~ 11 ~
I am sitting in the front seat of Mark’s car watching the chaos around me. The police have arrested the drunk attacker and are getting statements from both the man who saved me and Mark.
I have stopped crying, my black mascara having left streaks down my cheeks. I just keep thinking over and over that if that man didn’t come when he did, what might have happened? Would I have been able to free myself and get away? I look down at the scrapes and bloodied scratches on my arms from when the attacker dragged me across the road. Shit, I’m so lucky and I have that man to thank. I jump in fright at the sound of someone tapping on the car window. I look up and relax slightly at the sight of Ashley. I open the door to my very concerned boss and watch her climb in the passenger seat.
“Beth, I’m so sorry this happened. I cannot apologise enough for what you just went through.” She tells me through sincere eyes.
“It’s not your fault.” I say quietly.
“Even so, you are important to me and I will not stand for this shit. That fucker is going down! The cameras on the shop you parked in front of caught the whole thing.”
I nod my head in response. She reaches out for me and I fall into her embrace awkwardly with the gear stick in the middle of us. She comforts me in silence, and I feel myself coming to terms with what just happened.
I vow there and then to never be in a position where I am vulnerable and helpless. I will learn how to defend myself again and become confident in doing so. After about ten minutes I sit up and turn to Ashley.
“I’m going to thank Mark and then find the man who saved me before I go home.”
“Ok, I’ll drive you home. Mark is pretty upset with himself; he isn’t sure whether you want to see him.”
“Of course I do, I don’t blame him. And thanks for the offer, but really I want to drive myself home.”
“If you’re sure. Please call me if you need anything, even if you just need to talk to someone. I’m ordering you to have the rest of the week off, longer if you want it. Don’t come back until you feel ready.” she gives me another hug before getting out of the car. I follow her out and head over to where I can see Mark still talking to the police officer.
“Mam’ I think we have enough information here that we won’t require you to come with us to the station tonight. However, some officers will need you to sign your statement tomorrow. I can send them to your house.” Officer Rohen tells me.
“Yes, thank you.” I tell him and he walks away.
“Please don’t beat yourself up over this.” I say to Mark who looks at me with so much guilt written on his face.
“How can I not? My sole purpose is to keep you safe and I didn’t.”
“Stop, I won’t hear of this! I parked out on the street, I know we shouldn’t park there.” I plead with him and notice he is avoiding my eyes. I go on “Mark, it will hurt me more to know that you are blaming yourself for what happened.”
I wait a beat and then step forward and wrap my arms around his strong frame. “I don’t blame you, I don’t like you any less and I certainly won’t treat you any different.” My words come out muffled against his thick, black jacket. I squeeze him tighter and feel him relax into my embrace. He kisses the top of my head and I feel safe in his arms.
“I’m sorry Bethany.” he whispers.
“That’s the last time your allowed to say that.” I step away from him and smile. “I gotta go, I’ll see you soon. Give Tommy a hug from me.”
“Always. Bethany, you know you can call me if you feel the urge to yell at me.”
“Stop it Mark!” I and turn to walk away in search of my mystery saver.