Finally found peace, or did she?
|She stood in the shadows, enveloped by the forest that surrounded her. It felt safe to be lost in such an expansive sea of trees. The hardwoods mixed with the stands of Pine always drew her soul deep into its belly. Her short red hair glistened as she stepped into an occasional ray of sunlight, her eyes as green as the leaves themselves.
She did not come for the tranquility. She did not come to hear the quiet orchestrated sounds of nature. She came to surrender herself to the woods, to feel safe from the fearful world she had to exist in to survive.
The path she walked had no immediate destination. It wandered from Oak to Maple to Pine in a beautiful maze created by the creatures who were lucky enough to call this forest home. Her petite body moved with agility as she climbed the hills and valleys, letting time slip by with no regard to deadlines or appointments. Time was forever in this canyon of green, the only clue that told her evening was approaching was the change in shadows cast on the ground.
The sun was low in the evening sky when she emerged from the tree line. She stood and studied her surrounds, taking in every sight and sound before proceeding to her car. As she drove the thirty miles to her house, the scenery slowly faded from serenity to the hustle, bustle of a large city. Before long, she was dodging impatient drivers who filled the roads with chaos, always in a hurry to be somewhere.
As she pulled into the driveway of the small ranch house, panic coursed through her blood. She sat for a full five minutes before she could regain enough control of her emotions to force herself to move. It was a beautiful neighborhood, considering the proximity to the industrial heart of the city.
Clean, well dressed children played, uninhibited by fear or trepidation. Flowers bloomed and trimmed trees adorned the yards of the homes surrounding hers. Fresh paint was apparent and teenagers were washing their cars in the late afternoon sun.
But, the fear hung over her still. She was unable to lose herself here like she could in the forest. It would seem easy to disappear in a city full of people, but he had always managed to find her, no matter where she moved, no matter where she ate, no matter where she worked. He was always there watching, watching her every move.
She first met him at the take-out counter of a local restaurant. He fell in behind her while she waited for her order. Tall, broad shouldered with a stylish hair cut, he was easy to look at. They quickly fell into a light hearted discussion of the current news events and weather. She picked up her order, said a polite goodbye and walked out with no further thoughts of the chance meeting.
That moment in time changed her life forever. The guy was a stalker. In fact, the chance meeting was not by chance after all, being planned out well in advance. He starting showing up everywhere, bumping into her at the market, on the subway, outside her worksite. He always had a smile, always laughed at the so called, surprise meetings. Then the letters started, beautiful love letters that slowly turned to disdain when she rejected his efforts.
She moved, and he followed. She switched to an unlisted phone number, and he still called. She went to the police, and he still haunted her, invading her peace and filling her with fear.
The letters, the calls, dripped in anger and became vile until he finally attacked one night. Her very blanket of safety was compromised when he quietly broke into her house and savagely raped and beat her.
She was in the hospital for 3 weeks recovering from the viciousness of his hostility. Her body healed, but her spirit never did. He was apprehended and found guilty of rape and assault with bodily harm and was sentenced to 15 years. That had been 8 years ago. He has been out of prison for five years now, getting out on a technicality.
Although he never resumed his torment on her, she felt it constantly like it had never stopped. She never felt safe in her home, but was even more hesitant to leave it. She panicked whenever she was in a crowd of people, always thinking she saw him. Every where she went, every where she looked… he was there, or was it just in her mind? The nights were worse than the daylight hours. When the sun went down and most people happily fell into the comfort of their beds, she cried. She hated to sleep. The dreams came and invaded her mind, her heart, her very soul until she cried out and woke in a drenching sweat.
She joined a local church and felt some comfort in strengthening her religious beliefs. Over time, she healed to a certain degree. She never forgot, but she started living for the future again. She found work that entwined her and kept her busy with creativity and involvement. She worked her way up and soon was asked to move to corporate headquarters downtown.
She started going to lunches with coworkers and shopping with friends. She had a neighbor plow a small patch of ground in her backyard and planted tomatoes and green beans and strawberries. She loved strawberries.
The move to corporate was easily accomplished and her office had a spectacular view that she revered every morning as she watched the early sun rise over the city laid out below her. The weeks rolled by and she became at home in her responsibilities and gathered friends in the process.
Her home flourished and she laughed while watching the children play.
The next Monday, when she arrived at her desk, there was a note advising her of a meeting of department heads. She was asked to attend so she could meet her ‘higher-ups’. She was nervous, as this would be the first time she would meet all the other members of ‘The Team’ as they called it. But she was confident and gathered the required material and made her way to the conference room.
Being the first one to show up, she entered the double doors and stepped into an empty room. The room was enormous and consisted of a huge rectangular oak table, expensively upholstered chairs, several smaller groupings of tables and wall to wall bookcases. The bookcases intrigued her as they contained the most expansive collection of books she had ever seen outside of a library. Intermixed among the books were various artifacts collected by the CEO’s as they traveled the world.
As she stood transfixed by the amazing articles surrounding her, she heard someone enter the room. She turned to introduce herself and froze in terror. All the fear, all the horror, all the nightmares she had endured, came to haunt her again….
“Hi Laura, its been a long time hasn’t it?”
She shook uncontrollably and finally stuttered “How did you find me?”
"Well you see my beauty, I never lost you!”