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Chapter 8: Life Goes On
After Daniel left, I remained in the park. My clothes were dry, and I had braided my hair, so that wasn’t of consequence either.
I was strolling around the fountain and gently rumpling the fur of my sweet Yorkshire terrier, Darcy, until I sat down on the fountain lip again and gently set him on my lap.
I wonder, what does Daniel think of me? Am I some weirdo to him, or a genuine friend? Darcy whimpers on my lap and looks up at me with wet, remorse eyes. I laugh.
“Okay, Mr. Darcy, let’s play fetch!” I say.
Darcy perks up immediately and jumps off my lap. I pitch a worn tennis ball and his little legs sprint after it enthusiastically. He retrieves it and runs it back to me and leaps in my arms. I laugh and spin him around.
“Ha, you think that’s a dog?” A male voice sneers behind me.
I whirl around and back against a tree. Carmen’s boyfriend, Mark, is standing there. I swallow. “Hello, Mark.”
“Hello, Abigail. Have you enjoyed your morning at the park?”
“Yes, right up until you came along.” I said snidely.
He laughs, a rough barking sound. “Spirited, for a shy girl.”
I hold Darcy closer to me with trembling hands. “You just don’t know all of me.” I say, attempting to sound brave.
“Oh yeah? Well, forget Carmen. Maybe I can find out all of you.”
My eyes widen and I move away from the tree and start to walk back to the fountain. Mark moves quicker than me and blocks me and pushes me back up against the tree. I start hyperventilating. Why did Daniel have to leave? Why isn’t Dad here?
His head comes at me. At the last minute, I duck and his mouth connects with tree bark. He curses and moves just enough that I wiggle out and make a run for it. He swears again and runs after me again and tackles me to the concrete.
I feel my face skid on the pavement, ripping off my bandage and reopening the wound. I wince slightly. I feel the skin rip off my palms and knees.
“Daniel!” I shout. Where is everyone when you need them?!
“Daniel can’t save you now.” Mark grunts. He flips me over so I’m facing him. His own damn mistake. I lift my foot in ballet kick and slam my sneaker in his face.
“Get offa me!” I scream as loud as I can.
Mark clamps his hand over my mouth and nose and pinches my throat. I gag. My breath is hung in mid-inhale. I scrabble at his hands, trying to scrape them off so I can breathe. He pitches himself back on top of me, and this time, my oxygen-starved brain won’t cooperate to send the signals of kick-his-sorry-a**. I can feel my heart slowing and my vision beginning to sparkle.
In my peripheral vision, I see Darcy run off. My fingernails claw the pavement, trying to drag him back. Tears are falling from Mark’s eyes. No wait, that’s rain. Why?!
Just when I think I can’t hold on any longer, Mark doubles up. His fingers retract from my mouth and nose and air rushes into my lungs. I gasp, filling my lungs with sweet air. I roll away from Mark, not having the strength to do more.
I hear something being pounded and crack my eyes open. I see a tall figure with an umbrella beating the crap out of Mark.
“If I ever see you near my daughter again, you will die! I will personally file a lawsuit if you so much as touch her shoulder!”
Dad. Thank God.
Dad kicks Mark and hauls him to his feet, just to knock him back down with a swift uppercut to his jaw. He hauls him back up and grabs his collar. My dad pulls out Mark’s cell phone and dials his parents.
“Yes, Mr. Carther? This is Dr. Chadwick. I have your son, Mark, here. What’s that? Oh yes. Anyway, he was trying to rape my daughter! I suggest you get your a** down here and pick your son of a—”
“Dad!” I rasp.
“Sorry, your asinine son here. Ahem.” He hangs up the phone and sticks it back in Mark’s pocket.
Dad comes over and helps me to my feet. “Let’s go home. I called Aunt Margie when Darcy came home without you, and I imagine she’ll have hot cocoa and blankets and a movie waiting, not to mention open ears.”
Back at home, Darcy yipped at my feet. “Yes, good job, Darcy. Such a good boy…” My voice breaks.
Aunt Margie wraps me in her arms and brings me to the kitchen. “Have a seat, darling.”
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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