This is a continuation of Rebecca’s story in Freedom?
If you missed it, you can begin the story here.
Rebecca knew that story well. She had lived it long enough.
Countless times, she had woken up with that sharp, distinct, metallic taste in her mouth — it was the taste of life seeping out of her — and, depending on how uncooperative M and his brothers thought she had been, sometimes she peeled off easily from the corners of her mouth, her legs, her arms, and whatever body parts the extension of the arms of her drunken tormentors had hit her with (sometimes, it was a belt, or pieces of some broken furniture, or broken bottles….), the dried residue of what was once the bright red essence that sustained this existence she begged to be free from by death’s merciful embrace. Other times, she chose to wear the bloodstains like badges, much to the chagrin of her tormentors, as if to prove that although life had dealt her more than an unfair hand, she had faithfully carried her burden with integrity.
Today, a child told this same story.
This woman seated across the table from Rebecca was only a child, yet for eighteen months she had lived the same death as Rebecca. Ruby’s journey started when she had sneaked out of school with a friend. They were supposed to meet with some other friends and just roam town and cause as much trouble as they could get away with, till after school. It wasn’t the first time they had done something like that. They prided themselves as rebels protesting whatever their juvenile minds could come up with…. Only this time, there were people Ruby did not recognize. At first, she thought nothing of it, but as the day progressed, her uneasiness had grown and she was uncomfortable with the behavior of the strangers. When she shared her concerns with her friend, she had done her bit to allay Ruby’s fears — an effort that had not yielded much results. As Ruby decided they were too way in over their heads this time, her friend dealt her a blow that took eighteen months to recover from….
“One last drink”, she had said, offering Ruby a glass she had appeared to be drinking from at the time.
It was the last thing Ruby remembered.
She had woken up in a room filled with other girls who like her, didn’t remember much about how they had gotten there.
As Ruby broke down, struggling to continue the tale, Rebecca felt her heart clench. It was hard to tell if it was because of the rising waves of compassion in her heart for Ruby, or if it was because of the anger towards this girl that was supposed to be her friend. She too, this friend, was only still a child. How could one so young be capable of such wickedness? Did she not know what she was doing? Was it just for the thrill of momentary gain? How much is a friend worth? Was this girl even a friend to Ruby in the first place?
Rebecca tried again to blink back tears as these questions brought back memories that reopened her own wounds and caused her to relive her pain all over again.
Her efforts to remain calm, collected, and to at least try to appear strong for these girls were getting harder by the minute. Her estimations also of her own strength were more off course than she realized.
So off course were they that as she opened her mouth to reassure Ruby, gut wrenching sobs escaped from her mouth that soon metamorphosed into full blown wailing.
Before she even had time to consider what to do next, she stood and ran out of the room.
Mentoring was harder than she thought it would be.