Listening to the Voice
by Eve Dobbins
I can draw her portrait without looking at her picture: slight of build, ethereal with a wide smile and enormous dreamy eyes. She was the type of friend you wanted when you read Nancy Drew mysteries. An idealist with everything to look forward to and of the same fiber you recognized that you possessed but somehow you managed to escape whole entering adulthood and she didn’t. Right now, she should be in University studying medical science or forensics. That is how you see her but that is not how her future played out.
How both of you grew up is different: she was surrounded by an urban environment living on the outskirts in suburbia which is supposed to be “safe” protecting her from what happened. You grew up in an agrarian area where your nearest neighbor was 2 miles away located up the big hill on your way to Youngsville. Gladys Connelly, who used to spy on you and your unusual family, relocating from New York City to the Catskills, Your small “ville” was once part of a makeover on a reality TV show because of its quaintness and a step back in time. Her suburb, Brandon, just outside of the enormous metropolitan area connected to Tampa is often referred to on America’s Most Wanted and other odd incidents that happen. Many tourists and snowbirds visit this area. Gladys Connelly and the others who made up your small community may have kept you safe with their gossip held carefully and listened to as the telephone game was played in your small community, “Have you heard….” or “Did you notice…” Maybe it was your sixth sense as you grew older which kept you safe as your Irish mom believed.
Remember that time with the French Club on tour in Montreal and you were alone when a strange man approached and tried to befriend you. You were 19 but your sense of something not right took over and you moved away eager to join up with the other French club members. She was 17 years old and attacked outside of the Bloomingdale Library in quiet suburbia. It was dusk and I often imagine the conversation she might have been having with herself when she may have noticed him. A strange young man in his late teens sitting outside on the library bench watching her. So, she calls her friend with her cell phone and proceeds to chat easily while dropping her library books in the book drop. The library is set off from the road in a wooded area and it is a Sunday, but she can see the road from a distance and she hears traffic. She feels very safe and I imagine, she wants to complete #2 o her list: return her library books. Those library books, fiction or non-fiction, did she imagine that one day her story would be included in the news. So, she leaves her car running and the door open with the keys in the ignition. It is the end of her junior year and summer vacation has arrived. She is thinking of next year: college applications and the road to her future. I imagine she feels very safe and invincible but he is watching and her intuition has no voice. Or maybe it does, but she disregards it.
The drop box is right there but as she reaches it, he rushes toward her and proceeds to hit her violently beating her until she is worn down. Her friend on the phone hears the screams and the phone drops. She repeats her friend’s name and there is no answer. Desperately, she calls out her name again and then rushes toward the door with her car keys only to remember she has no idea where her friend is calling from. Eventually, they will find her battered body badly damaged. She will require surgery and will never be the same. Senior year, college, career will be put on hold but the young man who attacked her is caught. Both lived in same neighborhood and most likely attended the same schools but the schools and classes are very big in this suburb, so it is likely that they did not meet one another. The lawyer’s defense is that his client is mentally handicapped and has no idea of what he did while she lays in a coma in a hospital bed, her pretty face marred and the doctors uncertain whether she is brain damaged. His attorney states his client never had a chance and reminds the jury that the glass was always “half-full” for him growing up with a single mom and an abusive father. But the jury sees the same truth portrayed by the TV stations, media, etc. They convict him and he is sentenced to prison for many years while her friends and family rally around her encouraging her. Progress is very slow as her body and mind are damaged. The attack left her unable to walk, talk, see or eat on her own. She had limited movement. It was a very brutal crime. Maybe he should stay in jail until she walks again. He was scheduled for 65 years in prison for two attacks.
There are very bad things out there. What can we tell our children to help them emerge from childhood to adulthood? We can share with them that sometimes the power of fear and the intuition is a tool. We can tell them to listen to their intuition … that sometimes the glass is not full for others … sometimes it takes years of living, time and experience to know when to heed your intuition or listen to your instincts. We can’t put away all the bad things out there but we can make them realize that we want our children to reach adulthood and no, we are not overreacting. Walk away if something makes you feel bad. Ignore that to do list. Listen to your gut.
Eve Dobbins was born in New York City and raised in a small town located in the Catskill Mountains where everyone knew your name. After graduating from Stony Brook University with an English degree, she spent several years working in Manhattan in the garment industry; as a real estate property appraiser with the city of New York and a girl Friday for local radio talk show host, Barry Farber, as well as a stint in the United States Navy. Her favorite authors are Lee Child, Lisa Unger, and Ann Rule. Her favorite quote for inspiration is “Everyone has two eyes but no one has the same view” (Wael Harakeh). Her husband is her co-conspirator in writing and baking which paved the way for Cupcake Cache, a gourmet cupcakerie which closed in 2015. Mrs. Dobbins has a MA in TESOL and has lived and worked in Asia and the Middle East. Presently, she makes a living as an English teacher. She was named in August 2017 “Poet of the Month” by “The Horror Zine.”