A HAND TOUCHED DONNA’S ARM AS SHE WALKED PAST. She shuddered
slightly, then heard a familiar posh almost public school voice calling her name.
David Wallace, her boss. Closing her eyes for a second, she muttered, Oh no! under
‘Got a minute?’ he asked, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
‘Sure David – is there a problem?’ Her heart sank, as she glanced up at the
clock behind him. It was already five past five. Why did he always do this to her just
as she was about to leave?
‘Yeah - it’s this customer report of yours. I think we need to have a chat about
the analysis you’ve made. One or two of the trends you’ve shown seem a little
unusual, to say the least.’
‘OK, let me get my notes,’ she said with a frown.
‘Bring them to my office, would you?’
Gritting her teeth, she realized what this would mean. A dissection of her whole
analysis, bit by bit; which knowing David, would probably tear two weeks’ work to
She went back to her desk to fetch the necessary paperwork, cursing him for
doing this to her yet again. The realisation of how meticulous he was, made her fear
the chances of her leaving before six o’clock were virtually nil. Just what she didn’t
need, when she was supposed to be going out with Blake at seven-thirty, to celebrate
their forthcoming engagement.
David gave her a little smile on her return, making her cringe.
‘Pull up a chair, Donna.’
Sitting down, paperwork in front of her, Donna proceeded to try to clarify her
Every minute detail had to be explained, so determined was he to find out
exactly what she’d done. All the figures had been checked and rechecked, so there
couldn’t be a mistake in her analysis – could there? As time passed her nerves began
Her fingers moved up and down on his desk, and she almost felt like crying, as
David droned on and on, with no apparent conception of how late it was. The clock
on the wall struck six-fifteen. The man just wouldn’t shut up. It seemed like he didn’t
want to go home. Which wasn’t surprising really, considering he lived on his own
and appeared to live and breathe work, and expected everyone else to do the same.
Ever since he’d interviewed her for the Statistical Analyst job, two years ago,
she’d noticed his keen interest in her work. Obviously having seen something
beyond her supposed beauty. But now she suspected this interest was more than just
To his credit, he knew his subject inside out, but when he managed to find a
couple of little errors that changed her analysis completely, she could have died.
How stupid must she have looked right in front of him. God knows what he thought.
Finally he stood up and smiled faintly, much to her relief. ‘All right Donna,
let’s call it a day, shall we? Thanks for staying behind, I really appreciate it.’
‘Sorry I messed up.’ She gathered up her papers as she rose.
‘Think nothing of it. We all make mistakes, don’t we? Even me, believe it or
not. Have a good night.’ He gave her a warm smile, then hesitated as if he was about
to say something else. But he didn’t. Nevertheless, she felt slightly uncomfortable,
as on occasions she’d caught him gazing at her. If ever he’d asked her out – heaven
forbid - she’d die! Thank goodness he didn’t, she thought as she made to leave.
‘Donna!’ His voice was loud, and made her jump and turn round. ‘Can I give
you a lift?’
The colour on her face began to rise again. ‘Er...well...’
‘It’s on my way home – honestly.’ He stared at her with a slight grin on his
‘No, it’s all right, but thanks anyway.’ She quickened her pace, almost running
towards the main office door.
‘Oh come on, Donna...’ he shouted after her, but she didn’t stop. Didn’t dare.
Or was she just overreacting to his friendly gesture?
Making her way hurriedly down the corridor, she reached the lift, pressed the
button, and waited for it to arrive. It seemed to take forever – her heart thumped
against her chest, fearing she’d miss her train. At last the lift arrived. Once she was
inside, she drummed her nails on the chrome handrail as the floors ticked away, took
out her phone and tried to get in touch with Blake, but couldn’t get through to him.
Finally the doors slid open, Donna rushed through, still annoyed at herself for
Walking out of the building she was surprised to see how dark it was. Then
heard the sound of someone’s footsteps clattering behind her. Oh my God, was
somebody following her? But when she glanced round there was no one there. Then
walking on, she heard it again. Closing her eyes for a second, she sighed, thinking
she was getting paranoid, then quickened her step, intent on getting to the station as
quickly as possible.
This was all David’s fault – for not being willing to accept the fact she didn’t
want a lift, and making her feel on edge. When people got overfriendly like that, she
felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. Why they thought her attractive, she couldn’t
work out, even though she’d been told this from an early age. There’d always been
remarks about her slender figure and turquoise eyes.
Walking briskly now, and looking at her watch, she thought it might just be
possible to make the six forty-five train back to their flat; leaving her just half an
hour to get ready. But it’d be a close run thing.
She crossed the main road, hurrying towards the subway, glad the sound of
footsteps seemed to have gone. Hopefully whoever it was had given up or she was
Dusk was fast approaching, the streets were deserted and grey. A spot of rain
pricked her forehead. She pulled her jacket together and hurried to the mouth of the
subway where the muffled words to `Let it Bè rang out. The entrance looked empty
and dim apart from the busker sitting cross-legged on the pavement. His out of tune
guitar sounded so bad it made his voice sound good. Donna smiled to herself as her
heels clicked on the concrete.
Although walking through this subway made her feel a little nervous, she was
in a hurry. No way did she want to be late for the meal. Blake would think... she
didn’t know what he’d think. At times he had problems dealing with other men liking
her, no matter how many times she reassured him. But the idea he might consider
David Wallace a rival was too ridiculous for words.
If only she could contact Blake, it wouldn’t matter. She pressed the keypad on
her mobile again, intending to let him know she was running late, but his phone still
seemed to be switched off. Shit.
At the end of the subway, she saw a figure standing there, his head covered by
a hood. As he coughed, a hand appeared in front of his face. The lights above him
were bright, but Donna didn’t look his way until he suddenly spoke.
‘Got the time darling?’ His muffled words made her jump.
He sounded young. There was a strange sweet smell close by him, which made
her want to puke and quickly get by.
It was six-forty, leaving her five minutes to get to the station.
‘Nearly quarter to seven,’ she mumbled, scurrying past.
As she hurried on out of the subway towards Dexford train station, suddenly,
out of nowhere, she felt an arm bend and tighten round her neck, dragging her into
a long narrow alley, that stank of stale pee and uncollected garbage. She started
gurgling at once, finding it almost impossible to scream or breathe, when a gloved
hand closed around her nose and mouth. Terror spread through her body as she
panicked and struggled to get free. Was this a mugging or something much worse?
Oh my God, don’t hit me, she prayed. Best give him whatever she had, and hope
he’d let her go.
He pulled her to one side and into one of the nearby derelict buildings, then
yanked her up by her long blond hair. A fist thumped into her stomach, causing her
to crumple and gasp in pain.
Wild large eyes glared at her through a balaclava helmet.
He snarled, then gave out a high-pitched chuckle as if he enjoyed frightening
her like this.
‘Oh no... please…leave me …alone. Take whatever you want… but please
don’t hurt me,’ she begged, pushing her handbag towards him. She tried to get up
but he grabbed hold of her again, his hand gripping her arm so tightly she winced in
‘Stuff your fucking money – pretty lady,’ he hissed in a strange gruff voice.
She began to tremble, and pleaded for mercy. Ignoring this, the man smashed
his fist into her face. Warm blood trickled down her nose. She whimpered, then he
struck her again several times in the ribs, and on the chin. The pain was so
excruciating, she could hardly draw breath.
She battled desperately to get up from the filthy debris filled floor to run. But
he was too quick, and caught her by her coat, forcing her back onto the ground. Soon
he was on top of her, kissing her roughly about the face as she tried to avoid his
horrible greasy lips. His gloved hands clutched her breasts hard, making her clench
her teeth and whine in agony. He ripped her blouse open. Buttons flew off in all
Donna sobbed, shockwaves of hysteria surged through her. Oh God, how she
wished someone would help her. This was unbearable, unreal - was he really going
to do this to her...surely not? How she wished Blake were here. Please...oh sweet
Jesus... help me, she thought. She’d rather die than have this happen. How could this
monster do this to her?
In her desperation, she raked his arm with her fingernails, then went to gouge
his eyes, but his hand grasped hers, wrenching it back with such force that she wept
in agony. The man laughed hideously at her futile efforts to stop him. He was so
strong, and could do whatever he wanted to her. She was simply too weak to prevent
it. Please God, make him stop.
Suddenly he moved his hand away, back towards his own body, and fumbled
with the zip of his trousers. She tried desperately to wriggle free, but he caught hold
of her ripped blouse, then slapped her on the face with the back of his hand. Her nose
felt numb and she could taste her own coppery blood. She tried to raise her head, but
he pressed his body down hard almost suffocating her.
As he continued, she closed her eyes, trying to shut out the horror of what was
happening to her. Unable to defend herself in any way, she just lay there passively,
wanting it over as quickly as possible. But it seemed to go on forever. And the pain
deep inside was torture, like some hot blunt instrument splitting her in two. She felt
his balaclava clad face close to her own, spit from his mouth trickled onto her cheek.
There remained a foul pungent sickly smell about him that repulsed her.
Finally, he uttered a great groan of exquisite pleasure, stopped, and giggled.
Donna shuddered, lying prostrate on the ground.
He got to his feet, breathing in deeply, and stared down at her. ‘How does it
feel? Bitch! Not so pretty now, are you, eh?’ He growled.
Cold eyes stared at her; and widened with desire again making Donna’s heart
flutter with dread. Her mouth flooded with sour saliva. She felt bile come up through
her throat. He began to kick her in the stomach, her legs, face, just about anywhere
– and when he’d finished, he looked down at her and gave out a high-pitched laugh
that almost sounded like a hyena, that same vile odour still on him, and then he was
Remaining on the ground, hardly able to move, relief at being alive passed
quickly. She needed to cover herself up. Her whole face felt as if it was swelling up
like a balloon - in fact she hurt all over, and found it difficult to breathe. Her private
area was deadened by what he’d done. Dear God – she felt so sick and dirty. Why
had this happened to her? If only she could wake up from this horrible dream.
It took some time, but at last she staggered to her feet, wrapping what was left
of her clothing tightly around her. Leaning against the wall, unsteadily she stumbled
forward out of the building.
When she heard what sounded like a gang of youths approaching, her heart
lifted slightly, in the hope they might assist her. They looked across at her, some of
them giggling, while others just looked the other way.
‘Please...help me,’ she begged, but they just made lewd remarks, before
walking past. Weeping, she found their behaviour incredible.
Donna didn’t see the man whose arms she finally fell into. She glimpsed a grey
beard, and a woman with her mouth gaping open.
‘Oh my God!’ the man exclaimed. ‘What on earth...?’
‘I…I…,’ she whispered, tears streaming down her blood soaked face.
‘Harold – she’s been attacked. Look at her face and clothes. Oh you poor thing.
Quickly - call the police and an ambulance!’ the woman shouted, covering Donna
with her coat. She placed an arm round her, and guided her out to a nearby bench.
Donna heard Harold mumble something into his mobile phone.
Shaking as if with ague, her body ached all over. As she glanced up, a crowd
of people had gathered, talking, staring as if she was some kind of freak show. Why
did they have to gawp at her like that? She just wanted them to go away and leave
her in peace?
Upon hearing the sirens of the ambulance, Donna was glad to see the flashing
lights. The ambulance stopped close to where she was sitting. Two figures dressed
in green uniforms emerged, and rushed through the crowd to her. One, a paramedic,
bent down and put an arm round her, and having introduced herself as Anne, began
to talk to her, but Donna could hardly take in what was being said. Finally Anne
helped Donna up and guided her towards the ambulance, then assisted her to climb
Lying down securely in the ambulance, Donna was relieved when the doors
closed and the vehicle left the scene of the attack. After what only seemed a few
minutes, they arrived at Dexford General Hospital.
From there she was taken to her own room, where she was undressed and
examined by a female doctor.
Eventually after they’d patched her up, she was allowed to wash herself in a
shower, which she did over and over again in the hope of ridding herself of the filth
all over her.
Once she was in bed and had taken the sedative the doctor had prescribed to
relax her, she drifted in and out of sleep, waking intermittently with vivid visions of
the man’s evil eyes and the wicked laugh behind his balaclava helmet.
Sometime later she got up and went to the en-suite bathroom. Staring at herself
in the mirror, she sobbed at her swollen face and bandaged nose. This brought it all
back to her, and again terror swept over her. That horrible man had made her feel
cheap and used, and believe she’d never be the same again. She wanted to die.
Back in her room, resting on top of the bed, she kept her eyes closed, wishing
the pain would go away. Hearing someone enter the room, she nervously opened her
puffed up eyes to see a plump policewoman with a round face, rosy cheeks and an
easy smile, standing before her.
‘Hallo Donna.’ Her voice was soft, her large grey eyes widening with concern
and compassion. ‘I’m Jill Meadows, Dexford police. Sorry to disturb you, at a time
like this. I know you need to get some rest and its late, but I just wondered if you
feel up to answering a few questions, about what happened to you.’
Donna didn’t answer, she just wanted to be left alone.
‘So how are you feeling?’ Jill asked finally.
Donna began to weep.
The police woman reached out to touch her hand, but Donna pulled back in a
‘Look, I can see you’re upset. You have every right to be. But you’re going to
be fine, no one can hurt you now. And I promise we’ll be working day and night to
find the man who did this to you. But to do that we need your help. I realise how
difficult this is, but we need to know exactly what happened while it’s still fresh in
your mind - I believe it could make a huge difference. Think you could do that for
Donna didn’t respond.
‘Please, Donna. I appreciate you’ve been through a terrifying ordeal, but it’s
vital you tell us whatever you can. Come on try - for me and all the other girls out
there, who might be at risk until he’s caught.’
‘I...I can’t talk about it.’ She shook her head rigorously, breathing in and out
‘I know you don’t want to, my dear, but if you try really hard you can – believe
me. There’s no point in bottling this up inside. Tell me about what he did to you. Or
his next victim might not live to tell the tale. Is that what you want?’
She began to shake violently, biting down hard on her bottom lip. Jill Meadows
was right. Donna knew she should talk about this, but it was so horrific, so
humiliating; she felt too ashamed to speak about it.
‘How about a drink Donna?’ Jill asked finally. After a few seconds silence
‘What do you fancy?’
Jill poured her a glass of water from the jug on her bedside table. Donna took a
small sip, then gave it back to Jill to put back on the table.
‘You will get over this, you know - it’ll take time but you will. You’re young
and strong, so your injuries will heal quickly. But what you’ve experienced can have
devastating effects, mentally as well as physically - you’re going to need
counselling, from someone specially trained in rape trauma.’
Donna pulled a face, and shook her head.
‘I bet a girl like you must have lots of admirers.’ Jill seemed to be trying a
Donna didn’t even want to think about that.
‘You have a boyfriend?’
She nodded timidly.
‘Thought so. His name’s Blake, isn’t it?’
‘Hey, that’s a nice name. He’s a bit of a hunk, I noticed.’
‘You think so?’ Donna mumbled, unable to look Jill directly in the eye.
‘Really good looking – shame I’m not ten years younger.’
Donna gave a slight smile, but this small talk did nothing to calm her down,
instead it made her nervous. She felt herself going hot.
‘Been going together long?’
‘Five years,’ she sighed still without looking at the police woman.
‘That’s a long time for someone so young. What - were you childhood
She shrugged her shoulders.
‘That’s sweet. You’ll be glad to know he’s waiting outside with your mum and
She creased up, suddenly afraid again. ‘I don’t want them to
‘I know you don’t, but remember they love you dearly, so they’ll be very
sympathetic and understanding. And can give you all the love and support you need
‘But it was degrading and I feel so dirty.’
‘I know but there’s no need to feel like that. You couldn’t have done any more
than you did, and in the circumstances, I think you were very brave - ’
‘We were going out… to celebrate our engagement. Blake must have thought
I’d stood him up,’ she blurted out, biting down on a fingernail.
‘Oh dear – that’s a shame! Well, he knows you didn’t stand him up now. He’s
been worried sick – I can’t tell you how relieved he is that you’re still alive, and out
‘He’ll go spare if he finds out the truth.’ She turned away to bury her face in
her hands. ‘Oh God, what have I done to deserve this?’ She wept softly.
‘Nothing, love. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Listen, I
don’t like to keep on at you, but I’m going to have to ask you again about what
happened. Come on now - just take your time – I’ve got all night if need be. Let’s
start with what time you finished work tonight, shall we?’ Jill said, a notebook in
her hand ready.
Donna closed her eyes and started to tremble; she didn’t want to do this but it
seemed she had no choice. It felt so demeaning having to reveal all the intimate
details, but Jill was very patient and supportive, so Donna managed to get through
the ordeal. And once she started to open up, she was able to tell Jill everything she
It came tumbling out. All the unthinkable disgusting things that vile man had
done to her. She was distraught at times, but could describe everything in great detail
except for his appearance.
‘Thank you Donna, it takes a lot of guts to speak about this. I’m very proud of
you.’ She smiled at her when it was all over. ‘Forensics are going through your
clothes right now, and we’ve taken samples of what’s under your fingernails and
from your vagina. Hopefully, if they can get his DNA, it’ll be on file. I’ll arrange for
a police artist to come and sit with you in the morning, so we can get an idea of what
he looks like. Is that all right, love?’
‘I...I didn’t get a good look at him. He wore some sort of mask, a balaclava I
think it was; I only saw his piercing eyes. But I… I can’t even tell you what colour
they were, because it was dark, and I was so frightened.’
‘Doesn’t matter – like I said, any of these tiny details might come to you in
time. Remember even without a description, it’s possible we might find evidence
from the samples we’ve taken. It may not be quite as difficult as you think.’
The very thought of having something of his in her body, something that might
grow into ...Oh sweet Jesus, she thought, hoping to God the morning after pill she’d
taken earlier had worked. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about.
‘Right then – maybe it’s time I left you in peace. I think you’ve had more than
enough to cope with for the time being. In the morning I’ll get all this typed up, you
can read through it and sign it if you’re happy. I’ll see you later then love. I expect
you’d like to see your family now. They’ve been waiting for quite a while.’
‘What – yes.’ She twitched nervously.
How could she face them? They’d want her to tell them about it. And what
about Blake? If only she could let him take her in his arms, and make all the pain go
away. But she didn’t think she could. And neither did she want him or anyone else
seeing her smashed up face and body. Yet it seemed she had to.
‘OK. Now, if you need me, any time, night or day, call this number. It’s my
Jill gave her a card with her name and number printed on it. Then just before
leaving, she hugged Donna, which only made her feel like crying again.
Lying there, Donna began to breathe erratically, panicking over having to face
her family. She couldn’t stop herself from shaking. Oh God, would she ever stop
A SHORT TIME LATER, DONNA LOOKED UP TO SEE THE DOOR TO HER ROOM
OPENING. A stout jolly looking black nurse came in first, all smiles, followed by her
parents and her soon-to-be fiancé. She blinked nervously when she saw them, and
her heart began to pound. She could hardly bear to look at them.
Her mum was a tall, thin, wiry woman with long bleached hair and pale
complexion. Her face was heavily made up; eyes clear blue. She held Donna’s dad’s
hand tightly. He was a couple of inches shorter but sturdy, bald, with a black
moustache, and wore jeans and tee shirt. Several heart shaped tattoos covered his
Behind him was Blake, tall and slim, with short black hair, he constantly
displayed a shadow of a beard on his face. Tufts of his body hair peeked out of his
opened necked white shirt. He was slightly olive skinned and had dark brown eyes.
Donna closed her eyes, feeling so embarrassed. Not wanting to speak to them.
She could hear chairs scrapping along the floor as they were brought to the side
of her bed.
The atmosphere was tense with emotion, and she sensed her family staring at
her battered face.
Everyone was quiet, frightened to speak, as tears trickled down her cheeks. She
opened her eyes at last to the sound of her mother’s voice. ‘Oh my poor darling. Just
look what that monster’s done to you!’
Donna cringed, and wished she could hide her face. Instead she wept
‘Don’t cry love.’ Her mum got up from her chair and holding out her arms was
about to hug her.
Donna started to shake, and moved away from her mum. She couldn’t stand
any of this right now.
‘They ought to string him up when they catch him,’ her dad growled.
Her mum sat reluctantly back down in her chair. ‘No one’s safe out on their
own these days. Makes you wonder what the world’s coming to.’
‘I’ll kill the bastard, if I ever get hold of him,’ Blake said angrily.
‘Did you get a good look at him, love?’ her mum asked.
Donna shook her head, her face creased up in pain.
She glimpsed Blake moving off his chair to sit on the bed. He attempted to put
his arm around her, but the very thought of it made her writhe as if a venomous snake
was about to be placed on her shoulder.
‘No, please don’t!’
Blake’s face dropped. Donna didn’t want to talk yet let alone have any physical
contact with him. She wanted him to understand, but wasn’t sure he would.
‘Sorry love,’ was all he could say, backing off to his seat.
‘Donna, don’t get upset, Blake didn’t mean anything.’
‘I don’t want to be touched, mum.’
Finally, she sank back down into her bed, and turned her face away from them.
‘Please don’t be like this,’ her dad said. ‘We only want to help, sweetheart.’
‘Did he take anything from you?’ Blake suddenly asked.
She started to sob again, her tears staining and wetting the pillow.
‘Talk to us Donna. Just tell us what happened.’
Slowly, she turned her face towards her mum. ‘I can’t. I just want to forget
about it, but every time I close my eyes, I keep seeing him hitting me.’ She tightened
her fists, and put them defensively in front of her face.
‘All right, let her be, love – now’s not the time,’ her dad said.
‘But she’s our daughter – just look what that scum’s done to our beautiful little
girl. Her face - ’ She dabbed her own eyes with a tissue.
Blake looked forlorn. No one spoke for a long time, then at last her dad said,
‘Perhaps we ought to go. We’ll come back tomorrow Donna, when you’re feeling a
little better, but ring us any time you like, if you need us.’
She didn’t react to his remarks, but could feel their eyes glued on her.
‘You staying a little longer, Blake?’ Donna’s mum asked, while her dad
beckoned his wife to hurry up.
Blake didn’t respond to this, and remained in his seat. Perhaps he wasn’t sure
what was expected of him.
‘You take care of yourself now,’ her dad said.
She didn’t say goodbye to her parents as they left; couldn’t even look at them
or at Blake either, who just sat there in silence, obviously wondering what he should
After what seemed an eternity, he finally spoke, ‘You don’t mind if I stop a bit,
She shrugged her shoulders.
‘When you didn’t turn up at the flat, I got really scared. I didn’t know what to
think. Thought you’d changed your mind about me. You’re so beautiful, you know
– and so many other guys fancy you.’
Blake and his ridiculous insecurities again. She wasn’t listening. Why couldn’t
he see what she was going through?
When he took hold of her hand, straight away she pulled it away from him. He
‘Want to know what really happened, Blake? He...he didn’t just attack
me...he...’ and bit by bit it came out, about all the unspeakable things the foul man
had done to her and how sickened she was by the vileness of his actions. Blake
listened intently, staring at her with shock, and obvious disbelief. His eyes widened,
and his mouth tightened with anger.
When she’d finished, he looked down at the ground, shaking his head; then she
saw him wringing his hands tightly together. She waited for him to say something -
but he was silent!
‘Maybe now you understand why I didn’t want you to touch me.’
With a glazed look in his eyes and through clenched teeth, he said, ‘You never
ought to have stopped late. That Wallace bloke has got a lot to answer for. And why
didn’t you phone me? I could have picked you up – and then this never would have
‘Because your bloody phone was switched off.’
What...’ he began, looking puzzled, but she didn’t let him finish.
‘What’s the matter? Don’t you believe me?’
‘Of course I do. Look, I’m your boyfriend, for Christ’s sake. I love you and I
want to help – so please don’t give me a hard time over this.’
‘He frightened the shit out of me.’ He could have killed me, she thought. Easy
as snapping a twig.
Blake got up and moved towards her again, but she jumped back like a startled
rabbit, and held out her hands to stop him.
A sad scowl appeared on his face. ‘But what he did has got nothing to do with
‘Maybe not. You still don’t understand, do you, Blake? Sorry, but I can’t bear
you to touch me, right now.’
‘Donna - you’re not thinking straight.’
‘They made me take a pill - so I won’t be pregnant with that maniac’s child?’
His eyes widened again, showing up the creases in his forehead.
‘And look at my face. Not quite your beautiful girl any more, am I? Why did
he have to single me out for God’s sake? What did I ever do to him?’
‘Nothing, I realise that. He probably did it because he knew he couldn’t have
you any other way. But I know one thing, I’ll fucking strangle the bastard, if ever I
catch hold of him.’ He balled up a fist and banged it into his other hand.
‘Well, I don’t know how you’ll ever do that - I don’t even know what he looks
like. I never saw his face. He wore a balaclava helmetso it’s impossible.’
‘No it isn’t, Donna. Something about him will have stuck in your memory, for
sure. Like how tall he was, his build, whether he was black or white. And if he spoke,
you might even guess his age. And by his accent, whether he was local or not. The
police will be onto that and lots of other things…like matching his DNA for
But she wasn’t listening to what he was saying and was instead drawn back into
that dreadful alley again. Why in God’s name did I have to work late?
‘Did you hear what I said? You have to be positive in this.’
She gave him a half-ironic smile.
‘So how long are they keeping you in here?’
‘I don’t know. No one’s said. They’ve taken some X-rays, and done other tests.
They’ll probably come to a decision in the morning.’
‘The flat will be so empty without you. I’ll miss you like crazy.’
She put her hand over her eyes. You’ll miss me, Blake. Is that the only thing
you can say? She needed something else from him, wasn’t sure what – comfort and
silence, perhaps. Total silence. Couldn’t he give her that much?
‘Wish I could stay here with you, Donna.’
She moaned quietly.
Blake sat there for a while longer, not saying much else. Neither did she. An
unfamiliar atmosphere grew between them, an uncertainty, a cloud of confusion; as
if they’d become estranged. Like two people on the edge of breaking up.
He rose, shrugged, made to touch her again, then let his arm fall to his side.
‘I’d better go now – it’s getting late. See you tomorrow - OK.’
If he really loved her, he’d insist on being allowed to stay as long as possible.
But maybe she didn’t want him to linger in this room with her any longer – she didn’t
He backed toward the door. ‘Night, love.’
Her eyes glanced up at him for a second, but she didn’t answer.
She was glad he’d gone, but at the same time, part of her wanted him to stay.
Her mind was in turmoil and she hurt all over. Staring into space trying not to think
of her predicament, she tried to imagine herself being somebody else in another
place, away from this room. She didn’t hear the door open nor the sound of someone
approaching her bed.
‘Donna.’ It was a male voice, her doctor by the sound of it.
Her mouth opened, but no words came out.
‘Would you like something to help you sleep?’ he said.
She just nodded slightly, which he obviously took to mean yes. He gave her a
couple of tablets with a glass of water. She took them, then lay back on her bed.
Slowly she felt herself slipping further down in the bed. Her eyes were heavy; her
last images were of the concerned face of the doctor.
Restless sleep followed. She dreamt of the man who’d raped her, that he’d come
to the flat intent on finishing the job. But Blake had burst in on him. There’d been a
terrible fight, and Blake ended up with a beating worse than her own. And Donna
could do nothing to help him. She heard herself crying out, before waking with a
jolt. For the first few moments she was very disorientated, then came the realisation
of where she was.
The sun shone through the window, making her squint through its brightness.
The agony she was in was almost more than she could stand - how did you live
through this and come out the other side?
Getting out of bed, she could only shuffle towards the door as the pain from her
ribs was intense. She could see the hospital in full swing, nurses and doctors going
about their business, tending the sick. The smell of disinfectant lingered in the
atmosphere, and sensing the anxiety of those who waited fretfully for the outcome
of operations, she began to tremble with dread.
Suddenly came the urge to run away, to get out of this awful place, and she
would have too, if she hadn’t felt so weak and tired. Instead, she had to go back to
rest on top of her bed.
Lying there, she wondered if the swelling on her face had gone down. The night
before it had been such a shock to see her puffed up eyes, one of which she still
couldn’t see out of properly. Touching each of them gently, they felt just as bad. She
must look ugly, and half wanted to remain this way, in order to retain some sort of
anonymity, to become a plain Jane, who never got looked at twice, instead of an
object for men to crave.
But it was Blake’s reaction that worried her the most. He didn’t seem to know
how to deal with the situation. She needed him to be strong, but maybe something
in him had changed too, because of what had happened. What if he didn’t want her
Before the attack, he couldn’t keep his eyes or hands off her. Yet, now she
didn’t know what to think, and dreaded life without him.
A little later, a nurse brought her a light breakfast, but she had difficulty in
eating it due to her stitched lip. Afterwards, a doctor, a kind looking man with a
warm smile, came over to see her.
‘How are you feeling this morning Donna?’
‘All right,’ she lied.
‘We’ve had the results of your blood tests. All negative, thankfully. But you do
have four broken ribs, which as you know we’ve bandaged, so I suggest you take it
easy for a while so the bones get a chance to knit together again. Your face is badly
bruised, but I assure you that should heal within a couple of weeks or so without any
scarring. It looks a lot worse than it really is...honestly – so don’t worry. Oh and by
the way, I’ve written to your GP advising him to arrange for you to see a counsellor
to help you come to terms with your ordeal, so I imagine he’ll contact you, once you
get out of here.’
‘When can I go home?’ she said.
‘Soon. But you’ll need several weeks off with plenty of rest, before you can
even consider going back to work.’
Donna looked up at the doctor anxiously. ‘How will I ever get over this?’
‘That’s a difficult question to answer. It all depends on the individual, and
whilst you’ll never forget what happened, I honestly think you can get through this
in time. No one’s saying it’s going to be easy, but it’s amazing how resilient people
are when they need to be. And hopefully if the police manage to catch this man
quickly, before he does any more damage, it’ll be a huge weight off your mind.’
‘I’ll never relax until they do.’
‘You will, I’m sure with your family’s support. This wasn’t your fault, Donna–
it was just a random attack – a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You’re lucky to be alive, very lucky indeed.’ He smiled warmly at her. ‘Now if
there’s any other way I can help, you only have to ask. And remember there are lots
of specially trained people and organisations out there, should you need them. Most
times, you only have to pick up the phone. You take care now.’
She nodded, but didn’t think anyone could put this right.
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