by Naomi Quezada
The room reeked of aging takeout and cigarettes. Abi sat with her head hanging staring at her bandaged wrists. They itched leaving her with the need to rip the bandages off, and scratch until relief came. She shivered goose bumps rising on her. It had been an hour since being led into the interview room.
Tony was delaying the interview, insuring everyone handled her with care and profession. He viewed her as something to be fixed, a problem that required a resolution. Abi recognized she could not be fixed by Tony’s solution oriented agenda; she was beyond repair.
Abi had told him not to join the interview or watch. He nodded and agreed with disappointment in his eyes. It wasn’t her goal to upset him or make more distance between them that six years of absence had created. But she couldn’t face him, look into his eyes and show him her scars. Someday Tony would learn the truth of her missing six years and the sins she carried. And when the time came, she’d bear her shame, but it was too soon, her wounds were still to raw.
Abi’s mouth watered with nervous energy. She placed her face onto the cool metal table. Closed her eyes, took a deep breath and attempted to suppress the emotions that had been emerging since her return. Six years locking away feelings made for a harsh experience when those feelings came roaring to the surface.
The door clicked with Detective Rodriguez entering the room. Abi sat up plastering on a face of indifference. A sympathetic smile crossed Rodriguez’s face as he shut the door and took a seat.
“How are you?”
Rodriguez handed Abi a water bottle, taking a drink of his own. She shrugged her shoulders as she looked at her wrists pulling at her shirtsleeves in attempt to hide the bandages. It was silly to try to hide. Rodriguez had been there when she had been rescued and had seen the damage she inflicted upon herself.
“I’ll be completing your statement and asking a few questions today.”
Abi nodded eyes never lifting from her lap.
“I will record the interview on the video camera.”
Abi glanced up, looking behind Rodriguez to the mirror-window.
Rodriguez kept his eyes on her, “I spoke with Tony. I explained that right now you need a husband more than a detective. I don’t think he was happy about the conversation but he left to get some coffee. As for everyone else I’ve cleared the room. It’s just you and me.” Rodriguez said compassion in his eyes.
Abi looked up to Rodriguez watching her.
When she first learned Tony had accomplished his boyhood dream of being a Detective, it gave her great joy and she was happy for him. But pain seared her heart also to know she should have been part of that dream. They had planned to walk in life together, helping each other. Now she stood broken with nothing to offer but heartache and misery.
“I know you’ve heard this, but it will be ok. You will get your life back.”
Abi stared at him exhaustion coming over her from everyone’s weak attempts at comfort.
“My life has been taken from me, thrown away. All that’s left is faded memories and smashed dreams. If I do get any life back it will be a mock version of what I once had. It can never be the same because I’m not the same.”
They stared at each, daring the other to continue the conversation. Rodriguez gave in first looking at his notepad.
“Well let’s get started,” Rodriguez said, “The questions may appear redundant, but I have to ask; its part of protocol.”
Abi drew a breath, opened her mouth, and froze. She hadn’t spoken her full name in six years. She didn’t believe she deserved to use Tony’s last name any more. The thought of using her maiden name surfaced, but that only would insight more questions.
“Abigail Delvino,” she said with a shaky voice.
“When did you first meet Ismael Guzman?”
Bile raised in her throat; the urge to leave the room and run away becoming more prevalent. If the interview stopped Tony would reason she couldn’t handle the stress. He’d insist on being involved more, and Tony involved more was one thing she was not able to handle. Abi bit the inside of her mouth until the metallic taste hit her tongue, and her emotions calmed.
“I met Ismael at the bakery I used to work for.”
“The night of the abduction?”
“No, a different night. We spoke for a few minutes before he left to speak with Raphael, the bakery owner.”
“So you didn’t see him again till the abducted?”
Memories of that night assaulted her. Abi had placed her memories behind locked doors ensuring sanity for the last six years. Now she walked the hall unlocking the doors, and that scared her.
“That is correct.”
Rodriguez continued to write before opening a file.
“We found photos in Ismael’s office and need to understand why he had them.”
Rodriguez pulled the photos out of the file placing them on the table. Abi watched as he laid the photos upon the table. He observed her more than the photos, waiting for her reaction.
“Do you recognize these photos?” he asked.
Abi looked over the photos, taking a deep breath, the door to the memory opening.
Dust lifted everywhere trapping her from seeing and blocking any ability to move forward. Five days out in the desert and that last sprint drawing what energy remained leaving her legs heavy and her chest heaving from exertion. Abi sensed Ismael stood just beyond, waiting till the dust calmed before making his presence known. She looked around trucks blocked any hope of escape.
“Abigail, when will you learn,” he bellowed to make sure she took heed of him, “I had to cancel a business trip to come and retrieve you. This is a terrible inconvenience; you know I dislike disruptions.”
Ismael stepped through the remaining dust, hands inside his suit pockets, irritation on his face.
“You appear as though you’re ready to go home, let’s go, get in the car,” turning he walked toward the car.
Abi anchored herself in place resolving not to go freely. If he wanted her, then she’d be dragged kicking and screaming. Ismael’s men surrounded her; dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion crippled her, but damn him if she’d cooperate.
Ismael paused when he sensed no movement turning back, glaring at her.
“Abigail, don’t play games you can’t win,” he paused, “I know where he is,” he smirked as the words left him.
Mind foggy from fatigue, she processed what Ismael had said.
Ismael turned to his men speaking. Abigail didn’t hear what he said busy thinking of Tony. She tried not to dwell on him; it hurt too much. Unable to handle the pain, she pushed his thoughts deep inside her. Hoping one day; she might find peace in his memories.
“Abigail if you don’t get into this car and stop this foolishness. If you make me come over there, I will not punish you but him. I will cause great physical harm, along with crushing his soul; the choice is yours.”
She looked at Ismael; he held something in his hand.
Tears did not come, but a sharp ache pierced her heart as it broke. Unable to fathom Ismael causing Tony anymore pain, her feet moved towards the fate awaiting her. When she reached him, he held out his hand with a stack of pictures. She grasped for them with shaky hands.
They were photos of Tony and his family. She viewed them with in-depth curiosity. Her fingers touched over his face, memorizing everything about his image. When she reached his eyes, she saw the pain that radiated from him. But, it was the next photo that sent her mind spinning and the rest of her heart shattering to the ground. Tony stood with a woman, laughing and holding her hand. The woman embodied loveliness, happiness exuded from her. A sob escaped before she could stop it.
“He has moved on in life; it is wise you follow suit.” Ismael seized the photos, grabbing her by the arm, leading them back to the car and her prison.
Abi continued to look through the photos, grasping for an anchor to pull her from the memory. The realization she could not hide from the truth washed over her. In order for her story to be told she would have to show her scars, let the light shine into the darkness. But she wasn’t ready for everyone to see who she had become. What the darkness had created in her years of captivity. Her scars were the only thing that nobody had touched, and they were hers.
Abi glanced up from viewing the photos, “No, I’ve never seen them.”