Soon after the doctor left, I am discharged. Outside of the hospital Lana is doting all over me, trying to get me back to her car. Even after the day I have just had, she is still determined not to hide our connection. She is kissing my head and stroking my arms. It would be impossible for those around us not to see that we are together.
“It’s okay,” she says. “I will take care of you until you are healed. You can stay with me a while. You don’t have to go home. You can move in with me.” She looks up at me beaming. I can tell how excited she is about the step she is taking by asking me to live with her. I am just not in that happy state of mind right now. She has no idea what it has been like for me. Now is not the time to discuss relationship steps. I am angry, and upset about what happened to me and that she thinks this is the right time to talk about this. I cannot do this anymore. I cannot stand to be around anyone. I do not want to be around her right now. I just want to be alone.
“Lana,” I begin trying to keep my emotions out of what I am about to say. She does not deserve the anger I feel. Not really. I know that, but I feel it any way. I need to be as gentle with her as I can while explaining that this is no longer right. “I can’t come live with you right now. I need to go home. I am taking a few days off to recuperate, and you have own life to live. Without me. Go on. I can take care of myself.”
The disappointment in Lana’s eyes is immediate, but my eyes must also be sending a secret message because she doesn’t question me. Giving in she asks, “How will you get home?”
“I am only a few blocks from here. My legs are fine, and it is still daylight out. The streets are busy with people. I will be safe.” I walk closer to Lana. I lean in and give her a light kiss on the cheek. “Thank you for being here.” And I walk away.
I know in that moment, it will be the last time I see her, but I cannot deal with that thought right now. Without her, I will be completely alone. I have no family since I moved from my home town in North Carolina to the Big City last year. I know if I called my Mom she would come stay with me for a few days, but I need to be alone now. I think to myself, maybe I deserve what happened to me. My way of life are the reason I am alone, and maybe they are the reason I was targeted for my attack.
As I walk towards my apartment my attention is focused on the thoughts in my head. I am not paying attention to my surroundings. Although there are lots of people around me, I finally feel alone. No one pays mind to another in this city. The way I like it best especially as a gay woman. I am especially grateful for this today. I am not feeling very chatty.
Just as I pass the coffee shop door, a woman walks through it causing us to bump right into each other. “Umpff,” I say as I try to catch my breath from the impact.
“Oh my goodness! I am so sorry!” the other girl says. “I was not watching where I was going. Please let me help…” she looks up at me, “…you. Wow, you are beautiful. Oh, sorry if that was forward, but you are.” She must be crazy if she thinks I am beautiful. I can only imagine how ragged I must look after just leaving the hospital despite the nurses and Lana trying to help me clean up.
I look up at her and look into her eyes. Before I can speak, she begins again. “Wait! Are you okay? I know we don’t know each other, but something is definitely wrong. My name is Jane. It looks like you need this more than me.” Handing me her coffee, I hesitate to take it from her.
A little taken aback, I say to Jane, “I am not exactly in a place for company right now. I am just on my way home. Thanks for the coffee.” I begin walking toward my apartment again, but I am quickly joined by Jane. “What are you doing? I told you I wasn’t up for company.”
“Don’t think of me as company. You look like you could use a friend today. We don’t have to talk about it, but just let me walk with you,” Jane says while keeping pace with me. “I am pretty stubborn. I won’t take no for an answer.”
I look up at her and despite everything, I smile. It turns out she was right. I cannot be alone right now, but I could not be near Lana anymore. After I sent her away, I just did not have anyone else to turn to. “Thank you.”
We walked together towards my apartment, but once we got there, I could not force myself to go in. “Would you mind if we kept walking?” I ask Jane. “I do not want to stop yet.”
“Of course. I will walk as long as you like, Eeyore,” she responds. I stare at her. “I’m sorry,” she says touching my cheek gently. Rubbing her thumb over the bandage causing me to flinch a little. “I just met you and I don’t know your name, but I already feel connected to you. I can tell that whatever happened to you was catastrophically bad. I can see the bandages, and I know the light in your eyes has dimmed. I was trying to cheer you up by downplaying the obvious. I do that when I am nervous. I like you, and I want to make the pain go away. I just thought if I call you after a book character who has the characteristics of being sad, but is most definitely not alone or any less loved, I may be able to make you forget for just a moment what it is that is bothering you. And maybe even make you smile.”
When she was done, we begin to walk again. I notice that the dreary, cloudy day had begun to clear and the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds. Having Jane near me had somehow made the day better on the outside, as well as, inside of me. Finally feeling like I could talk about what happened, I opened my mouth and said to her, “I was attacked and raped.”
Jane said nothing. Honestly there is nothing anyone can say to make it better, but once again she surprised me. With a silence that was warming me, she reached out, grabbed my hand and squeezed. She didn’t let go for the rest of the walk. We walked all day.
To be continued…