Read the full story, chapter by chapter here.
Some names and events have been changed to protect the identity of certain individuals.
Someone Else's Story
Someone Else's Story
Some names have been changed to protect the identity of certain individuals. In this chapter some events have been fictionally altered. Like the chapter title says, this chapter is not my story to tell, but this moment in life impacted me in a way that lead me down a path that I otherwise may not have walked. In time I hope the true story is able to be told, by the person who lived it first hand. If you are a survivor of abuse (in any form) I encourage you to speak out and get support.
I drove quickly to my house from Riley's apartment, hoping that when I called Audra, she would be home and calm my fears. She would tell me that I worry for nothing and that maybe if I would have gone on the camp out with her, that I wouldn't have had any reason to be anxious in the first place. She and I would joke about my crippling anxiety and then we'd catch up and watch a movie before I would have to go to work.
Unfortunately when I got home and opened the front door, Kristine was there to meet me with a concerned look on her face. "Where've you been?" She asked me.
"I was at Riley's, what's wrong?" I asked her.
"You tell me," Kristine shrugged her shoulders. "Audra showed up about an hour ago and she won't tell me what's wrong. It doesn't look good though."
"She still here?" I asked as I moved toward my bedroom.
"Yeah, she's in there. Want me to come with?" She asked, genuinely concerned.
"No, let me see what's going on first."
I opened the door and silently gasped as I saw my tiny friend sitting on the floor of my bedroom, knees hugged to her chest as she leaned against my dresser. A large photo book lay open in front of her. Audra's blue eyes were drawn to the pictures as she tenderly turned the pages. Audra's jeans were dirty, most likely from camping the night before. Her normally shiny blonde hair was pulled back into a pony tail and the makeup she regularly wore had been washed from her face.
Audra turned and looked at me with tear stained red eyes and I immediately saw it - the light in them was gone.
"Are you okay?" I asked, slowly kneeling beside her.
"I miss this," Audra half smiled as she glanced down at the pictures in my photo book. Pictures taken more than a year earlier. Pictures from sleepovers, silly performances at Church, holidays and even some from school. Each picture we were smiling, happy, with a hint of naivety.
"What happened?" I asked her, reaching over to close the photo book in hopes of focusing her attention.
"No girls showed up," she sighed. "I was going to cancel the whole thing, but everyone else had already packed and made plans." She frowned. "I didn't want to tell them it was for nothing. One of my friends from school was supposed to show up later that night but," her voice cracked. "But she never came."
I glanced down at Audra's hands that were tightly clasped together around her knees. What looked to be the beginning of small bruises patterned their way up her forearms. I felt my heart jumping into my throat as it began to race.
"Edward and Derrick fell asleep early and I left my tent to call my friend," she continued. "I had my Dad's cell phone in the car and it was parked a little ways away from camp. The reception was terrible . . . I never got through and . . ." she stopped speaking, unable to keep her eyes on me.
"He came to see if I was okay," Audra said, unable to even speak his name. "And when . . " her voice broke again. "I didn't know what to do. It all happened so fast. I yelled but no one heard me." Tears began to well in her eyes.
I knew those tears well. They'd once stained my own cheeks long ago when I found myself in a similar situation. When someone older, someone stronger took advantage - took everything from me and left me empty and cold inside.
"It's my own fault," Audra quietly muttered.
"Like hell it is!" I snapped back to life. "This is not your fault!" I didn't even realise I was yelling as the words left my mouth.
"I should have canceled, I knew better than to . . ."
"No!" I wanted to reach out and shake the common sense into her, but doing so might trigger something else inside of her, and I didn't want her to hurt more than she already did. She hadn't told me any details. I didn't know everything that happened, but I knew enough to be angry. "You're sixteen years old and he's like . . " I tried to remember. "Twenty-one. And regardless of your age, no one has any right to . . ." She quickly cut me off, not wanting me to say the words that I was thinking.
"Well it's done and over with now," she looked away as she spoke. "What can I do now?" She said, defeated.
"Call the cops!" My eyes widened. It seemed so simple. There were steps, we'd been educated in school and Church if not already at home. We'd watched all the after school specials on tv. We'd seen shows and movies that covered this topic. You call the cops. But I knew it wasn't that simple too. When it had happened to me long ago, it had taken me six years to tell anyone that wasn't Kristine.
"I don't want anyone to know," Audra admitted. I knew how she felt.
I spent the next hour trying to convince her to talk to someone about what happened. Her parents, her siblings. She agreed to talk to a counselor and I knew that they would be legally obligated to report the incident so maybe in the end justice would prevail. Ultimately though I blamed myself. I should have been there with her. I shouldn't have been so consumed with my own problems that I had ignored the people closest to me.
I dropped Audra off at her house and turned to head back home. My hands were shaking so badly that I could barely control the wheel. I couldn't go home. I needed to get away. No, I needed to do something about a situation that was already out of control. Turning, I headed back to Riley's house where I parked my car and then pounded on his door.
"Take me to Joseph's?" I asked him. "I'm not good to drive right now."
Riley agreed and soon we were on our way down the road headed toward Joseph's home. I kept my mouth shut for the most part, but Riley added things up on his own considering the way I'd left his apartment earlier that morning and my present emotional state.
The dark grey sky overhead loomed like God had painted the scene appropriately for the moment. Soon scattered showers reached the windshield and by the time Riley parked his truck across the street from Joseph's home, the rain was pouring down in large clumpy drops.
As I closed Riley's car door behind me, the front door to Joseph's home opened and he stepped out followed by Mitch. The two carried large bags with them, taking them to the trash can on the curb. Joseph looked up and smiled when he saw me standing there, walking alongside Riley closer to the house. Joseph threw the bag into the trash can and slowly approached.
"I knew you'd forgive me," he said with a smile on his face that said he was genuinely happy to see me.
"I hope you'll forgive me," I muttered through chattering teeth as the rain continued to pour down. My long red hair was already soaking wet and clung to my neck.
"Forgive you for what?" He asked.
I lunged viciously toward Mitch, hands out and fingered extended like a cat, eager to claw at his face. Unfortunately I didn't make it very far. One of Riley's large arms wrapped around my waist to hold me back while his free hand frantically maneuvered around trying to grasp at my outstretched arms.
My hazel eyes would normally turn a green tinted color of grey on a rainy day like this, but now they were red with the purest of rage. I struggled against Riley, my eyes dead set on Mitch as he laughed at my failed attempt and then walked back into the house leaving me even more furious.
Joseph was wide eyed, having never seen me like this before.
I struggled harder against Riley. One of my hands broke free and my bawled fist accidentally knocked into the side of his jaw causing him to release his grip on my waist. I stumbled at first, but once I caught my balance I rushed toward the house only to be caught by Joseph who looked equal parts confused and frightened by my sudden actions.
"What's going on?" He asked, looking more to Riley than to me.
"Something happened on the camping trip," Riley said solemnly.
I broke free of Joseph's grip and glared at him.
"Look, calm down," Joseph said, hands out defensively as he approached me. "Let's take a ride," he said looking to Riley. "And we'll talk."
"I'm done talking, just . . . leave me alone." I turned away, tears in my eyes began falling alongside the rain drops that cascaded down my cheeks. I turned away from them both and began walking down the hill. I needed to cool off.
I ignored Joseph's phone calls the next few days, shutting myself in my room. I even called in sick to work knowing that he might show up there. I couldn't look at him right now. All I saw was what his very presence in my life had let into my world; what had hurt my friend.
While I hadn't gone to Church in a long time, I knew that Audra would be there and I needed to check up on her and see how she was doing. Audra's family hadn't yet showed up as sacrament meeting began. I took my seat between Matt and his Mom, both seemed excited to finally see me back at Church. Midway through the opening song, Matt handed me a piece of paper.
Where have you been lately?
My eyes glanced around the room as Audra's family finally walked through the door and took their seats far in the back of the chapel overflow.
What have you been doing?
My mind began to wander back to better times. A time in this very chapel when I stood in front of the congregation and was declared a member of the Church the Sunday after my baptism. A time when Audra and I would plan our future weddings, in the temple of course. A time when Matt was my foreseeable husband. A time when I was happy. When everything made sense in the world.
"Ow." I mumbled as Matt's elbow touched my ribcage. I blinked and looked down as he passed the tray of sacrament bread to me. I looked down at the tray, a symbol of renewing the covenants that I made at baptism. I looked away and shook my head no. I wasn't worthy. The tray passed down the line and I felt Matt's worried eyes burrowing into my head.
Once the meeting was over, I rushed out as fast as I could. I didn't think I could sit quietly any longer when my insides were screaming. I headed into the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. Reaching for a paper towel to dry off, I heard the door open and glancing over I watched Audra walk in.
"I look different," Audra said as she stared at herself in the mirror.
"You're still you," I tried to console her. "Are you coming to Sunday School?" I asked her.
"No, I need to be alone right now." She frowned, unable to break away from her eyes eyes reflecting back at her in the dimly lit mirror.