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~ Chapter Twenty-Eight ~
Arianna lay stiff as a board in the huge king-size bed. The sound of Justin’s even breathing soothed her frazzled nerves a little, but not completely.
She turned her head and had to giggle a bit. A huge line of pillows separated her side of the bed from his. He really was a sweetheart. God had been looking out for her on that one. She smiled and turned completely over, facing the door.
One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four. Why had He let the kidnapping happen in the first place? The question added to her active mind’s inability to let her sleep.
She thought about the tattered Bible she’d found under the mattress when she’d first been thrown in the room in the basement. Remembering the urine-stained mattress caused a shutter to pass through her.
“You okay, Ari?”
Justin’s sleep-laced question caused shivers to run down her spine at his thoughtfulness. She could remember not liking that nickname when she was little, but somehow, when he said it, it gave her comfort.
“Yes, go back to sleep.”
She lay still for a few moments, until his breath returned to its previous even intervals. Now, where was she? Oh yeah. The mattress. No, she wouldn’t think about that right now. The Bible. That was an okay subject.
She’d started reading it that first terror-filled night, screaming in fear and anger when the light went out, leaving the damp, nasty little room black. The darkness had been so thick she’d thought she’d smother. She’d cried out to God. “Dear God, please save me. Please don’t let him hurt me,” she remembered pleading.
But He hadn’t listened, or at least hadn’t given the answer she wanted. ‘The Monster’ hurt her over and over for the next several years. Too many times to count. She tried to pull her mind away from the memories, but they flooded through. At first she’d been mad at God. She’d ripped pages out of the book and wadded them up in little balls. She’d thrown them at the mice when the lights were out and they scurried by her.
She snorted in abhorrence when ‘the monster’s’ face popped into her mind, his scary mask taunting her.
She’d seen Phantom of the Opera once, or at least part of it, when she’d been really little. Her mom sent her upstairs for a nap, but she’d snuck back down and sat at the bottom of the steps and watched the old movie. She liked the phantom then, but now she didn’t. She feared him. And…and, was attached to him in some strange way. Her thoughts had automatically put the monster back in her mind’s eye. Would she ever be free of him? Silent tears of heartbreak and confusion slid down her cheeks.
Determined to exorcise him from her mind, she tried to count sheep again. One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four.
She flopped onto her back. It was no use. She couldn’t sleep.
The question haunted her once more. Why did God let bad things happen to her? What had she done? Why hadn’t He answered her prayers?
She whispered, “Why God?”
Her thoughts turned back to the captivity she’d endured. After the first week of horror, she’d picked up each page she’d wadded up and straightened them out as best she could and placed them back in the Bible. She started reading about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, and even Moses. It took her mind off her own ordeal as she became immersed in their problems, and then how each one overcame them and turned to God. It gave her hope, and she held onto that.
After several years of suffering at the hands of a mad-man, a disgusting pedophile of the worst kind, she began to dream of the day she would be free. If only she could endure this testing God put on her, she would be an overcomer, too. In that moment, she’d known she was His child. No matter what happened, she was His, and He was her God, and she would prevail. With God’s help, of course. She smiled. There was gold in every situation, and she’d received the best kind.
‘The monster’ began being nicer to her around that same time. He even allowed her to come downstairs late at night and sit on the couch to watch movies. On her chain, of course.
As if on cue, her ankle began to ache. She pulled her thin leg up and massaged it with equally bony fingers.
Dear Lord, please help me get over this and focus on you and my son. Oh, and my husband, too.
She smiled. Things were looking up.
Justin turned over and flopped an arm over her body and pulled her back against his chest.
Arianna panicked. She flailed her arms and tried to pull free. “No! Stop! Let me go!”
The arms tightened, but gently.
“Sh…it’s okay, Ari. It’s just me. Relax. Try to get some sleep.”
He began rubbing her back in soothing circles and her body relaxed into his.
As she finally began drifting into sleep, she whispered into the dark, “Thank you, Dear Lord.”