*names have been changed
Let me begin by saying that I don't know how to begin, and I don't know how to write this, but I know that I need to. If you're reading this, please bear with me.
While on my way to work this morning, I received a phone call from a friend. I knew something was wrong the second she said, "It's Callie*." When she asked me if I had time to come pick her up, I knew that work was the least important thing on my list of places to be today, and that I needed to be with Callie instead. After calling the office to tell them I'd be late, I literally raced all the way to the gas station where Callie had called me from. I'm amazed that I didn't get in a wreck.
She wouldn't look at me. She wouldn't talk to me, she wouldn't say anything. She just sat there shaking like she was freezing cold, despite it being 95 degrees outside and my car having no air conditioner. Her eyes kept darting back and forth, and she jumped whenever I moved my hand. She had a bruise and a cut on her forehead -- Callie isn't clumsy. Her actions and mannerisms were making me nervous. I became more worried when all of my questions were answered in the same way: "I'm okay." Over and over again, "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay."
I took her to school like she asked me to, but I felt like I should keep asking her if she was okay, and if she needed anything, and what happened. Finally she looked at me.
Her eyes -- I have never, ever seen eyes like that before. Callie's eyes have always been happy and mischievous. They've been tinged with a bit of sadness on occasion, but never like they were today. Today -- I can only describe the look in her eyes as broken, or shattered. It was like looking through a window and seeing darkness, pain, shame, sorrow, fear -- every awful feeling you can feel was housed in her eyes. Two dark, never-ending pools absolutely full to the brim of everything and nothing at the same time. A strange and terrifying emptiness.
Suddenly, she broke. Through tears and sobs, she kept saying that she was sorry, so sorry, that she didn't mean to -- my suspicions that I had when I first saw her increased. She said she felt sick and like she'd done something wrong, and she'd repeat "I'm sorry" again and again, followed by the mantra "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay."
Amid the repetitions of apology and her continual attempts to convince me (though I'm almost positive that she was trying harder to convince herself) that she was okay, she choked out what had happened. The phrases were in no logical sequence of beginning-middle-end. But it was enough.
I've never seen anyone so broken before -- like something inside of her had been snuffed out, a candle flame in a sudden gust of wind. I didn't know what to do -- how can you convince someone so shattered that it wasn't her fault?
How can people be so cruel and evil? How could anyone willingly hurt someone as badly as they hurt Callie?
And it brings back so many horrible feelings and memories -- what happened to Callie almost happened to me. I could have been the girl with the haunted, broken, shame-filled stare. I almost was. And every once in awhile this afternoon, I've felt like it should have happened to me. Me, and not Callie. It doesn't seem fair that I was spared, and that she wasn't.
The look in her eyes keeps flashing in front of me -- what I wouldn't give to take this away from her, to experience it for her, to do something that will help her. I don't know what to do for her. All I could do was hold her while she cried, and repeat to her again and again that it wasn't her fault -- she didn't know this would happen! It wasn't and never will be her fault. Ever.
But she doesn't believe me. I don't really expect her to believe me. I just wish that she could see that the blame doesn't rest on her shoulders -- that this is not her fault.
Callie -- beautiful little Callie. I don't know what to do.