Blackness, overwhelming blackness. I couldn’t see, I didn’t want to see.
Please don’t make me remember. I sobbed shaking my head. It was too painful. I didn’t want to remember, not again.
My eyes connected with a roomful of pity, empathetic and even a few gazes full of hatred.
“Please tell us what happened to you,” asked the prosecuting attorney, D. Parker. “….on the night on December 18.”
My hands trembled and my lips quivered. My life was to become an open book for twelve angry and protected strangers. I sobbed yet again, why it felt like this was my trial instead of his.
“God, help me through this, “I whispered. “I can’t do this alone.”
Slowly my mind began to silence, calmness washed over me like a crashing wave. Images that I tried so hard bury, began to resurrect from the dead.
The night had ended like most others for me. I had finished a swing shift working at the university bookstore. I had just finished doing inventory and was locking up around 11:00pm. I was tired and really just wanting to get home when someone grabbed me from behind.
His strong hands gripped my throat and began choking me. I heard him rustling around his pocket, when he pulled a gun to my neck. He said if I tried to struggle or scream he would pull the trigger on the spot. I was dragged from the building, no one was around for anyone to see or do anything. I begged and pleaded with him not to hurt me. He just stared at with me those beady black eyes.
I prayed to God, like I had never heard before. My cries just went unnoticed by Him as they did everyone else. I never felt so alone and so scared. I prayed that God would allow this to end quickly.
My attacker dragged me to a secluded grove of trees. I continued pleading with him. He wouldn’t listen, he just continued on.
My mind was numb. I began collapsing on the witness. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t my fault.
D. Parker nodded almost as if smiling,” Can you please point to your attacker, Ms. Jacob?”
My finger reached across the witness stand to a man hunched over in a chair, shame written across his face. He struggled to maintain his composure and I struggle to regain mine.
The jury only took two hours to deliberate.
The word I so badly needed to hear. It did not change the past but it made the future easier to bear. Knowing this predator would longer be loosed to harm another.
His lawyer held the grown man as tears crushed his eyes. He would never see his wife or child again. His life had just been sold away.
I couldn’t help but gloat; feeling like a bug had been crushed under my feet. Only for me it would never be a bug, but a lethal predator.
My attacker approached me as I prepared to leave the courtroom.
“Wait,” he asked. I turned on foot to stare him down. “I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I know it doesn’t change anything but please forgive me.”
Yet again tears flooded my eyes, I shook my head no and mouthed the word, never.
I didn’t bother to look back as his sobbing filled the courtroom.
The next few days passed with difficulty and guilt. I couldn’t shake what I had said to my attacker, something God would not let me forgot either.
My mind tried to focus on the day’s bible study. God’s prodding would not leave me alone as I was drawn to the story of Christ and the thief on the cross. This thief had mocked Christ along with the rest of crowd. But his heart still found the strength and courage to welcome the thief into His Kingdom. Christ even found it in his heart to forgive and accept me.
Maybe I could find the same strength and courage to do the same.
Only with your help, Lord, I prayed. I can’t do this alone.
Today I made a visit to prison and to the man who changed my life. He sobbed as he glanced at me. I smiled and slipped him a small folded piece of paper.
It read: FORGIVEN.
His hands trembled as he read. He mouthed the words, WHY?
I smiled and slipped another piece of paper through.
It read: JESUS.
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