Match Sixteen: Mountain Ash:
Lydia stared at herself in the mirror. Trauma never goes away. Her therapist told her that she had to tell the truth. Florence died before she had a chance. Alfred had changed since baby Florence was born. But could he handle what happened to her?
It wasn’t her fault. She knows that now. It took her a while to believe it. The monster who hurt her was caught. This wasn’t his first time. She was going to be a witness.
Lydia trembled. It was normal for her to want to forget. But they needed her. She needed justice for herself. Lydia had to force herself not to scream. She was done with all of it. The nightmares, the silence, the urge to scream, and seeing that monster out of the corner of her eye. She gripped the sides of her sink and gritted her teeth.
“I just want it to end!” Lydia complained to her therapist. The older woman looked up at her.
“You know what you need to do.”
Lydia clenched her fists in her lap. “I know that!” She lowered her head. “It’s just…” The young woman trembled.
“Do you trust him?”
She lifted her head. “Hm?”
“Do you trust him?”
Lydia started to speak but nothing came out. Her eyes shifted away from her therapist. She already knew the answer to that but why couldn’t see bring herself to say it? The clock ticking in the background did little to ease her thoughts.
Back in present day, Lydia forced herself to calm down. Might as well just rip this bandage off. If Florence trusted him, there was no reason that she couldn’t either. Lydia nodded to herself before she walked out of the bathroom.
Lydia found Alfred sitting in the living room. Baby Florence was asleep in her room. The young woman stood in the doorway. She clenched her fists by her side. Lydia was tired of keeping down in her gut. The young woman matched over to the sleeping man on the couch. She smacked him on the arm.
“Alfred,” she whispered. “Get up. Get up!” The American man slowly opened his eyes. Lydia stood over him with a worried look on his face.
“Hm? Lydia? What is it?” he asked. She moved her hand to her chest.
“Alfred,” the young woman said. “I need to tell you something.” The American man sat up straight.
“What is it?” he asked. Lydia came over and sat down next to him. Alfred started to look confused.
“Lydia?” he asked again. She hesitated at first.
“Do you remember when I left home to go west?” Lydia asked at last.
“Yeah?” Alfred said. She looked down at her lap.
“I was going out to meet my birth mother,” Lydia said. “She lives somewhere in Oregon. I had to meet her. Maybe I shouldn’t have.” She rested her hands in her lap.
“What happened?” Alfred asked. Lydia shook her head. No, she had to keep going. Anything to get this trauma out of her life.
“I stopped in Texas at one point,” she said. “I was by myself. I had been traveling by bus. One night, I… I went to a rest stop. I went across the street to a diner for dinner.” She started to play the whole nightmare in her head. Her chest started to hurt with tinge. Her eyes welled up with tears.
“Lydia…” Alfred said.
“No, listen!” she shouted. Lydia could feel herself shaking. The American man stared at her. The young woman took a deep breath.
“There wasn’t really anyone inside,” Lydia forced herself to go on. “There was this one guy who was a bit older than me. I tried not to pay any attention to him. I just wanted to finish my dinner and go to bed. That was a mistake on my part. He kept getting closer.” She rubbed her forehead and started trembling.
“It wasn’t my fault,” she said to herself. “It wasn’t my fault!” Alfred put his arm around her. Lydia looked up in shock.
“Alfred?” she asked.
“It’s okay,” he said. Lydia shook her head.
“Why didn’t I turn around in time?” she asked. “If I had just looked…” The young woman swallowed a mouthful of air. She finally added the final gut punch came out in two words.
“Hm?” Alfred asked. Lydia lifted her head.
“I’m pregnant,” she said in a choked out whisper. Alfred about fell out of his chair.
“What?!” he asked. “By who?” Lydia gulped.
“By the guy who raped me,” she said quietly.
“What?! How did that happen? Are you okay?” he asked. Lydia trembled as she shook her head.
“Oh, Lydia,” the American man said. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“I don’t want this baby!” she wailed. A scream bubbled in her throat. Then came that damned question.
“What do you want to do?” Alfred asked. Lydia turned her head with tears in her eyes.
“What?” she asked.
“What do you want to do about the baby?” he asked. Lydia looked down at her lap.
“I don’t want it,” she whispered. The American man nodded.
“Well okay,” he said. “We can work from there.” Lydia had a thin trail of tears running down her cheeks.
“I don’t get it,” she said.
“Get what?” Alfred asked.
“Why are you helping me so much?” the young woman asked. The American man gave her a goofy smile as he took hold of her hand.
“Because,” he said. “You are family now.” Lydia tried to think of a response but nothing came to mind. Instead, more tears filled her eyes. At long last, she broke down crying on his shoulder. Alfred just patted her on the back and let her do so.