Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Before the Always, Part 2

“Lydia.”  Leiutenant Baker knocked on his daughter’s bedroom door.  “There’s a boy here to see you.”
“I’ll be right there, Daddy.  Give me two minutes.”
“I’ll tell him five.”
Lydia opened her door and smiled.  “Daddy, I’m your daughter.  When I say two minutes I mean two minutes.”  She wagged her finger.  “And not a minute more.”
“That’s my girl.”
“Who’s here?”
“Says his name is Jimmy.  You’re supposed to help him with some homework he has.”
“Oh, right.  I almost forgot.”  She grabbed her book bag and ran down the stairs.  Lt. Baker followed after her.  “And what do you mean who’s here?  Is there more than one boy I should know about?”
 Jimmy was sitting at the kitchen table drawing circles with his finger on the oak.  When he saw Lt. Baker walk in before Lydia he stood up.  Lydia’s face reddened.  She knew that Jimmy had heard the question.  She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked at Jimmy. “No, sir.  No one else.”  She hoped that Jimmy got the message that she didn’t want her daddy to know anything about the football game the other night.
“Okay, sweetheart, just checking.”  He walked by her and kissed the top of her head.  As he walked by Jimmy, he put his hand on his shoulder.  Jimmy could feel the warning in the Lieutenant’s strong grip.“At ease, Jimmy.  Just because I walk in the room doesn’t mean you have to stand up.  Although, it is nice to know I still hold that power over some people.”
“Yes, sir.”  Jimmy sat back down in the chair.  Lydia went to sit the chair across from him.  She’d move after her daddy left the room. Lt. Baker walked on and headed for the kitchen counter.
“Daddy, be nice.”
“What?  I was.”  He reached on the counter for a can of Coke and popped the top.  “I’ll let you two get to whatever it is you’re doing.”
“Homework, Daddy.  Just homework.”
Lt. Baker raised his eyebrows and looked over at Jimmy.  The tips of Jimmy’s ears reddened.  “Mmhmm.”  He looked back to Lydia.  “You know the rules, Lydia.  Gone by ten.”
“Yes, sir.”
“ And not a minute more.”
Lydia stood on her tip toes and kissed her dad on the cheek.  “I know, Daddy.”  Lt. Baker walked out of the room and Lydia moved into the seat next to Jimmy.
“So, you’re a daddy’s girl, aren’t you?”
“You’d be, too, if you met my mother.”
“Um, I don’t think I’d ever be a daddy’s girl.  I have the wrong equipment.”
Lydia burst out laughing. 
“My gosh, you’re so pretty when you smile.”  He forgot to keep that comment in his head.  Lydia looked down at the table and grabbed something out of her book bag.
“Friends, Jimmy.”
“C’mon, Lyddie, let me take you on a date.”
“Geometry, Jimmy.  That’s the deal.”
“Screw geometry.  I work on cars and play football. I don’t need geometry. I need a date with you!”  He pounded his fist on the table and Lydia jumped. Lydia’s cheeks turned bright red.  Jimmy rubbed his forehead.  He was totally out of line and he knew it.  Lydia wouldn’t go for his straight forwardness.  “I’m sorry, Lyddie.  I shouldn’t have said that.”
“My daddy would have a heart attack if he heard you talk like that to me,” Lydia remarked.
“Don’t tell him I said that, then.  I want to stay on his good side.”  He put a hand on top of Lydia’s.  “Yours, too.”  He winked.
“Geometry, Jimmy.”  She shoved her book towards him while slipping her hand out from underneath his.
“Yes, the wonderful world of geometry,” Jimmy grumbled.
“Pythagoreas and his theorem are waiting.”
Jimmy rubbed his hands together.  “We should all be so lucky,” he said not hiding the sarcasm from his voice. 
“Give it a chance,” Lydia remarked.
“When you give me a chance, I will.”

“You sure are hanging out a lot with Jimmy Brown,” Jenni noted as they walked to the sidelines of the football field.  “You dating, yet?”
“Why not?”
“Because we’re just friends.”
“Not from what I’ve heard.”  Lydia looked over at Jenni.  She knew that Jenni didn’t hear anything, she said what other people heard.  Jimmy told her that Jenni liked spreading rumors and making others look bad.  Lydia didn’t believe him at first, but the more she was at school, the more she noticed people whispering behind her back.  She hoped the rumors from her old school hadn’t followed her to the new one.
Those rumors were horrible rumors.  She went to school on a Marine base and most of the students at the school were boys.  The boys all wanted something from Lydia.  She’d gone on several dates with some of them, but the boys always tried something with her.  She wouldn’t go for it.  First, her parents would kill her if she did anything to disgrace their family.  Her family held morals and high values.  If Lydia did anything unacceptable, she would be in big trouble.  Second, she wasn’t ready to do anything with boys.  She just wanted to have fun and hang out.  Those boys tried everything they could to get her to do something with them.  When she refused, her dates made her out to be cold hearted or even worse, told lies that she did do something with them.  Because she had been on several dates with several different guys, the rumor was she couldn’t say no and she was easy.  She hoped that rumor stayed where it started and never made it to Riley.  She wanted to just be the new girl without any baggage with her.
Of course, there were still some things that were hidden from Jenni, like what happened on the football field the other night. Lydia watched the football players line up on the field for warm ups.  She still kept her eyes peeled for anyone suspicous.  When she didn’t see anyone, she excused herself and ran to the nearest bathroom.  This kept happening every home football game.  Before, she would make it to the game, she’d think about what happened a few weeks before which only made her angry.  When she was angry, she ate.  Her size eight figure couldn’t take all the food she would eat.  When she got to the football field and looked at the football players, she would go nauseous from all the food she ate and the nerves tightened her stomach and she would  have to find the nearest bathroom so she could throw up.  When she got done, she walked back to the sidelines.
“Are you sick, Lydia?”  Jenni asked.
Lydia shook her head.
“Oh, I get it.  That’s why you had to move.”  Jenni filled her cheeks with air and made a rounded motion with her hands over her belly.
“No!  Never!”
“Don’t worry.  Your secret’s safe with me.”  Jenni winked.
“I’m not-“
“Shh!  If Coach Jones finds out, she’ll kick you off the squad.”
“But, there’s no reason to.  I’m not having-“
“Ladies, we’re supposed to be cheering, not chatting.”
Jenni smiled.  “Sorry, Coach.  We’ll get back to it.”
“Good.”  The coach turned back to talk to one of the parents sitting in the bleachers.
“Are you going to keep it?”
“Jenni, stop.  I’m not pregnant.”
“Well, you’ve been throwing up every week.  What else could it be?”
“I don’t know.   Just leave me alone, okay.  I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Wow, way to show your team spirit,” Jenni mumbled.
“Yep, that’s me.  Go, fight win.  Rah, rah, rah,” Lydia remarked sarcastically.  She shook one of her pom poms in the air weakly.  The football coach gave orders for the team to get on the sidelines.  Lydia turned around and saw Jimmy come up next to her.
“Hey, QB1.  Gonna win tonight?”  She smiled waiting for his answer.
“That’s the plan.”  He smiled back.
“Good luck.”  She reached up and gave Jimmy a friendly hug from the side.
Coach Grayson blew his whistle to get the team huddled up before the game.
“Gotta go, but one more thing.”  Jimmy’s eyes twinkled.
“Got my geometry test back yesterday.”
“Oh, yeah?”
He walked backward towards the team.  “Miracles happen, Lyddie.”  He raised his hands to the side.  “That’s all I’m saying.”
Lydia shook her head.  “Hopeless, Jimmy Brown.  Hopeless.”
“We’ll talk after the game,” he yelled at her as he turned around and got into the middle of the huddle.

The game went into OT that night.  They were playing cross town rivals and it was always a close game.  The game didn’t end until nine o’clock.  Lydia was walking in the dark by herself.  She knew she shouldn’t do that after what happened the last time, but she didn’t really feel like talking to anyone.  Jenni was still hung up on Nick Stokes and she told Lydia she was going to make her move on him tonight.  Lydia said she’d find a ride home and left Jenni to do whatever it was she was planning.  She was on her way to the fieldhouse to get her cell phone to call her dad, when she felt a hand slip around her waist and pull her into the darkness.
“Don’t scream.”  A voice she recognized from the other night warned her. “You thought you could get your friend, Jimmy to get me kicked off the team didn’t you?  Well, I’ve got news for you little girl.  Your plans didn’t work.”
The football player turned her around.  She was face to face with him now.  He had her backed up against the wall and his hands tightly gripped her arms so she couldn’t get out of them. “Let me go!  You’re hurting me!” she yelled.
“Now, we’re going to finish what we started the other night.”
“No!  You let me go.”  Lydia tried to wriggle her arms out of the football player’s grip, but didn’t have any luck.  “Please,” she pleaded.  The football player squeezed tighter around her arms so she couldn’t move.  “Let me go.”  Her voice faded.  She felt like giving up.  He was too strong for her.  She couldn’t give up, though.  She forced herself to try to think of something that would get the jerk of a football player to leave her alone.  What was it those Marines had told her?  Her thoughts jumbled in her head and she was having a hard time remembering anything.  She closed her eyes, so she wouldn’t have to look at the face in front of her.  Maybe that would help her to remember.
He leaned in closer and whispered in her ear.  “I like it when you play hard to get, Lydia.  Tell me no again.”  He shoved her to the ground and hovered on top of her.  “C’mon, girl, open those legs up for business.”  He slid his hand down between her legs and tried to pull them apart.  She kept her legs squeezed tightly together.  She reached down to push his hands away, but he grabbed her wrists again.  “This is my show now, Lydia.  You do what I say and it’ll be over before you know it.  It’ll only hurt, if you make it hurt.” 
“Stop it!” Lydia pleaded. “Please, stop.”  Tears slipped from the corner of her eyes and ran down the side of her face. Boys had never forced themselves on her like this.  She didn’t know what to do.  They were jerks all the time, but never like this.  She had to think of a way to get away from the guy. Twist your arms down to get out his grip. She finally remembered something, but the football player held tight.  She couldn’t get her wrists out of his hands.  She was frustrated.  She just wanted to go home.  Tears welled up in her eyes.
The football player looked at her and rubbed away the tears with his thumb.  “Ah, don’t cry,” he said in a sweet tone and then just as quickly turned into an evil tone,  “it ruins your pretty face.”
“Don’t do this.”  She shook her head.  “I don’t want to do this.”
The football player ran his hands along the side of her body.  She shuddered.  “I wouldn’t have to if you would’ve kept your mouth shut.”  His hand slid underneath her uniform and she whimpered.  Why couldn’t she remember all the things her daddy had taught her?
“Don’t worry.  It’ll be over in a few minutes.”
“Don’t touch me!” she screamed. “No one gets to touch me like that, you jerk!  Get your hands off me!”  She felt the back of her attackers hand across her face.  Her cheek stung.
“Shut up! Just stop talking!”  He leaned closer and she felt the hairs on her neck stand on end at the warmth of his breath close to her.  “No one can hear you now anyway.  They’re all gone.”  He tugged at her uniform to get it off.  He looked back into Lydia’s eyes and grinned an evil grin.  “Where’s your precious friend Jimmy now, Lydia?”
“I want to go home,” she whimpered.  At home, her daddy would be there.  At home her daddy would protect her from anyone or anything that even tried to hurt her.  She remembered now.  The elbow is the strongest part of your body.  Use it.  Of course!  She took her elbow and rammed it into her attacker’s face.  When he was hunched over on top of her, she brought her knee up and made contact with his groin.  He fell over to his side and she ran until she reached the girl’s locker room.  She pulled on the door until she got it to open and hurried inside after locking the door.  When she found a mirror, she looked at herself and bit her lip.  Her face was smeared with mascara, her clothes were torn, and there was a red handprint where he had hit her.  She looked around and made sure no one was in the room with her and headed for the shower.  She had to get the feel of his hands off  her.  She turned the shower on as hot as it would go and sudsed up until her skin felt raw.  She couldn’t tell where the tears ended and the shower began at some points.  When she was finished, she grabbed her cell phone out of her duffle bag and dialed the only person she trusted besides her daddy.
“Jimmy?”  her voice was quiet and she was still crying.  She could hear music playing and talking in the background.
“Lyddie?”  She knew it was hard for him to hear.  He probably had to cover one ear, so he could hear her.
“I need-“  she swallowed back the sobs.  “I need you to take me home.”
“Where are you?”
“At the fieldhouse.  Please hurry.”
“What’s wrong, Lyddie?”
“Not now.  Just please come get me. Please.”
“All right.  I’ll be there in five minutes.”  Jimmy hung up the phone, found Stokes to tell him to find a ride home, and sped back to the fieldhouse.  He found Lydia hugging her knees to her chest sitting beside the water fountain.  He knelt down in front of her.
“Are you all right?”
Lydia shook her head.  “You’re too late, Jimmy.  You’re too late.”
He cupped his hand around her arm.  A friendly gesture, he thought.  She was upset and he just wanted to see her smile. “What happened?”
“Don’t touch me!  I just spent an hour scrubbing his hands off me.  Don’t touch me!”
Jimmy pulled his hand away from her arm.  “Who, Lyddie?”
Lydia turned her head to the side so she wasn’t looking at Jimmy.  She couldn’t let him see how weak she was.  She was angry with herself for letting it happen and she didn’t want Jimmy to look at her.  “He did it again.”
Jimmy scrunched his face up. “Who?  Tell me what happened.”
Lydia bit her lip.  “Just take me home, please.  I want to go home.”
“Okay.”  Jimmy stood up and offered his hand to her to help her up.  She wouldn’t take it.  She stood up on her own and walked over to his truck.  She didn’t wait for him to open the door for her, but got in and slammed the door.  Jimmy grabbed the letter jacket sitting next to him and handed it to her. “Heat’s not fixed, yet.”
“Thanks.”  She wrapped herself up in the coat and stared out the window while Jimmy drove.  Every once in awhile, he heard a muffled sob Lydia was trying to swallow.  He wanted to reach over and hold her hand, but he knew that wouldn’t help her at all.  Those sobs ripped through his body and tore his heart into pieces.  He never wanted to hear her cry like that.  He banged his fist on the steering wheel before pulling in the driveway to her house.  Whoever or whatever did this to Lydia wasn’t going to get away with it easily.  Jimmy walked over to open Lydia’s door to let her out. She didn’t move.
“Lyddie, we’re here.”
“I can’t go in there.  My mama won’t listen to me and she’ll tell my daddy that-“
Jimmy leaned on the doorframe of the truck.  “What are you talking about, Lyddie?”
Lydia peeked around Jimmy and saw her mom coming towards them.  “Nevermind.”  Jimmy turned around and took a deep breath.  Staring back at him was what Lydia would look like in twenty years.  Her mom was beautiful.  Black  hair hung down to to just passed her shoulders.  Her high cheekbones accented her deepset brown eyes.  He could see why Lydia looked so striking.
“Mrs. Baker?”
“She won’t get out of the truck.”  He stepped aside and let Mrs. Baker try to talk her daughter out of the vehicle.  Lydia wouldn’t say anything to her.
“Where’s Daddy?” she asked.
“He’s in the garage building something or changing the oil.  I don’t know exactly what.”
“You’re fighting again, aren’t you?”  Lydia crossed her arms and stared out the front window.
“No, sweetheart, we’re not fighting.”
Lydia narrowed her eyes and looked at her mama.  “Not talking is the same thing, Mama!  Why won’t you talk to him?”
Jimmy looked over at the garage and saw a disgruntled Lt. Baker coming towards the truck while wiping his hands with a shop rag.  He furrowed his eyebrows and looked at Jimmy, then Lydia.
“What’s going on?” he growled.
Lydia jumped out of the truck and ran to her dad.  She wrapped her arms around him. “Daddy, he hurt me.”
Lt. Baker looked at Jimmy.  Lydia saw the look of dismay on her dad’s face.  “Not, Jimmy, Daddy.  Somebody else.  He was big and strong, and he had an ugly face.  I don’t even know his name.”
Jimmy smirked for a moment.  She had just described the entire defensive line of the Riley Warriors football team.  His smirk turned into a frown quickly when he looked up and saw Lydia holding onto her dad for dear life. “What did he do?” Jimmy asked.
Lydia buried her face in her dad’s chest.  “I don’t want to go back.  Don’t make me go back there.”
Lt. Baker put a hand on either side of his daughter’s face and looked her in the eyes.  “Sweetheart, tell Daddy what happened.”
“He grabbed me and pushed me down on the ground and then he-“
“I don’t wan t to hear this,” Mrs. Baker interrupted. 
“Then, don’t listen, Shelly,” Lt. Baker snapped.  “You’re getting really good at not listening.  It should be a piece of cake for you to just walk away and not listen to anything.”  Mrs. Baker threw her hands in the air and turned to walk away.
“What else, baby girl?” Lt. Baker asked.
“He put his hands on me.”  Lydia closed her eyes and bit her lip.  She couldn’t find the words to tell her daddy what happened.  She didn’t want him to know how far the boy had got before she stopped it.  That would disappoint him and she knew it.
Jimmy’s face twitched and the muscles in his jaw flexed.  “Like the other night, Lyddie?”
“What other night?” Lt. Baker asked.  No one answered his question.
“Worse, Jimmy.”
Jimmy pounded his fist on the bed of his truck and cursed.  “I told them to leave you alone, Lyddie.  I swear I did.  I even told Coach.  I know you told me not to, but I couldn’t let them do that to you.”
“Lydia, what happened the other night?” Lt. Baker asked.
“I don’t want to stay here, Daddy!  Don’t make me stay here!”  She pounded on his chest with both of her fists and then ran inside. 
Jimmy didn’t move.  He kept his eyes straight ahead and spoke.  “A few of the guys from the football team haven’t been very nice to her.”
Lt. Baker bore his eyes into Jimmy and poked his finger into his chest.  “I want their names, I want their positions, I want their parents’ names.”  He slammed his hand against the doorframe of the truck.  “Nobody hurts my little girl and gets away with it.  Nobody.  Do you hear me?”
“Yes, sir.”
“I want you to find the  guy who did this and bring him here.”  He cracked his knuckles, but what from what Jimmy saw, Lt. Baker didn’t even know he was doing it.  “ I don’t care what time it is or how you have to do it. I’d like to have a nice little chat with him.”
Jimmy stared at the door Lydia had ran into.  “You can have what’s left of him when I’m done, sir.”  He got in the truck and sped off before Lt. Baker could respond.