to his face, and rubbed his temple, dragging his hand down his face, feeling exhausted. These cases were always the worst. Sometimes he even wondered why he had become a police worker; he could only hope that they'd catch the son of a bitch who'd hurt this innocent girl.
Sighing heavily, he looked down at his paperwork. There was still so much to fill out.
"I'm very, truly sorry." He said softly. "I can't imagine the pain you must be going through." The same line, over and over, to every victim that visited his office.
"There's just a few more questions, and then you can leave. I just need a description of the man who did this."
Heaving a sigh, Olivia tried to hold back her tears. She swallowed hard.
"I don't remember much about what he looked like," she said softly.
"Can you tell me what you do remember?"
She shrugged. "He was white. His face felt like sandpaper. He had cropped hair. It was dark, but it was also dark outside, so it's hard to tell. He was tall and skinny."
Detective Collins sighed. "Thank you. You did a very good thing, Olivia, for telling us this information. It was very brave." He turned to Lisa.
"I'll call if any new information comes up,"
Nodding, Lisa stood, supporting her daughter. Silently, the two walked out of the office, and down the hall, back to the lobby, where Jacob was waiting.