Recovery, Relapse, Relationship (part 3)

(Continued from the last post. Click here to catch the whole story from the beginning.)

He stared at me, not in anger now, but in bewilderment. He probably had never considered that Clydene would blame herself. Why would she? He probably couldn’t fathom it, even now. He probably thought she would blame him, just as he did. We all tend to project onto others the feelings we feel about ourselves.

“You wouldn’t think it,” I said, now more tenderly. “But believe it or not, that’s the most likely outcome, that Clydene will think it’s her fault.”

He shook his head. “It’s not her fault.” He sat back down.

“Who’s fault is it?” I heard myself ask. I’m not sure why I asked the question. We both already knew the correct answer. It was the fault of the rapist. But I also knew the answer Ted—I was sure—believed, deep in his heart, that it was his fault. At least I knew, if I were in his situation, I would be searching for reasons to blame myself. I had even been there, having suffered loss in my life, knowing all the reasons why it was my fault. But I didn’t want to think about that just then.

He finally answered me. “I don’t know you well enough to answer that question, Miss—“

“Miss Jayson.” I introduced myself. “But please call me Mira.” I stepped up and offered my hand for him to shake.

He didn’t take my hand, but he looked like he wanted to say something. Before he could, Clydene groaned. She began to roll onto her side, but then she stopped and whimpered, “No.” Her eyes were still closed, and I thought that she must have been dreaming.

Ted stood, gritting his teeth. I felt sorry for him, probably feeling out of control, probably feeling more vulnerable than he was used to. But I needed to give first priority to Clydene.

I sidled up next to her. “Sweetie,” I said, “it’s okay now. You’re safe now. You’re in the hospital.”

She opened her eyes and stared blankly at me.

Then I added, “Ted is here.” I nodded in his direction, on the other side of her bed.

She looked to him and began to weep. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Could you leave us alone?” he snarled at me. Ted was clearly struggling to restrain his rage, possibly directed more at himself than at anyone else.

He reached out to comfort Clydene, and she recoiled. He pulled back just as Dr. Ilic entered the room. The doctor introduced herself to Clyde. She explained why Clyde had become sick. Clyde’s eyes glazed over. The doctor said the police wanted to talk to her, and that a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner would be talking to her about a forensic examination. I interjected that Clyde should think about whether she wanted the examination, or to talk to the police, because she didn’t have to if she didn’t want to. I added that she could have Ted in the room if she wanted, or not, and I would also be happy to stay with her if she wanted.

Ted scowled and mumbled something about “meddling bitch,” and the doctor glared at me. I understood Ted’s reaction. But that Dr. Ilic glared at me showed that she was not familiar with protocol in a case like this. Either she disagreed with my advice or thought I had overstepped my bounds. All of this saddened me, but I pretended not to notice—or tried to pretend, anyway. Clyde seemed to get what I was saying. She had fondness in her eyes as she nodded quietly, and I felt a little better.

I had a feeling that Clyde was going to want to give an official report. It was something about her expression, or body language—such as there was, even though she barely moved because of her injuries. Something about how she “felt” when I mentioned talking to the police. But I also had a feeling that Ted was going to insist on being there with her, and that could be a problem. Could you imagine having to describe in detail, for the record, how some creep abducted you, humiliated you, sexually assaulted you, and abused you, all in front of your husband? No, I didn’t think so. A woman in that situation would be sure to leave out important details, even without meaning to, would soften the account to save herself and her spouse embarrassment.

I needed to speak to Ted, because I needed to talk to him about his role in all this. I strode over next to where he stood. I felt like a little kid standing next to him, because he stood almost two feet taller than me. I valiantly resisted a “How’s the air up there?!” joke, because it wasn’t the time or place. Still, I tried to talk softly, but I felt as though I needed to shout to be heard.

“How are you holding up?” I asked, and I placed my hand on the small of his back.

He scoffed. “I’ll survive.”

(To be continued…)


This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoy this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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