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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

An Amazing Story Part II

(First time here? Please scroll down and read part one.)

Mary met Lee's friend Ryan just one year earlier. She told them both he was too old to have a relationship with her. Ryan tried to convince Mary that he "loved Lee" and that he "already waited a couple of years for her to be ready to accept his love". Mary stood her ground said she couldn't see him anymore. Lee ran away that same night. She was 15-years-old and madly in love. He'd stalked her out since she was 12 or 13.

Ryan filled her young mind with empty promises to keep her submissive. By the time I met her she was completely run down. They lived inside of the cab of a semi eating fast-food every meal. She was very thin and pale.

Months after she came to live with me, she finally felt comfortable talking to her grandmother and dad on the phone. I remained in contact everyday. But we all knew Lee had to go at her own pace so there was no chance of her going back to Ryan. She was finally safe and all we could do was wait.

I gave gentle shoves as did her grandmother. We were able to set up weekend visits. I drove her to see them for the first time and could feel the pain and love in the air. I'm not a crier but this moment choked me up like nothing I've seen before. They were all happy to see each other again. Lee's dad, step mom, brother, aunt and grandmother ran outside as I pulled up to the house. I can't imagine what was going on in their heads as they awaited her arrival.

After a good weekend with family and friends, Lee was still not ready to move back. We drove back to my house Sunday night. Lee made an effort to call her real home everyday. She wanted so badly to be back home but just wasn't ready.

Mary and I had a long heart-to-heart about pressing charges against Ryan. Lee would have nothing to do with it and let us know she would tell the authorities we were lying if we tried turning him in. I called her bluff and contacted my detective friend. She was right. Without having witnessed Ryan doing something to her, we needed her testimony or no charges could be made. I was ready to lie. I told the detective I saw him with her. Being a friend of mine, he knew I was lying and said there is nothing we can do but try to get her back home.

She and I would stay up late at night talking about things like the woulda, coulda, shouldas in life. We talked about learning to live again, going back to school, meeting boys her age, putting the past behind and realizing her family loved her no matter what. She still loved Ryan. She wondered aloud if she could have both him and her family.

She was just a scared little girl, who needed to be loved. Every night I made a bed for her on my couch and every morning I woke up with her in my bed beside me.

After repeated stalking she finally began to see Ryan for what he was, the lowest form of life. He threaten to kill her, her grandmother, me and my kids or anyone else she loved in a feeble attempt to get her to come back to him. He was becoming terribly desperate as she began to find herself. It was becoming dangerous for all of us.

One day, without any warning, she picked up the telephone, "Gran, I'm ready to come home... for good."

I was happy for her. She was finally ready and had enough sense to know Ryan was no good. I dyed her hair back to black and took her out shopping for some new duds to begin her new start. The next morning, we took that long ride one last time. Neither of us said much in the car.

Saying goodbye didn't seem terrible. I knew I would miss her but I also knew she would be safer far from where Ryan worked, which was near my house. I knew we would still see each other and remain in contact. This goodbye was more of a "See you later." in our minds.

For the first year after she went home, she called, I called, we both e-mailed and instant messaged. She met a boy. Yes, thankfully, a boy and drifted away from me. She was in good hands at her grandmother's so I had to let go.

They changed their telephone number somewhere along the way and she stopped answering e-mail. I knew she had a new life but it still made me sad. I missed her. Finally, I gave up. Two years slipped away since then.

I've thought about her a million times during the last two years. I wondered if she was still with her grandmother. I wondered if she ever agreed to press charges against the man who took her innocence, and I wondered if she ever fulfilled all the dreams she spoke of on those many nights she couldn't sleep.

A couple of nights ago I was getting ready to shut off my computer. It was 1 a.m. and I was tired. I right clicked on my MSN Instant Messenger to exit. At the same time my AOL popped up. It wasn't a buddy name so I was going to hit the ignore button. In my mind I could see Lee's face. "Snow White" her long black hair, her pale skin, her thin petite body and her crimson lips. I let the message go through. It was her.

I thought I could wrap this story up for you guys in two parts but I can't. She and I typed back and forth until 3:30 a.m. Stay tuned for the bittersweet conclusion tomorrow.