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The Fuel

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 28, 29, 30 & 31

Chapter 28 – Ursula

 

Katy Perry's Fireworks blasted on the boombox I had with me. Jake brought me some fresh mixed music with girl power themes again. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Samantha parked her car in the parking lot in front of Jake's Pizza with Angelina inside her car. They ran up the grassy knoll leading to the street corner where I danced every Saturday morning.

 

"Ursula!" I heard a voice, that was soft against the loud music. I high kicked in the air as Katy Perry's song dissipated and turned down the volume.

 

"Hey girls, we can just talk with the music softly on," I said. "I have to work from 9 to noon today, so I thought I could dance while we talk."

 

The music was not on full volume, but loud enough to hear the rhythm to billboard dance.

 

"We're so sorry about being late," said Samantha, trying to talk as loud as she could without yelling.

 

"No problem, but I at least have to dance for 30 minutes at a time," I told her.

 

"Ursula, you still dance?" asked Angelina, breaking the ice.

 

"Absolutely! Where else can I dance for money without stripping?"  I winked. I raised the billboard, and wiggled my bottom towards the passing cars. The passing cars honked for the booty action. Samantha pumped up the stereo to full volume and Katy Perry's 'Fireworks' blasted on.

 

Ursula handed the billboard to Samantha as she laughed and began to dance with the music. The billboard puzzled her at first, only raising it up and down, and Chaplin jumping. A car honked three times at the girls on the sidewalk. Triple the applause.

 

'Do you ever feel like a plastic bag…drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?' Samantha handed the sign to Angelina, and she held one end with her hand and popped it to the opposite directions then raising it and swung it to the left and right with the rope handles behind the light billboard.

 

'You just got to ignite the light…and let it shine…' Angelina opened one arm wide and pointed to the billboard, raising it over her head and pivoted forward and backwards. She wiggled her bottom, and handed the billboard to me.


'Cuz baby you're a firework…' I straddled jumps with the billboard over my head and an old lady driving inside her car honked one long continuous horn. I loved her and blew her a kiss. I took the billboard and turned it around and around by the left rope handle over my head, as I stepped to the side, the front, the other side around about then straddle jumped for an end to the verse of the music.

 

'Boom Boom Boom…even brighter than the moon, moon, moon...' We chained our arms together, passing the billboard to each other as Ursula switched arms in the center, turning us around and high kicked in a circle.

 

As the song finished, I took the sign and Russian split in the air and landed on her feet, to a kneel forward with the billboard on her thigh. I waved to the cars passing by and multiple loud horns were my form of a standing ovation.

 

Thirty minutes quickly passed and I took a small break and turned the volume down on the stereo. We laughed and plopped down in a circle on the grass of sidewalk for the break. We faced Jake's Pizza, in case Jake got angry and wanted us to dance more and more to bring in more crowds.

 

"So, this is my other part time gig. To make ends meet. I want a MacBook Air," I told Samantha and Angelina as sweat pearls dropped on to my lap from my forehead.

 

"Should we talk now? We didn't know you're working right now," said Samantha, out of breath.

 

"It's all good, I didn't tell you anyhow," I replied. "So, what do you want to know?"

 

"Well, let's just get into it. We got word from Maria that you were in cheer once?" asked Samantha.

 

"I hope it's okay for us to ask you all these questions. You don't have to answer any of them, if you don't want to," said Angelina.

 

"Nah, it's all good," I answered. I kept waving to people in the cars passing by while lifting the sign up and down and side to side. "I was in cheer. I was squad leader actually. I guess Melody took that job now. She always had an eye for my spot."

 

"She got leader as a freshmen?" asked Angelina.

 

"Yeah, well, I was captain, and dated Merrick, he was quarterback. She got in because I was Merrick's girl at the time. I was a junior and Merrick was a senior and it would be rude for me not to take her in," I told them. "He was dreamy and I was just a poor girl with no money, but real cute. Don't you think I'm still cute?" I posed for them with my right chin touching my right shoulder. My petite figure didn't imply fragility, and I wanted the girls to know that although I was a high school drop-out, I was still toned and strong from dancing as Jake's Billboard Master.

 

"You're definitely gorgeous," said Angelina.

 

I loved her compliment. I haven't heard one in a long time.

 

"Were you both in love? I hope it's okay for us to ask you this," asked Samantha.

 

"No worries. I was in love. He was in it for the sex. He had a voracious appetite for it. I couldn't satisfy him sometimes," I told the girls. "We would meet after school or after practice, and just do it in his car or in the bathroom. He had an SUV, so we had plenty of space in the back." The corners of my eyes are moistened as she recalled the past. "I felt like a slut sometimes, and so when Merrick kept wanting more, it was hard for me to go back to the good girl I was supposed to be."

 

"Condoms?" asked Samantha.

       

"Oh yeah, I can't get pregnant early. I was on birth control pills and he doubled up," I confided. "One time, after a real good number, I gave him this red granite heart paper weight. To told him I loved him. I got it at a bookstore somewhere."

 

"What was his reaction?" asked Samantha.

 

"I think he took it as a sign that he could do anything to me. He knew that he could do no wrong, even though he eventually did," I said. "He wanted to see other people, and when I said no. He slapped me a couple of times. He said I was being needy."

 

"That's a crime, Ursula," said Angelina sitting cross-legged with her hands towards me, touching the sidewalk.

 

"Who cares? It was a long time ago. I don't care for what happened," I said. I leaned back, with my two hands behind me. "I'm trying to forget all those things."

 

"What happened after a few of those slaps?" asked Samantha. Her head tilted to the side, as if in curiosity.

 

"After a couple of months of him slapping me, I couldn't handle it anymore. I told him that I'll tell someone. He asked me to wait for him one night after practice. We did it in the girl's bathroom," I said. "I thought it was rough sex, but it felt like rape. I told Maria, because I felt symptoms of rape trauma and I didn't know what it was. I didn't want to be a rape victim, so I never reported, and I told Maria not to tell anyone or I'll drop-out. She told my Mom, and we got into a huge fight and I ran out." 

  

"So, he raped you?" asked Angelina. "Then you dropped out and ran away from home. Where do you live now?" 

 

My tears leaked out of my eyes again. "It felt like rape because it was really rough. I was totally hurt by it. My whole body felt really weak afterwards," I answered. "I wanted to scream. But, I didn't. I just forgot about it. Let's just say, it's really rough sex."

 

"Did you say that it was okay to rough sex you? If not, it's rape, Ursula," asked Angelina, with her elbows on her knees and he hands crossing over them. "Even if you gave him consent. If he was rough with you and raped you, after you said 'okay,' It was still rape."

 

"I don't know if rough sex with force is rape. Is it?" I asked. "Who cares? I didn't want to bother with all that stuff. I just wanted to get away from everyone."

 

"That's why you dropped out? Because he raped you, and you were scared to report?" asked Samantha.

 

"I didn't want to cause a ruckus. I got no money. My Mom and I were immigrants, we didn't have a good family, okay. I told my Mom I was going to take the GED, but she flipped out and kicked me out," I said. "I have the sorry-est family in the world. You can call them trailer park trash, whatever you want. That's what I feel like sometimes. Asian trash, that's what it feels like."

 

"Why do you think that, Ursula? Why do you think you're trash?" asked Samantha.

 

"Do you have anyone one, now? Relatives or a friend?" asked Angelina.

 

"My parents divorced because my Dad slept around. He was a mechanic and my Mom was a stay at home Mom, until she went back to school and got her nursing degree. When he left, my mom and sister and I moved to this dump near the edge of Niwot. Some dumpy old trailer ranch house," I said. "When I started high-school at Silver Creek, my Mom got a job at the gas station near the freeway. It pays the bills, but she got bitter. I hated my own Mom growing up. She just had a mouth on her."

 

I felt my eyes moist and tears crept out, although I thought I wasn't crying, … but I truly was.

 

"I just thought the world of Merrick. When I met him, he was so pretty. So clean, neatly dressed, charming, and smart. Classy. I feel so bad standing next to him and his pretty sister, Melody. But, I didn't think he'd hurt me. I just feel so bad." My chin rubbed against my left shoulder, and as I looked to the girls once more, and said, "I think he was every girl's dream."

 

Angelina and Samantha looked at each other with tears hovering in their eyes.

 

"I understand. That's how I feel about my ex-boyfriend, Collin," said Angelina. "I met Merrick, and saw who he was and what he looked like. He truly does look like a dream. I agree."

 

"I'm mostly on my own now. I was homeless for about four months after I dropped out. I didn't want to stay at home and get harassed by my mom. I took a bus to a youth shelter in Boulder. But, some girl at the shelter told me about the grocery store in Broomfield, how they're always looking for someone at the produce section. I just been working there ever since," I said. "Who cares, I don't need anyone. Anybody who needs anyone is weak." I wiped my tears with my bare hands, sobbing for a minute, then exhaling out the fears and anxiety to prevent more tears from falling.

 

"Ursula, Angelina was raped, and she needs your help. It's not because she's weak. It's because she was violated," said Samantha. The moment stood still for a few seconds. "May I give you a hug?"

 

I nodded as Samantha hugged me.

 

"Oh God, I'm so sorry," I said in realization. "I forgot I am ridiculing your rape. I didn't mean to say that you're weak. I'm sorry."

 

"You're not ridiculing anything. It's okay," said Angelina, calmly and with understanding.

 

"You're not weak and I just hugged you to calm you down," said Samantha. "It's okay to admit you need help, Ursula. Everyone needs help sometimes. Even the strongest person you know. You didn't do anything wrong."

 

"That's not what I meant," I said. "I use self-talk to tell myself that I'm not a rape victim, so I won't be afraid to be alone or feel broken inside," I fidgeted, and said, "I'm so afraid of labels such as rape victim, whore, prostitute, or easy. I slept with Merrick multiple times and I just didn't want anyone to know."

 

"Ursula. I don't know who raped me that night at the party, but I know I was raped. Also, please forgive me, I feel like I'm intruding into your life by asking all these questions," said Angelina, sitting up.

 

"Oh no, sweetie. I'm not that type of person," I said, giving Angelina a huge hug. "I just don't think I'm as raped as you."

 

"How can you say that?" asked Samantha. "What do you mean, not as raped?"

 

"Well, I mean, I didn't end up at someone else's house and got raped. Or got ambushed near some bushes in the dark. I was there, he asked me to have sex in the girls' bathroom and I said nothing. Then he raped me and he was rough, but I saw it coming," I said. "I asked for it."

 

"That's rubbish!" said Angelina, her voice trembling. "It was rape, Ursula. 'Not as raped' does not exist!" Angelina was so upset that she walked away for a second, starting to sob a few steps away from them. "You're denying the rape, Ursula."

 

"Does she cry like this often?" I leaned to Samantha.

 

"It's the side effect. She gets these crying spells now," said Samantha, looking directly into Ursula's eyes. "You're a strong girl, Ursula."

 

"Well, if you grew up in my family, you got to be," I said. "My parents don't really care for me. They just don't know what's going on in my life. I barely even talk to them before I was kicked out."

 

"It's not your fault, Ursula," said Samantha. "You didn't ask for it. It wasn't your fault. But you have to realize that running away from home and feeling anxieties, or fears, or loneliness, or broken are the symptoms of rape trauma. At least the first signs of it."

 

"If nothing is my fault, then what is?" I asked. "Listen, I don't admit to the rape, so I'm not a rape victim. I don't care if I was raped or not. I'm not letting him take the best of me."

 

Angelina looked to Ursula, and asked her, "Do you go to a psychiatrist?"

 

"Oh, hell no. There is nothing wrong with me. It's him that needs some mending!" I shouted, defiantly.

 

"You may need the therapy, Ursula. To help yourself feel better about your life. It's vitamins for your soul, especially because of Merrick," said Samantha, with a gentle voice.

 

"Nah, I'm good. I chose sex. I dropped out. It was my choice. I'm happy," said Ursula, pointing to herself, in all of the spirit of self-sufficiency and arrogance. She looked at the billboard and said, "I know I just need to work hard. Everything will come together. It wasn't my fault, but I also don't want to blame other people for choosing to have sex with him. I was the dumb girl and got tricked. I need to work my ass off now!"

 

"So, that's how Melody got captain so early," said Angelina. "Her brother pushed you out."

 

"She always had it in for me. She was always jealous for Merrick's attention. And me, being out of the relationship and the team, was like a gift to her. Merrick wanted her as captain, so everyone just agreed," I answered, with a shoulders shrug.

 

"You're a great dancer, Ursula. Were you a tumbler, too?" asked Angelina, changing the subject. "I was a flier," I answered. "I use to choreograph some of the numbers for homecoming and dance routines. I was good as a tumbler."

 

"You're extremely talented," said Angelina. "I was a flier, too."

 

"But, it all don't mean a thing now. I've got to work, honey," I said. I took the billboard, and turned around. I held the billboard in front of me and high kicked to the side. "Independence! It's bliss."

 

"Ursula, can we be your friends?" asked Samantha, in compassion.

 

I stopped for a minute, and stared at Samantha and Angelina for a moment, and asked, "Why? Because you feel sorry for me?"

 

"Because we care for you. We really do," said Angelina, "Please?"

 

"I don't want to report, if that's what you want in the future," I said, because I wanted to remain anonymous.

 

"It's not that," said Angelina. She looked towards Samantha for a second, and Samantha nodded an almost secret agreement between the two best friends.

 

"We can be your allies and help," said Samantha.

 

I turned around to face the street with indolent eyes, as cars were passing by. I looked down to the ground holding the billboard sign, and decided to reach for my cell phone.

 

"What's your cell number? I get these pre-paid cell phones, and I can use it sometimes in case I need to talk to someone. I use it mostly for crisis," I told them the truth.

 

"Thank you, Ursula. We want to be friends with you," said Samantha, wiping her tears away. Samantha pushed the buttons on her phone, as I gave her my number and my cell phone rang.

 

"Saved," I said. "I have three numbers in my cell now. Well, besides my mom's, crisis line, the grocery store and Jake's Pizza. Five numbers! Check that out!"

 

"We'll keep in touch. Are you going to stay here for long?" asked Angelina.

 

"I have to be here till noon, then I go to the store. It's a day job," I said.

 

"You're a good girl, Ursula," said Angelina. "We'll hang out more sometime."

 

"Most definitely," I said. "Remember, don't let him beat you down."

 

Tears gathered in Angelina's eyes as they rolled down her cheeks. Inside me, were words that spoke to me, as if a spirit was inside my chest, I feel beaten, Ursula. Perhaps that was what Angelina felt right now, and I felt the same, but I won't acknowledge it. I won't let Merrick drive me to a crazy house.

 

"I want you to give us a call when you're alone, or hurt, or sad, or for any reason," said Samantha.

 

"For ANY reason, give us a call," said Angelina. "Especially when you're hurting. Even text us."

 

"How did you guys get this sweet?" I asked. Their kind gesture was fresh air for my morning. "Oh, I know. You're both princesses, from Longmont with your rich family, rich houses, and rich futures." My right fingertips in the air with my eyes blinking in humor, teasing them.

 

"No, not true. I'm not rich. My Dad works at China 2000," said Angelina, giggling from Ursula's animation.

 

"What's China 2000?" I asked, almost breaking into a laugh.

 

"It's a Chinese fast food place in Silver Creek. They have good food! Szechuan style," said Samantha, wiggling her body, because she loves Chinese food.

 

"Oh boy," I said. "Well, anytime you guys want Jake's Pizza, I'm your girl."

 

"We'll take you up on that," said Samantha, both thumbs up.

 

"All right, you kids stay safe," I said. 

    

"Let's go bowling after your shift ends at six this evening," said Angelina, hugging me.

 

I almost cried to pieces, and said, "Well, give me a piece of meat, because I have friends! I can't believe it. Nobody ever invited me to anything, even in high school!"

 

Angelina and Samantha laughed out loud.

 

***

 

I sat down on the sidewalk in front of Memory Lanes in my black slacks and grocery store polo, because I didn't have time to change.

 

"Hi, Ursula," yelled Samantha from the parking lot, with her opened window from her SUV. Samantha parked her car on the first row of the parking spaces in front of Memory Lanes.

 

I smiled and waited for the girls to walk towards me. As they both hugged me, Angelina said, "I'm glad you came, I'm happy to see you for fun now."

 

"I'm so happy you girls came," I said. "I thought I was going to be stood up."

 

"Oh, we would never turn you down. You're awesome!" said Samantha.

 

"I've been stood up before," I said. "It's common for someone like me. I think people don't respect me."

 

"You're someone great. And we want to be here," said Angelina.  

     

"Ursula, you deserve respect," said Samantha.

 

"I've just been working my jobs that I don't have friends anymore. So, this is good," I said.

 

"Let's go in. I've never been here before," said Angelina, pumping up her energy for bowling.

 

Families and bowling leagues filled Memory Lanes to the last rows of lanes on a Saturday evening.

 

"Let's do two games and we can go from there?" said Angelina, as she walked to the shoe-rental cashier.

 

"Oh yeah, the first game is warm up for me," said Samantha. "I've bowled once before, but I'm so damn good. Trust me."

 

I laughed out loud. "I'm not a good bowler, but I used to bowl with Merrick, a long time ago," I said.

 

"Oh, you must be much better than me," said Angelina. "I'll get some fries, with Diet Cokes? Pepsi?"

 

"Pepsi, for me," I said. "I can pay my own. Don't worry."

 

"We wanted to take you out, Ursula. Let us treat you. You've been so kind to share with us your life. We were just random girls you barely knew, and you trusted us," said Angelina. "We just want to love you."

 

Samantha gave me a huge hug as Angelina walked towards the bar area where she ordered the bucket of fries and two Diet-Cokes and a Pepsi.

 

"I'm surprised you don't have anyone, Ursula," said Samantha. "Was it because of what happened?"

 

"Well, I lost everyone after Merrick broke it off, and I just didn't feel right calling the other cheerleaders. They were mostly Merrick's fans, and I know they all voted for Melody to get into the team without me," I said. "All of the cheers were all into Merrick, too. I was seen as the poor girl with no future without Merrick."

 

"Exclusion is rough. Did you feel isolated?" asked Samantha. "I know Angelina was excluded by the team. She would feel isolated if I'm not here."

 

"I don't care about them anymore," I said.

 

"Exclusion is a form of bullying, so you don't want to be around them. They're not healthy. Sometimes bullying is a form of secondary victimization often after a rape victim shares her experience or if somehow other people knew about the rape," said Samantha.

 

The shoe rental attendant gave Samantha our shoes and Samantha gave me my pair. Samantha took the bill and I looked to her with a slight smile, because for once, someone was generous to me and wanted to explain what the truth was to me.

 

I never knew any of the victimization concepts without someone as generous as Samantha and Angelina. I felt I had knowledge, privilege and information that was more valuable as a woman. It was street smarts, education, and enlightenment to me. For once, I felt cared for.

 

"You're so sweet, Samantha," I said. "You didn't have to get the bill."

 

"No worries. Angelina and I wanted to pay for you," said Samantha. "I'm a friend, Ursula. You have us and don't be embarrassed about being homeless."

 

I stood still, grateful and humbled.

 

"I know, doesn't it feel good?" said Samantha, smiling from ear to ear. "You know, it's not that hard to be nice to people. I just think that violence could be diffused with just some awareness. Just know, that what's unkind will hurt. So, I just try to love, even with my own reservations on others, or certain religions, or backgrounds, or even through my own judgements…to just be kind and love everyone. Ursula, I don't want you to have sex with a man in the future and think it is love. Love is not sex, and sex is not love."

 

"Did you tell Merrick how you felt after he broke it off?" asked Angelina, walking back with a tray of large curly fries, two Diet Cokes and a Pepsi in her hand. We walked to the end lane, to pick out our shoes and bowling balls.

 

"I told Merrick I was really hurt by what happened that night. But, he convinced me that it was mutual. He was right, I didn't say no," I said. "He even taped me saying it."

 

"Let's get some neon bowling balls," said Angelina. "Taped you, huh?"

 

Samantha came back with a hot pink ten pounder ball, and was ready to set the standard for the lane.

 

"Okay, I want to be second. So, I get to feel the energy," said Samantha.

 

"What energy?" I asked, confused.

 

"The bowling energy, there is an art to it," said Samantha, rolling her shoulders, warming-up.

 

"She thinks there is energy to everything," said Angelina, almost cracking up. "She thinks Target and Walmart have different energy and she hunts for certain items for herself only at those two stores because each item has different energy….and,..."

 

"Shut up!" said Samantha. "Trust me, just trust me. Even bowling, there is an energy to it."

 

"I see. I'll be first. If you don't mind, Angel," I said. "I wonder what my 'energy' is."

 

I bowled the way Merrick taught me, with full force and a straight arm while twisting the 12 pounder just a soft bit. It hit a strike. Angelina and Samantha looked at each other, and they started giggling. "Not a good bowler I see," said Angelina, laughing.

 

"You have 'Turbo' energy," said Samantha with a laugh. Samantha was next and landed a gutter ball. She raised her arms and told her, "I'm still aiming high. I don't care what that ball did. I'm relentless," said Samantha. "It's all about perception. I'm just good at not hitting anything!"

 

Angelina also landed a gutter ball, and started laughing. Witnessing these girls have so much fun landing gutter balls, I couldn't help but to start laughing with them.

 

I never fathomed the idea of friendship blossoming, especially after Merrick. I never knew a Sunday could be fun, and of all the things, it was with two girls from the high school where I was once an outcast. Sometimes when good things happened, I could only enjoy the moment. I felt the sensation to just live, breathe, and love.

 

"Hey, girls, I need to ask you something," I said, suddenly.

 

"Yeah, go ahead," said Angelina.

 

"Is it some bowling terms? Because you already know the answer," said Samantha.

 

I smiled for a moment, and asked, "It's something a little more serious. Why did you guys come to me? That night at the grocery store."

 

"What do you mean?" said Samantha. Angelina bowled her turn, as her face grew stern.

 

"Well, I wanted to meet you because of Maria," said Samantha.

 

"What was the real reason?" I asked.

 

"I needed your help because I didn't know what happened to me," said Angelina.

 

Angelina was transparent, and told the truth.

 

"I was going to ask you to help with the report," said Angelina, honestly.

 

"I see," I said. "That's what I want to talk about."

 

"Yeah, I got it. What do you feel, Ursula?" asked Samantha. "Be honest. I don't want you to suffer again. I know it was a life changing experience, two years ago."

 

"I don't want to report," I confided. It was too much for me to handle, on top of being homeless.

 

"Can you explain? So, I will understand?" Angelina asked.

 

"I hope it was okay for us to meet you. I am so sorry, it was my idea to go find you," said Samantha.

 

"I'm happy you found me. I want to be friends with you," I said, tears flushing from my eyes. "I just can't report because I'm struggling. I'm struggling so bad, that I work two jobs to make ends meet, and I know I have mental illness."

 

"We understand," said Angelina. The bowling was on hold for a moment, to let the conversation explained my situation.

 

"When I was kicked out and went homeless. I just didn't want to live anymore, and I didn't want to ask anyone for help. It was really embarrassing. I tried to talk to Merrick, but he thinks I'm a whore. I felt like a dirty tampon that people throw away," I said.

 

"Tell us," said Angelina, accepting my brokenness and letting me vocalize my thoughts.

 

"I just feel like garbage next to Merrick. He's everything I wanted. When he asked me out, I felt like a princess, and I've never been a princess. I grew up so poor on welfare and my Mom, she has her issues, and so did my Dad. So, I pretty much took care of myself," I said. "I was so lucky to meet Merrick. He had a lot of appetite for sex, but that's how he shows his love for me. I just didn't think he would be rough with me that night. That's all. It wasn't all the time, just sometimes, and I never said no, because if I said no, he might go away."

 

"You're not trash, first of all," said Angelina. "You shouldn't feel ashamed about giving in to Merrick. It happens to a lot of women. We often get the physical and emotional and spiritual confused. It was a gut feeling that wasn't explained well to us as a woman."

 

"We're royalty, Ursula. We have the physical quality as gods, and those who are born with less, are still spiritually in the same quality level as gods. It doesn't matter what type of background we grew up in. Women deserve to be treated as royalty, like princesses and queens. We deserve to be treated well," said Samantha. "Merrick is lucky he had you as a girlfriend. He's not good enough for you. He had money, I understand, but money doesn't explain his behavior. His heart and his mind explained it, and those qualities were not from a good heart nor a good mind."

 

"I can't report because I know I'll be in more trouble," I said, as my sobbing worsened. "What if they found him not guilty? Then, I have to live with the record that I'm a rape victim? I'm a runaway, and I was homeless. People don't believe runaways or poor girls, homeless people, especially homeless teens. I'm not credible. People will think I'm a waste of society."

 

"We understand. We don't want you to feel more pain, Ursula," said Samantha, holding my hands.

 

"You don't have to do anything. We can just hang out. Is that okay?" asked Angelina, holding my shoulder.

 

"I know people think I'm the whore who slept with Merrick. That I deserve to feel this way, but...," I said, sobbing. "It is so hard to play this part. I don't think it's fair for me. I am beaten by the world. Somehow, I felt so lucky that Merrick was handsome and rich and wanted me. Even if it was for sex. I still felt lucky."

 

"Ursula, may I say something," said Samantha, sitting on the floor, holding on to my calves. "Ursula, we're entitled to respect, safety, security, justice, freedom, health and love. What he did was inhumane, do you understand? He treated you like an object, some kind of candy that can be thrown away, but humans shouldn't be thrown away. We all deserve the opportunity to grow, to live, to have the pursuit of happiness and the chance to have a good life."

 

I looked to Samantha for a moment and nodded in affirmation.

 

"You too, Angelina, never stoop to their level, and think that it was you, who should be blamed for their crime. There are a lot of people who would abuse others. The Johnsons were abusive. What they did was wrong, and who knows what else they do behind our backs," said Samantha, still holding my calves. "You're not a waste to society. You're working hard, Ursula. It is our human right to be treated kindly, to never be harmed, and to never be raped, to never be swindled, or sabotaged, abused, harassed, or stalked. That's part of being human, having human rights."

 

"I just think it was my fault," said Ursula. "I didn't say no. Then, that means I said 'okay'."

 

"You don't have to feel ashamed because you gave in during sex," said Angelina. "I was at a party too and I feel like it's my fault because I drank, but it wasn't. You're not at fault, Ursula. Even if you were having sex with him. You gave in because of fear. You didn't have the sexual relationship with him because there was a healthy mutual agreement, it was based on force and violence. It was a domestic violence relationship. It was what it was."

 

"He still didn't have the right to rape you. Ursula, what he did was a violation against your right. Even if you gave him consent to have sex with you every day. Do you know how many wives are beaten and raped by their husbands? Those wives gave them consent to sex, but they are still being violated," said Samantha. "I don't want my girls to think that they're garbage because some guy hurt them, and made them feel bad. I don't want that. I don't want the enemies to win. I want us to win. I think they should be in jail." Samantha pointed her finger to the ground, to finalize her statement.

 

"I know, but I can't relive that episode of my life. I'm so sorry," I said, afraid the girls will keep pressuring me to report the crime. "I just can't report. Please understand. Please..." I covered my eyes and sobbed.

 

"No worries. I'm not here to tell you to report. We wanted to meet you, because all these times, we think Melody and Merrick were like gods," said Samantha. "I thought they were so beautiful. But, the truth is, they're criminals."

 

"I trusted them so much, Ursula. I didn't anticipate any of the things that happened to me," said Angelina.

 

"I went through so much, and I don't have anyone right now. If my Mom found out that I was raped, she will never let me visit my sister again," I said. "She's the only family I have. I can't be so alone that even my family won't see me. I can't function. I just can't."

 

"We understand. We don't want you to feel alone," said Angelina. "Can you keep in touch with us? I'd like to keep in touch."

 

"Me too," said Samantha. Samantha gave me another bear hug, as I cried inside her arms.

 

"Merrick was my first," I said. "He was my first everything. My first kiss, my first sex, and my first heartbreak. I haven't met anyone since. I am so scared because I was told that rape victims don't get married."

 

"You take your time," said Angelina. "I didn't know what happened to me, Ursula. I was drugged, baby. We were hurt."

 

"We'll keep you in our hearts, Ursula. You're a baby still. We're still so young," said Samantha, taking some of the napkins from the food tray and giving them to me.

 

"Yeah. I figure I can fix it with time," I said, wiping my nose with the napkins.

 

"Yes, you can," said Angelina. "I'm getting therapy, and on medicine right now."

 

"I'm not on anything. I just don't have that kind of money. But, I have the crisis line," I said.

 

"You don't have benefits?" asked Samantha.

 

"No, it's just part time and I work at Jake's part time too. It's been hard. I'll try to get full time at the grocery store," I said. "I need to ask them today. I can't afford insurance on my own."

 

"You call us whenever you want, Ursula," said Samantha. "You can get Affordable Health Care through the State or Medicaid."

I nodded and said, "Thank you for understanding." Samantha and Angelina sat next to me, letting me call the situation on what I wanted to do next.  

 

"Let's bowl ladies," I said, shaking my head to get ready to strike a Turkey with my neon ball for the next turn.

 

 

 

Chapter 29 – Angelina

 

My cell phone vibrated and rang underneath my blanket as I searched for it with my eyes closed. It was still dark outside and the windows were still shut in my bedroom.

 

"You have an emergency?" I asked, groggy and yawning, under the covers.

 

"No, but I'm picking you up in 15 minutes. We're going for a hike!" said Ichabod, on the phone.

 

"NOW?!" I said, waking up to a surprise.

 

"Yes! Yes! YES!!! Wake up! Wake up!" said Ichabod, as he hung up the phone immediately.

 

I rolled to my side and fell on the floor with my blanket over me.

 

Ichabod arrived at my door in his cargo shorts and a t-shirt. My hair was still messy and uncombed as I tried to straighten out my compression shorts that I put on too quickly.

 

"Hey, you got here really quick," I said. I pulled my hair back in a pony-tail and put on sunscreen on my face. I yawned but was awake enough to show Ichabod the inside of our apartment.

 

"Come in. Meet my Dad for a minute," I said, walking to the kitchen to prepare some oatmeal and milk.

 

"I have some sports bars. Can we eat in the car?" asked Ichabod. "I want to get there early before the sunshine hits."

 

"Okay," I said, turning to Ichabod. I saw my Dad near the kitchen with his messy hair, scratching his leg and yawning because it was 5 a.m in the morning. "Papa, this is Ichabod, my friend from school."

 

"Hi, Ichabod. Funny name for a boy," said my Dad, Tom.

 

Ichabod laughed, and waved to say hello. "Thanks, it's a happy name," he said.

 

"Funny response," said Tom, staring at Ichabod.

 

"We're going to the Royal Arch," said Ichabod.

 

"Where is that?" asks Angelina.

 

"Boulder, Chautauqua Park. Not too far," said Ichabod. "Do you have a water bottle? Fill it up and we'll bring it for the hike. I have some snacks for us."

 

"I have one," I said, filling up the water bottle with tap water and ice from the fridge.

 

"Nice meeting you, Mister Lee," said Ichabod, walking out of the townhome.

 

"See you soon, Papa. I got the celly," I said.

 

"Don't break a bone," my Dad said. He locked the door.

 

"I guess Ichabod is a funny name for anyone," I said. Ichabod laughed.

 

 

A young man was walking his golden retriever up the mountain, with his backpack leading his dog on the leash. Ichabod parked his car in the parking lot in front of the ranger station. Baseline path was mainly dirt and rocks, with the steep walk that might be rigorous for anyone without the fond for cardio exercise.

 

"Wow, haven't climbed this path in a while," I said with a slight huff and puff on the way up the mountain, nearing the first large rock.

 

Ichabod looked like he didn't break a sweat. I breathed out from annoyance, because since I quit cheer, my stamina dwindled to normal. We were in silence as if Ichabod was walking in meditation and prayers. We reached the first resting stop with the sign that said "no leaning" nailed on wooden railings behind the shrubs and trees.

 

"I can't believe hiking is so hard right now," I said.

 

"We're almost near Bluebell, just another quarter of a mile," said Ichabod. He sucked out a little water from his Camelbak tubing. "Drink your water."

 

"Yeah," I said, drinking the water from her bottle.

 

Ichabod gently took my left hand and walked with me up the mountain.

 

Ichabod stopped to look at me, and said, "Close your eyes for a minute." I closed my eyes and he asked me, "May I kiss you?"

 

I smiled, and answered, "Yes."

 

Ichabod kissed me on my lips, a small supple kiss.

 

"Thank god, I brushed my teeth this morning," I said.

 

"Thank goodness, because I won't get over it," said Ichabod.

 

I smiled and leaned into his chest, taller over me as he hugged me inside his shoulders. I felt attraction, chemistry and a magical connection by a tragedy that we won't ever understand. 

         

"Do you think about your future often?" asked Ichabod.

 

"Yes. I'm just so afraid," I said. "I don't know how to handle the simplest things now. I cry so much. I'm taking medicine to help me with it. So that helps."

 

"I'm proud that you're taking your medicine every day," said Ichabod. "Let's go this way. This first part is just rocks and a lot of bouldering over them. Don't look down if you're afraid of heights, just look forward and keep talking to me."

 

I faced forward with Ichabod leading the way, and I was ready for more adventure.

 

The morning was perfect for a hike, with a slight chill that cooled the skin, as we burned some energy for the exercise.

 

"Can I ask you another question?" asked Ichabod.

 

"Go ahead,"

 

"Do you know what you want in life?"

 

"I know I've been hurt, and I've thought about that the other day. I just want to do my life well."

 

"What if you make a mistake? I mean, not that you will, but you've gone through a major tragedy. Not everything is perfect," asked Ichabod.

 

"Well, the way I see it. I have more room to grow with doing everything right than doing something wrong. One can attempt for perfection, right?" I said. "I don't want to make any more mistakes from now on."

 

The rocks became larger and steeper, with less dirt and more bouldering, requiring more agility and the indomitable will to keep going.

 

"Let's rest for a minute," Ichabod said, as he looked up to the sky.  He sat on a huge rock on top of a path with Angelina near the bottom of the rock on the dirt. "Climb up here, sit with me."

 

We sat together, enjoying the warblers chirping and the soft crisp breeze of the morning air in Boulder.

 

"I just worry sometimes," said Ichabod. "I worry about "perfection."

 

"Why?" I asked. "If I aim for perfect, then nothing can go wrong."

 

"I don't want you feel horrible, if you don't become perfect again,"

 

"I don't understand."

 

"I don't want you to have so much pressure that it hurts you."

 

"That's wise of you."

 

"Angel, I know something," said Ichabod, with his eyes tearing. "I'm odd."

 

"You're cute, Ichabod. Not odd," I said, looking to the skyline above Chautauqua Park.

 

"Cute, not hot?" joked Ichabod. I grinned.

 

"Okay, hot," I said, slapping his arm.

 

"I like cute better," Ichabod said. He kissed my forehead as I leaned into his chest and hugged him. "I sometimes have episodes."

 

"What do you mean? The same episodes I get? The crying spells?" I asked.

 

"No, it's hard to explain," said Ichabod. He looked ahead to where the large Ponderosa Pines soared high towards the sky, the natural ambiance of Colorado. "I have seven senses."

 

"What do you mean? Like a mutant?" I asked.

 

His eyes flooded with tears, as I held him, sinking into the deep sensory of love blooming.

 

"No, not a mutant. I get visions and prophecies."

 

"What kind of visions?"

 

"Of angels."

 

"Like deities?"

 

"Yes. I can sense things, and sometimes I can feel particular events before it happens," said Ichabod. "So often times, they're tragedies or just..."

 

"Horrible things?" I asked, trying to understand him.

 

"Yes, but you can't tell anyone. You're the second person that I saw in my visions," said Ichabod. "The first was Leona, and I saved her life. Then, you came."

 

"You saw the rape? Is that what you're telling me?" I asked, my voice broke apart as I looked into his eyes intensely.

 

"Those angels I see are my guardians," said Ichabod, as he suddenly stood stiff and nodded. He breathed in and stepped in front of me.

 

"What? Oh, the angels, are your guardians. That's great, what's wrong?"

 

"One of them is here right now," said Ichabod.

 

"Oh, that's a good thing. Is he loving?"

 

"Yes, they're loving, they're protecting us."

 

"That makes me feel better."

 

"It does?"

 

"Of course, it does. I know some things happen for a reason. For instance, my name, Angelina, and how you just told me that you can see angels. It's a good sign. A divine sign."

 

"I'm imperfect," said Ichabod. "I have to tell you that. They're telling me what to say to you."

 

"What else did they say to you?" 

 

"Angel, you should embrace life, one day at a time," said Ichabod.

 

Ichabod finally exhaled and faced to the ground and placed his hands on his knees as if he was feeling an emotional relief.  

 

"Is this because you're imperfect?" I asked.

 

"Allow some flexibility. I don't want you to be perfect, that you criticize yourself," said Ichabod.

 

"Tell me what you saw about me in your visions," I asked, finally realizing that Ichabod could see divination, to save lives and souls, to help and to heal. Perhaps he was my Angel and I was his.

 

"I felt the attacks in my body, when you were being hurt," said Ichabod. "I was there, at Creekside Hospital. You drove there yourself."

 

"You saw me there? Did you know who I was?"

 

"No, but I was there because I felt the physical pain from the rape."

 

"I wasn't sure what to do. I was bleeding and I woke up inside a room in Melody's house," I said.

 

"I saw Merrick and his fraternity brothers hurting you," said Ichabod. We began to walk towards a rock and bouldered over it.

 

"I want to tell Officer Fineman. Can you tell him this?" I asked him.

 

"I think I can identify them, but I don't really remember them clearly. I know there were other men with him."

 

"We have to tell Officer Fineman," I said, reaching for my cell phone in my pocket.

 

"Fineman," The Officer answered his cell phone.

 

"Officer, my friend would like to meet you today. We have to meet you today. It's about the rape," I said.

 

"Well, I'm in the station right now, if you want to...," he says, "Hello?"

 

We immediately returned to the parking lot, to meet Officer Fineman

 

 

We ran inside the police station, and saw the officer sipping his coffee.

 

"Good morning," said the officer, startled.

 

"Officer, sorry to just show up. I want to add to my statement," I said, slightly out of breath. "This is Ichabod, he has something to say."

 

I pulled Ichabod to face the officer, but his eyes bulged out of fear from him.

 

"I had a dream about the rape and Merrick raped her with three other men at the party," Ichabod blurted out quickly, then stood with his back against the door, as if he wanted to escape from the room.

 

"A dream? Angelina is this your added statement?" asked the officer, with one eyebrow up.

 

"You can't discount karma!" I said, a little loudly than usual. "Ichabod's telling the truth. There were three other men. Ichabod had visions of them, and we ended up at the same hospital."

 

"I have a lead, but how many people were there, son?" asked the officer, rubbing his forehead.

 

 "I think there were three, but I saw two clearly, Merrick and another friend or his, Cliff," Ichabod said, leaning against the door, staring at Officer Fineman's badge.

 

"That's fine son, I will add it on, but I really couldn't do a thing because of who they are," said the officer. "There is no real evidence. I can't investigate them based on a dream."

 

"I didn't lie," Ichabod said.

 

"Officer, we're going to work on the fraternity men and see if we can some kind of evidence," I said.

 

Ichabod looked to me, and said, "Yes, I think we can get some evidence."  

     

"I understand. I'll just...wait for time," said Officer Fineman.

 

"Thank you, officer, sorry to bother you this morning," I said.

 

"Thank you, sir," said Ichabod, opening the door, anxious to walk out.

 

"No problem," said Officer Fineman walking the two teens out of his office.

 

Ichabod practically ran outside of the Silver Creek Police Department.

 

"Angel, I don't want you to think I'm some kind of nut. Don't tell anyone about what I told you at Royal Arch. Please?" pleaded Ichabod.

 

"No worries. I'm happy I'm not the only one feeling critical about this. They want something to control over. I wonder what they wanted from me?" I said. "I think Officer Fineman needs something tangible for him to hear or see to make an arrest."

 

"Well, I want to invite you to Leona's house on tomorrow. She wanted to know if you'd agree to a healing therapy bath," said Ichabod. "I will talk to the Fantasy Club. I have something planned."

 

"Yes, on the healing bath. I trust her. Should I invite my dad?" I asked.

 

"Yes, he needs to be there," said Ichabod. "Let's get out of this Police Department neighborhood. It gives me the creeps."

 

 

 

Chapter 30 – Ichabod

 

 

The football team stood around the same table at the southeast corner of the cafeteria. Melody was sitting on the table, in her short-pleated skirt, straddling Collin between her legs.

 

"You're so hot," said Melody. She kissed him passionately, as he held her around her waist and inserting his tongue inside her mouth.

 

I waited in line to pay for a box of pizza, but couldn't help to glance at the new couple, tongue twisting in public. I reached the front of the line and walked to the exit door, but stopped behind the wall, to peek at Collin and Melody, silently.

 

I watched for every expression on Collin's face. I wiped my tears, as I saw him smile. The smile that still swooned Angelina before the rape. Collin high fived his team mates after he was done kissing Melody, as Melody puts on her lip gloss, and brushed her hair.

 

A bittersweet emotion overtook me as I now won't care for Merrick, Melody or Collin because Angelina was my girl. Tears pour out as I walked upstairs to meet Samantha, Angelina, and Sunjit.

 

"I have good news," said Angelina when I got there with my tuna sandwich.

 

"Yeah? Tell us," said Samantha, biting into her grilled cheese.

 

"Melody has herpes?" asked Sunjit, jokingly. Samantha threw a napkin at Sunjit.

 

"No, it's not about Melody. It's about me," said Angelina. "I forgive them all."

 

Sunjit, Samantha, and I were baffled as our jaws met the floor.

 

"Did they say sorry to you?" I asked.

 

"I want Collin to be happy," said Angelina. "Maybe the break up was as sign for me, that he wasn't perfect for me."

 

"Maybe, you're not meant for him," said Samantha.

 

I smiled, because Angelina's loving and forgiving heart was auspicious of a peaceful future in her life.

 

"You have a pure heart, Angelina," said Sunjit. "It's like seeing strawberries in my yogurt, that's how sweet it feels." Sunjit spooned a pink dollop of strawberry yogurt into his mouth.

 

I saw a wooden staff behind Angelina, as Archangel Raphael stood behind her, listening to her decision to forgive all of her enemies.

 

"I don't want to blame Collin for the rape, because he never hurt me. I don't want to know Melody and Merrick, although I felt they had something to do with the rape," said Angelina. "I don't want to look back fifty years from now, and still hate them. I want to get over it. I'm just going to release all these hate out of me. Take it away from me! Be gone!"

 

Archangel Raphael took his wooden staff and raised it over Angelina. A light puff of smoke lifted out of Angelina's soul. Then as Raphael swayed it away, Angelina opened her eyes in surprise.

 

"Wow, I felt a huge burden lifted off me," said Angelina. "I really felt something come out of me. Wow."

        

I saw Raphael smiled at me and I nodded as he disappeared.

        

Angelina said, "I forgive them for being criminals."

        

"Angelina, you really surprised me," said Samantha.

        

"Forgiveness is a healthy gesture, my friend," said Sunjit. He reached for Angelina to give her a hug. "I know it was hard, but you sure showed me who you are."

        

Tiny bursts of freshness sent a smile to my face. "You really did forgive them," I said, as I felt a sensation of peace over me.

        

"It's not that hard, the forgiveness. I just want Collin to be happy, that's all," said Angelina. "Besides, I'm happy I have someone, too." Angelina smiles at me, and I sat closer to her, wrapping my legs around her, hugging her whole body from behind.

        

"Samantha, I want you to go to prom," said Angelina.

        

"I know, I'm just scared. I don't want to feel so odd in a dress when I've been wearing jeans for my entire life now," said Samantha.

        

"We can wear jeans together," said Sunjit. "We can wear jeans to prom! Who cares about the attire?"

 

Samantha looked to Sunjit, as his eyes longed for her.

 

"I'm still thinking about it, Sunjit," said Samantha. "But, we won't be wearing jeans."

 

Sunjit looked down at his pizza, and replied, "I'll wait for you. Take as long as you need, baby."

 

***

 

The stroll to Leona's cottage around the corner was short and brisk, under the evening moon after dinner. Leona prepared her living room for the ceremony, moving her furniture aside, closer to the walls creating more space in her living room to become the meditation area. Her cottage was dainty with scented candles everywhere, matching furniture and beautiful paintings of Colorado on every wall in every room. The smell of jasmine emanated throughout her house.

 

"Are these from your garden?" my Mom asked, referring to the yellow roses on a side table next to her couches.

 

"They are. Lovely aren't they?" said Leona.

 

"So, Tom is coming," I told Leona.

 

"I will be here, with you," said Archangel Michael to Leona. I smiled, but didn't say a word to Leona.

 

"Who's Tom? And who is this angel I felt near me," asked Leona. She took a few of her candles from the dining room to surround the living room, placing them on the side tables, the coffee table, and the mantle above the fireplace. "Please be kind." Leona looked into Michael's eyes, as if she knew him in a prior time. 

 

"Tom is Angel's father," my Mom said. "I haven't met him yet, either, but he needs to be a part of this. He's a secondary survivor and he needs as much support as she does."

 

"I agree," said Leona. "I'm getting the teapots for the ceremony."

 

The doorbell rang, and my Mom opened it to let Tom and Angelina inside.

 

"Hi, Ichabod," said Tom. I gave him a hug, although he didn't expect the hug. He patted me on my back, as I hugged him around his stomach.

 

Tom laughed, and said to me, "Your parents must be so affectionate."

 

"I am," said my Mom, reaching for a handshake. In surprise, Tom shook her hand, and was mesmerized by her beautiful face.

 

"Pleased to meet you. You're so pretty. I mean….thank you for inviting me," said Tom.

 

"Oh, it was Leona's idea," said my Mom. Leona came into the living room from her kitchen, with a silver tray of two clear teapots.

 

"It was my idea," said Leona, placing the silver tray on the coffee table. "Leona. I'm Ichabod's adopted aunt."

 

"Tom. Angelina's father," said Tom, still smiling, and staring at her.

 

Archangel Michael stood in between Tom and Leona, and suddenly took Tom's head and directed it to my Mom. Tom smiled and so did my Mom.

 

"I'll show Angel around the house," my Mom said. "Tom, please come."

 

"My pleasure," said Tom. "I like Ichabod. Thank you for doing all this for Angel."

 

"I've had my suffering. She makes me feel important and I'm happy to help. Victims of violence needs all the support we need," said Leona.

 

After the short walk around the garden outside, Leona gathered everyone around the living room.

 

"Your house is so pretty, Leona," said Angelina.

 

"Thank you, Angelina, and you also need to know how beautiful you are, Angel," said Leona. She embraced Angelina with a hug. "Let's sit in a circle on the floor. Angel, you sit in the middle of the circle and I will give you directions as to what to do."

 

Leona turned off the lights in the living room. My Mom and I sat next to each other, and Tom sat a few distance away from us and Leona sat at the opposite end of the circle, all on the living room floor. The only source of light was from the candles around the room, dimming with serenity.

 

"Let's close our eyes and just breathe," said Leona. Everyone breathed in and out, slowly, gently, softly, sitting in silence, waiting for instructions from Leona. "Let's introduce ourselves and how you feel today. Angelina, please speak first, then we'll start with Jenni."

 

Angelina began to speak, "My name is Angelina Lee, and I have several emotions today. First, romantic because Ichabod took me hiking in Boulder yesterday and I was so happy that he kissed me."  

 

Tom's eyes opened wide to look at me, but I smiled at him as Tom closed his eyes again and shook his head.

 

"I also feel scared that I am going to high school with a long list of things that I have to be careful for and to be fearful of. I know there will be things that I can't handle. I feel that I can't look forward to the future, as bright as it used to be."

 

The outer circle sat in silence, as Angelina took a moment to breathe. She sat in the middle with comfort and safety, but tears mounted up, and she began to cry from her own thoughts of what she was about to say to everyone.

 

All eyes were closed, and everyone sat comfortably and at ease, accepting Angelina and her emotions at this time.

 

Angelina began to speak again, and said, "I feel betrayed. I think they planned all of the things that happened to me. I feel like a guinea pig. An experiment. Where they get to violate me for a purpose, and I have to live with the suffering from their abuse. I think it's unfair, sadistic, and prejudice of them to pick me, out of no reason at all. I've never hurt them, and I will never hurt anyone."

 

Angelina was in tears, but she slowly breathed in. "I deserve justice. I think they deserve punishment. I hate myself, and what I have to endure. I am scared that I will hurt myself, and can't cope with my own life. I am so young, but I feel like I will not be able to enjoy my youth, because I have rape trauma, or Post -Traumatic-Disorder now. I feel so damaged."

 

"Everyone, how do you feel about Angelina as a human being?" asked Leona.

 

"I love you," said my Mom, Jenni.

 

"I loved going hiking with you," I said. "I want to know you more and more, Angel."

 

The tears poured out, as everyone was ready to utter positive words of encouragement.

 

"I will protect you and back you up, Angel," said Tom.

 

"I think you are beautiful girl, Angel," said Leona. "You have a whole lifetime and endless opportunity on your side. God is on your side. You are in the right."

 

Compassion filled the room, and the energy that exuded from the Circle of Love was of acceptance and support, although no one hugged Angelina, but the energy in the room was a capsule of love towards her.

 

"Jenni, Ichabod, and Tom, in that order, please say how you love Angelina, and describe how you feel about her statement," said Leona.

 

"Angelina, I met you at the hospital. I know you didn't know it at the time, because you were unconscious. I loved you from the start. No reasons for the love, it was just is," said my Mom, Jenni. "I want you to heal nicely. I feel that we are here for a purpose for you. You are welcome here with me, Ichabod and Leona. We have to spend more time together."

 

"Angel, you are so beautiful, and I am so happy that I took the chance to kiss you this morning. I've wanted to kiss you since the night I saw you on the gurney at the hospital," I told her. "I know I'm not Collin. I will never be him. I am happy I am not Collin. I am happy, I am with you. I am proof for you, Angel, that although I am not as handsome or rich as Collin, I am capable to love you. Angel, and I don't want to lose you to sadness, or rape trauma or the loss of dignity that you feel. My emotion for you is growing stronger, and I don't want to lose to those negativities. I know you are brilliant, beautiful, loving and powerful. Nothing can keep you apart from love, and love will never be apart from you. Life is bright for you, and I want to see the future with you."

 

Tom opened his eyes for a moment, as he watched me wipe my tears.

 

"Tom, you take as long as you need," said Leona.

 

"Angel, I'm not used to this, and I've never done this before," said Tom. "But, I'm here for you. I love you, Angel, I am your family. I am your father who loves you with all of his heart. My heart was broken, the time you told me you were raped. But, I don't want you to feel that it was your fault. I don't blame you. I love you. I want you to be happy and successful. We will build our lives over again. I will keep sharpening your skills and logic, to help you through it. I want you to talk to me, the way you always have. I don't want you to be embarrassed to talk to me about anything, even dating and sex. I told you before that I will back you up, so I will. I love you Angel. You're all I have. You're my life, Angel. You make me feel so happy when you're happy."

 

I opened my eyes and saw Tom sobbed, and said, "I am so scared Angel, because I know things might be different with the rape trauma now, and I sometimes have fears of my own. But, I love you so much that the fear subsides. That's all I think about, how much I love you. You are my daughter, Angel and I can't lose you. I don't have anyone else in this world. Please don't ever feel that you need to hurt yourself, blame yourself, or think you are lesser than everyone else. I love you so much. I know I might be so busy and forget to say this sometimes, but sink this deep into your soul, and your mind. I love you, and I will never stop loving you. Nothing in this world can keep me away from holding you and carrying you in times of trouble. Never feel desperate or needy for love, because I have so much love for you. I want to make sure, that one day, you will be able to express and infuse so much love to others. The future is not the rape trauma. Our future is not the suffering. Our future is our skill, our intelligence, our hard work, our dedication, our love, and hope for each other. You and me, Angel. I'm always here for you."

        

The energy in the room was warm and powerful. Love exuded from each person cocooning Angelina through the Circle of Love. Leona sat silently, and focused on her turn to speak with her eyes still closed inside the circle.

 

"Angel, I know you feel that you are facing this by yourself sometimes. Everyone here is ready to be your loved ones. We are committed to be with you. We want to be your guardian angels. We can't do everything for you, but we will be here for you. In spirit, or on the phone, or in person. We don't want you to feel that you've lost your life. You've gained a lot of respect from us. You are our loved one, and you are precious in our eyes," said Leona.

 

There was an extra layer of strength surrounding the room from the supportive words. Everyone in the room accepted her, and respected her for who she was, despite what happened in the past.  

 

"I don't want to be bitter. I want to do everything right. I don't want to make another mistake, meeting wrong people, being abused by them. I'm scared because I have so many enemies, but I'm grateful that I have all of you in my life," said Angelina as she closed her eyes, and dipped her head low.

 

Leona stood up from the ground, and turned on the light. She walked to Angelina and led her out of the Circle of Love. "It is time for the healing bath. Everyone can stay here. I will take Angelina to give her the therapy bath. You can hug her and Tom can kiss her afterwards."

 

 

 

Chapter 31 – Angelina

 

Leona led me to the master bedroom, where there was a large bathtub with bubbles and warm water. "Let me make it warm for you. You can change and put on the towel first. I will massage your feet," said Leona.

 

I took off my clothes, to wrap the towel around my body. Leona's bedroom was connected to the bathroom, with a glass door shower next to a large bathtub and the marble counter vanity. Leona laid a large towel on the bathroom floor, and said, "Angel, lie down on this towel. I'm going to do some tapping."

 

I laid down on top of the towel, waiting for Leona. Leona came back with a small vial of lavender and mint oil. She took some of the oils and rubbed the bottom of my feet and pressured the sides of my big toes. She rubbed a little of it on my palm, and said, "Close your eyes. With every word I say, repeat after me. And if I breathe, you should also breathe. Inhaling all the air inside your lungs, through your nose, and breathing out through your mouth."

 

Leona began to speak, "My name is Angelina Lee, and I was raped," she said as I repeated after her. "I am, however, loved by my father and my family. I am important to them, and they love me, forever. From now on, no one is allowed to harm me, in any way, shape, or form."

 

I was open to the possibility of healing, and Leona gave this bath therapy to give a sense of purity and peace.  Leona tapped with her finger, five taps on my forehead, "I am a new person, and I am going to become a beautiful human being, and a gorgeous woman. I am capable. I am taking care of my life. I know that I can do all things through proper guidance and love."

 

Leona tapped on my temples on both sides, with her two forefingers with both hands. "I am not a product of any mistake, I am not the product of the assault. I am beautiful. And I am strong enough to know, that I can do anything through God who loves me. I will ask for help, when need be, and I will always produce love, not hate. I will overcome, because I am a conqueror. I am a warrior. I am beautifully made. I am an Angel. I am Angelina."

        

Leona rubbed the lavender and mint oil on my temples, and on my left and right upper chest, with both of her hands, and said, "I lost all of my will when the rapists took advantage of me. I won't blame myself for other people's judgments, crimes, or prejudices, because they also took advantage of my dignity. I am more precious than their crimes and I am brilliant in God's eyes." 

 

Leona breathed in and out, and I mimicked her. "I will stop analyzing my every move, instead trust on my skills that I have developed as I grow older to develop loving relationships, good communication, and self-control. I will not blame all outcomes of perils on me or others, instead to rationalize with my loved ones first, and ask my support group for help, when I feel lost and out of control. One day I will feel the absence of fear and doubt," said Leona as I mimicked her every wordsd. She rubbed some oil on my upper chest, and to the side of my waist, and as I spoke, she tapped on those spots, and breathed in an out.

        

Leona took my arms and lifted them to reveal a tender spot, a spot of trust and vulnerability, and asked me,   "May I tap on different spots on your body, Angelina?"

 

"Yes, you may," I said.

 

She tapped on the spot between my under-arms and her waist, and said, "Repeat after me, Angelina, I will be strong, and courageous with my life, forgiving myself and others when there are causes to forgive. Not letting anyone intimidate me or take advantage of me. I will verbalize my feelings and be honest about them. I will not be silent in expressing my love and my emotions, instead to let it out at the right time, for the right reasons. I will try my best to be genuine and loving. When anger strikes, I will breathe, and let the anger bubbles set aside for a moment, to calmly make my decisions."

 

Leona lifted my right arm, and tapped underneath my arm just above the towel mark, "I will try my best not to express anger physically, abusively or take advantage of anyone, or anything, to gain control. I understand my boundaries, and I will express it, because I have the human right to help myself. I do not want my boundaries to be crossed," Leona said, and she dabbed oil on her under-arms and waits and breathes in and out, as I followed her words and her breathing pattern.

 

Leona tapped the center of her belly button, and said, "I will respect myself most, and love myself first. I will be victorious, and I will succeed in life. I will release every worry during meditation, instead of letting negative thoughts consume me." I repeated after her, letting every word sink into my heart, and Leona said, "Angelina, we are letting little tingles of anti-oxidants perform neurogenesis inside your brain. Every word soothes the spirit and increases healing."

 

Leona tapped her gently with her fingers on her belly button and dabbed some oil and also on my palms.

 

Leona moved her tapping down to my left and right knees, and moved further down to the bottom of my left foot, right at the arch. Leona said, "I will count my happiness and positive decisions, as part of the plan for me. I will note every good move and write each one down if I need to. I will note my blessings each day, even the smallest details, like waking up in the morning in a good mood, or having the best ice tea in the world."

 

Leona stopped tapping to breathe in and out, and dabbed some lavender oil on my forehead and temples again. "I love myself. I am an Angel. I am Angelina Lee. And, I am perfectly made," said Leona, as I repeated her every poignant word to help myself.

 

"Angel, open your eyes," said Leona. I opened my eyes and sat upright, to face Leona with her mental health fully in serenity.

 

"Who is inside your soul?" Leona asked me, piercing deep into my eyes, as if searching for that light of truth.

 

"I am Angelina. I suppose an angel of love is inside of me," I answered.

 

"Angel, do you know what the upside of love is? It's benefits and rewards?" asked Leona.

 

"Companionship and care, that I won't be alone anymore," I said.

 

"Love makes you have more capacity to live, and the endurance to live. And the physical effects manifest inside your mind, body, and soul. The more you love, the more you will love your life," said Leona, infusing energy, and the drive to live with a good omen. "If you have LOVE inside you, you will never feel alone."

 

Leona began to cry, and said, "Hate breeds hate, Angelina. The more you hate, the more you hate living and everything in it. I want you, to feel love breeding inside your soul, because your brain will produce the right hormones, and will become happier. Love breeds love."

 

Leona took a small ceramic bowl from the bath counter, and pumped out half a cup of lotion into it, to mix it a half a cup of Epsom Salt, and some whole mint leaves she has in a jar to concoct the reflexology potion for Angelina to scrub onto her feet.

 

"Give me your feet," said Leona.

 

I sat on the floor, placing both of my feet in front of her. Leona scrubbed the potion and applied deep pressure on the center of her soles, then up and down from the top to the bottom of her soles. "Close your eyes and lay back down," said Leona.

 

I relaxed my body and felt the pressure from Leona's hands soothing her muscles. I breathed in an out, letting the soreness on my lower abdomen subside, and all of the tensions on my shoulders be gone.


"Angel, keep pursuing your life with true love in your heart. One day, all of your desires will bear fruit," said Leona, as her soft motherly voice rang wisdom, dwelling inside me. She applied the last bit of pressure, deeply on the center of her soles.

"I will keep loving, Leona," I told her, with my eyes closed.

 

"You can take a bath now. Scrub the rest of this mixture all over your body, and let it scent your whole body. I will be waiting with the others in the living room," said Leona. "Get dressed when you're done and come out. We will do the tea ceremony in the living room, with the others."

 

I felt totally loved, because someone took the time to give me so much attention, and made me feel so beautiful. "Thank you so much Leona for doing this for me," I told her.  

   

"You take a good bath, now. I've put in some more mint leaves in the water, so you will come out smelling gorgeous. Ichabod will be smiling," said Leona with a little giggle. "Angel, when you come out of the water, you are pure. You are CLEAN."

 

The water was warm and comforting, as I immersed my whole body inside the bubbly bath. The minty water soothed my soul, and the lavender oil on my forehead, temples, and palms gave me a tingling sensation that eased my tense spirit. I dipped into the water, like a little girl in my Mother's bathtub, playing with the water.

 

 

To be continued. Just write.

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