He returns to the living room, his hand back on his chin trying to rub out the tension. He sits on a love seat against the wall connected to the kitchen and stares at the floor. Is that guilt on his face? It’s mixed with worry, but I can see a lot of guilt clouding his expression, too. What does he have to feel guilty about? He couldn’t have known that someone was going to break into the house tonight; it was a random act of violence, right? No, he would never leave me home alone if the thought I was going to be in any danger like this; he probably has normal parent guilt for his child getting hurt while he was out doing something else. Maybe he knows who my attacker might be and that’s why he feels guilty…but how could he know? I think it’s time to give in to my exhaustion. I can’t even comprehend which way my thoughts are taking me anymore and my eyes are getting really heavy anyway.
I allow my body to relax, even after all the excitement this evening. I feel like I’m falling deeper into the couch and disappearing into it. Even as I dream lightly through the night, I can still feel the pain on the front of my head guiding my dreams so they aren’t as neutral as they usually are. I don’t dream of puppy dogs and rainbows; usually of my mother and past memories both good and bad. Tonight, however, they were filled with blood and fear.
I stir the next afternoon at 1:43pm. At least, that’s when I was able to turn my head and look at the mounted clock against the far wall. I don’t usually sleep in on the weekends, so it’s strange a strange feeling. I immediately go into denial; there’s no way it’s already in the afternoon. Then it hits me. The pain comes back to me full force. My body is sore and my thoughts are coming slower than normal. I can feel in my bones that I’ve lost a whole morning of surfing the internet and walking in the woods a couple blocks from home.
I place my right hand on my head and test the tenderness with my fingers. Yep, my head is definitely swollen and the pain has not relented. I sneak a peek at the love seat and see my dad isn’t where he sat when I fell asleep last night. I don’t sit up, but I focus my attention on listening to where my dad is. I hear some light clinking of pans in the kitchen and I can smell sausage, eggs, and pancakes. Is he making breakfast? Is that coffee I smell, too? He hasn’t made me breakfast since I was really little. I normally have oatmeal or a bowl of cereal in the morning, nothing too fancy.
I try to sit up now, adjusting the position in my head causes a shot of pain down my spine and I groan as I lift myself upright. My dad yells to me from the kitchen, “Nope, don’t you dare get up, Nora, I’m going to be bringing you food in a minute.”
“Uhn…” I moan quietly, trying to keep my head from spinning. “I’m okay dad; I don’t need to lay down.”
He comes into the living room now, with a bag full of ice from our automatic ice maker in the freezer and hands it to me. “Can you at least wait until you’ve put something in your body first? Then we’ll get you ready and go to the police station, what do you say?”
Crap, I was really hoping to avoid that. I just wanted to pretend like last night never happened at all, and the pain was just from me sleeping funny.
“I can get ready myself dad, I’m not a baby.” I say between clenched teeth. I hope he didn’t take the statement as an insult. I was trying to bite back the dizziness. I take the ice pack from him and lay it gently against the growing bump on my forehead. It stings a little, but it doesn’t take long for the relief to settle in. It’s mixed in with everything else, but it’s definitely taking some of the stress from my body.
“Honey, you can barely sit up,” he points out. He turns and as he walks back to the kitchen he continues his thought, “What makes you think you’re going to be able to make it up those stairs?”
He has a point. The pain is now numbed a bit thanks to the heavenly touch of the ice pack, but the groggy, dizziness will not let up. I decide he can’t be right about everything though, I need to rebel a little, and stay sitting up instead of laying back down as he suggested. My body has to adjust eventually, right?
Dad comes back after a few minutes with a plate in his right hand which is full with steamy food, and a cup of coffee in his left. He sets them down in front of me and turns to get his own food before sitting back on the love seat and pulling the coffee table toward him. He grabs the TV remote in the middle of the table, just a few inches from his plate, and turns the channel to my favorite station; the WB. They have reruns of Supernatural on right now, which is one of my favorite shows. I can’t remember the last time I had breakfast in the afternoon and just sat on the weekend and hung out with dad. He’s usually in and out of his office working on some big case he needs to win.
I carefully set the slightly melted ice bag onto the table to the left of my plate and gently grab my fork. I can tell that haven’t gotten my strength back yet; the fork seems almost heavy in my hand. I slowly eat my scrambled eggs to make sure my stomach will be able to keep them down, and let my mind wander. To my dismay, my mind drifts to the events of the previous night. My attacker was clearly looking for something in dad’s office and couldn’t find it. There’s also the fact that my new neighbor and crush basically saved my life by calling the police last night. This was all going to be really awkward to deal with at school on Monday.
Dad has just finished his plate. He gets up from his seat and brings his dishes into the kitchen when there is a knock on the front door. I stare at the door, not sure what to expect, when dad rounds the corner, unlocks and opens the door, greeting the two police officers there. He lets them by and they see me sitting on the couch, with my blanket still on my lap. I didn’t have to wonder why my anxiety level shot up. They were here to talk to me about last night, but I wasn’t ready to breathe a word of it out loud yet. I am so grateful my dad was here for this.
I recognize one of the officers as Officer Randall. He introduces himself to me, politely but he talks in a slightly condescending manor, as if he’s talking to a small child because I’m injured and he’s not sure how to judge my mental health yet. He then turns and introduces his partner, which I assume was part of the search time last night as I didn’t recognize him. This other male is Officer David Sherman, not quite as tall as Randall, but more tan with a beard and deep gray eyes, where Randall has brown. Sherman stays back near our front window on the same wall of the front door, while Randall interrogates me.
“’Afternoon Miss Walker, how are you feeling?” Officer Randall begins, trying to sound nonchalant, and almost like he actually cared that I was hurting.
“I’ve been better.” I respond, looking down at my half-finished eggs and pancakes. There is no humor or sarcasm in my voice, but he chuckles a little as if I’ve made a joke.
“I can imagine that you have.” He pauses briefly as if I need the silence as a hint that we are moving onto serious content and that I need to be serious while talking about this. As if I needed the reminder. “I know that you’ve been through a lot, Miss Walker, but I need you to think about last night and tell me what happened with as much detail as possible. Do you understand what I’m asking you to do?”
I nod, not wanting to start an argument over the fact he’s talking to me like I’m four years old again, but either way I did understand him. Officer Sherman takes out a recorder and turns his attention to me. He has a more soothing tone, and talks to me like an adult rather than an injured toddler. It’s more comforting than Officer Randall. “We need to record your statement so that we can add it to the file for the investigation, unless you refuse.”
“No, it’s okay,” I say, finally finding my voice. He pushes record on the device and aims it towards me as I talk. “Dad left last night around 9pm, or so to go grab something from his office, which is why I was home alone. I feel asleep waiting for him when I heard someone shuffling around in his home office. I got up to check who it was since I hadn’t heard dad come home yet. I open the door, and suddenly there’s a gun pointed at my face and I’m having a staring contest with a person dressed all in black from head to toe–even a stupid ski mask. I couldn’t even tell you what gender this person was, just that they were about six inches taller than me with shoes on. I asked what they wanted but they didn’t say anything. I was going to grab for the gun, but I got hit in the head with it before I could. The next thing I remember is seeing Officer Randall leaning over me asking if I’m okay.”
“Could you see what color hair this person had, or eyes?” Randall is the one asking questions, which irritates me a bit but I brush the feeling away.
“Uhmm…no, the hair was all under the mask and it was too dark in the room to see what color the eyes were. I can tell you the person is slim, but the shirt was large enough so I couldn’t see…well anything, and the pants were baggy enough to not show any bulge.” I respond. I feel a little awkward, and bad I’m not much help for their investigation, but my attacker did a pretty good job of covering their tracks. If I hadn’t walked in, they would have gotten away scott free, even with the mess that was left. “I’m sorry I’m not much help, officers.”
“It’s okay, dear, you’re doing your best,” Officer Randall says. He digs in his left breast pocket for a card and hands it to me. Sherman turns off the recorder. “If you think of anything else, please give me a ring at the number on the card, okay?”
I’m surprised they didn’t push the subject more, but Officer Randall really must see me as a broken child because they just got the basics and left. I took a deep breath; I can feel the tension in my muscles from trying to remain calm in the company of police officers, as well as having to recount a night that still pains me.