Monday, January 17, 2011

Rising Stars

All the refugees in my group are still reeling from the brutal assault on one of our own. For the sake of discussion, we'll call her Nora. That isn't her name, but it works.

Nora is still recovering. The physical damaged she took was shocking even to people that have spent the better part of a year watching friends die at the hands and teeth of the plague of zombies outside our walls. She's going to be a long time recovering from her wounds, but that isn't why I'm still talking about her.

Nora is an amazing woman. Jess has spent most of the last two days with her, guarding her and giving her a shoulder to cry on and someone to talk to. I've visited her as well, sparsely at first and more often as I realized that she wasn't afraid of me because I was a man.

I've talked to her a quite a bit, actually. That's how I know just how tough and strong she really is. When Nora heard that we were getting to work on building our little home inside the storage building, all she could talk about was how she wanted to get up from the bed Gabby and Evans are making her stay in and help. She hates laying down and feeling useless. She hates being treated like a victim.

Rape is one of the most devastating events a person can endure. I've known victims of it that spent years living with uncontrollable fear and anxiety. Not Nora. She's angry as hell, but not afraid. She's hurting and sad, but she's eager to move on. To heal.

I don't know how anyone can be that resilient. Oh, she's got a lot of emotions boiling just under the surface, and she breaks out into tears at random times. She's suffering the effects that anyone would. She isn't allowing them to control her, though. She cries, but she forces herself to be calm and gain control. She makes the tears go away after shorter and shorter lengths of time. I don't know if what she's doing is healthy, to be honest. It's natural and necessary to grieve and hurt, it's our way of processing pain and healing from it. Nora is determined to get back to normal life as quickly as possible.

I don't know if it's healthy, but it is certainly impressive. Many months ago, we rescued a group of women from a hotel. Most of them had gotten the same treatment that Nora had. I had the good fortune to be a part of the team that helped them, and none of those women went two days without getting a visit from me if I could manage it. Call me old-school or sexist, but I have this urge to care for women, to help them and keep them safe. It was that urge that lead me to check in on each of them, to worry about how they were dealing with the horrific trials they had endured. It took most of them a very long time to be able to find comfort around groups of people, especially men. It took months for them to smile without an edge of terror to it.

As far as I know, most of them still carry weapons at all times. Blame it on zombies if you want--I know better.

Nora is doing as well as could be expected. Better, I would have to say. She says that the last ten months have changed her, made her stronger. I hope that's true. I hope that this isn't just a brave face put on for the people that worry about her.

One thing that she said to me stuck with me, and made me think that maybe she's genuinely dealing with this whole ordeal as well as she seems. She told me that she felt sorry for the man that did it to her. That she wished he hadn't been killed. She doesn't remember much of the attack, but she said that there are flashes of him after the fact, tears streaming down his face when he realized what he'd done. She still hates him, and the rage in her is obvious to see whenever she talks about him. She just doesn't let it blind her to the facts.

Still...on my part, I am glad that he's gone. The bloody hamburger that was made out of his skin by those thin rods (I asked later--they were giant lengths of metal file stock, uncut and roughened specifically for the purpse they were used for...Jack's people are a little scary. I like that.) was the least he deserved. Nora might have some degree of pity for the man who did this to her, but I think of him as the guy who did it, and maybe wept, but still tried to hide the evidence. Still acted normal afterwards.

If she were healthy, I would take her with me in a second when I leave out tomorrow. I always like having tough and resourceful people with me when I go on runs to the outside, and this trip will be a long one.

I'd love to take her with us to meet the courier of the Ark, have her at my back when we lead a team to the hiding place where several copies of what is essentially the collected knowledge of humanity will be secured.

Maybe she'll be hale and hearty by the time we get back, at least enough to join the team that's going to go out and look for Patrick. I hope so.

When I look at her, I should see darkness and shadow. Any person in her situation might fall into depression and constant negativity. I can't see that. The clouds that veil her eyes and heart are there, but there is sunshine also. There is laughter trying to get out. In her eyes, I see pain and the reflections of wounds that will one day scar.

But in them, I also see dazzling stars rising to the surface, shining and hopeful.

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