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by Naomi Deutekom
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Darkness, cold, silence… so cold, so dark…
Whispers, there are whispers.
Who’s there? Where am I? I feel so cold. Can’t see, so dark.
Whispers in the dark, I hear whispers. Groggy, can’t think. Where am I?
Heavy… I feel heavy. Can’t open my eyes, darkness… Heavy, dark, where am I?
Fear, I feel fear. Why am I afraid? Is this a dream? What happened?
Wake up. Open eyes. Can’t, it’s too bright --hurts. Oh… pain. What happened?
Whispers…someone talking… Who’s there? Familiar… wake up…
Pain… I must be awake. Familiar voice… Mom! It’s my mom! Okay. I will be Okay. Please, God, I must wake up.

“I see her lips moving,” she heard Mom whisper. “Her lips –she’s trying to speak!” Mom’s voice rose in excitement.

Melissa could hear Mom's voice. She fought to open her eyes. She tried to speak. I must wake up. I must speak.

“Mom!” Finally, the word was out. Relief…

Melissa slowly opened her eyes. "A hospital," she thought. "I’m in the hospital. What happened? Mom’s crying –why? How long have I been asleep?" Questions filled her mind, but she was too tired to speak again. Sleep drifted in and claimed her once more, this time a sweet, peaceful sleep. All was well for the moment; Mom was there.

Melissa opened here eyes again --slowly. There was still pain. Everything hurt. Bright sunlight poured through the window and across her bed, making it difficult to open her eyes. "I wonder how long I’ve been asleep," she thought. "It looks like morning. Mom’s still here. How can she sleep in that chair?"

Melissa’s gaze traveled around the room. "How long have I been here and what happened?" As hard as she tried, she could not find the answers. "At least I know one thing," she thought. "My head still hurts." She had an IV tube attached to her arm. "What’s this for? I’ve never been sick before. I’m afraid." She watched as her mom shifted positions in the chair and opened her eyes.

“Melissa, you’re awake. How do you feel?” Her mother sounded both tired and excited. “Oh honey, it’s so good to see you awake! Do you feel any pain?”

“My head hurts,” Melissa said. “What happened?”

Her mom hesitated. “I’d better call the nurse. They wanted to know right away if you woke up.”

"Mom’s nervous," she thought. "What’s wrong? Something awful happened. What? Why can’t I remember?"

A doctor and two nurses appeared at the door. “Glad to see you decided to join us again. How do you feel?” the doctor asked.

“My head hurts and I can’t remember what happened,” Melissa replied.

“You have a concussion. It may take a while for you to remember.”

“What, -what happened?” she asked.

“You came home four days ago, badly beaten up, and incoherent,” Mom said. “We took you right to the emergency room. We had no idea what happened. We’ve talked to a number of your friends and they don’t seem to know either.”

“I think we should leave it at that for now,” said the doctor. “It’s best to let your memory come back slowly. Get as much rest as you can and don’t struggle with it."

Melissa sighed. "How in the world am I not supposed to think about it!" she thought. She felt the tears slip out of her eyes and down her face. She was a good kid, she knew she was. Why would anyone want to beat her up?

“Whatever happened, we’ll figure it out” Mom said.

“Why Mom,” she asked. “Why did this happen to me?”

“I don’t know sweetie,” she said. “I just don’t know.”

Melissa slept on and off again as morning turned to afternoon. She began to dream. She was running, running always running. She woke up breathing hard and filled with fear.

“Mom!” she called. Mom came and held her hand while she cried.

Later in the day, a nurse came in along with a police officer. The officer asked questions about Melissa’s life, her home and her friends.

“What was the last thing you remember doing, Melissa?” asked the officer.

“There was a play practice.” She paused to think. Her head hurt. “I forgot about the play. I got the lead role. Connie Harrison wanted it, but I got it.”

“Who is Connie Harrison?”

“Connie’s a bully. She always gets what she wants and makes life miserable for anyone who gets in her way.”

“Melissa, would Connie go so far as to beat you up because you got the part?”

“I don’t know,” said Melissa. “Connie does a lot of name calling and stuff like that, but she’s never beat anyone up before.”

“Tell me all you know about Connie, school and the play.” The officer wrote as she talked. “We will investigate this and get back to you.”

After he left, Melissa turned her face into her pillow. It hurt to think, but she couldn’t stop. She cried. Mom held her hand. Suddenly like a storm or a volcano, memories started to flood her mind. The fear… the running… Connie and her friends… Laughing, harassing, pushing, shoving… several girls and a couple of boys. "No wonder I hurt so badly," she thought. "Gary, he had a hockey stick with him. They all took turns hitting me. Why, why, what did I do…?"

She sobbed as the memories surfaced, her tears creating a healing flow, her Mother’s arms tight around her. She had many questions. Would Connie beat her up again? The thought filled her with fear. Should she quit the play? Would the police investigation make things worse?

A Bible verse pushed its way through her foggy memory,

“Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.” (Ps, 31:24)
She was not alone.

"Fear… I feel fear, but I feel more love. Mom loves me. God loves me. I will be ok."

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