The New York City streets were unusually quiet this time of morning. The sunlight peeked through the one bedroom apartment. The blare of an alarm interrupted the stillness as Chris Matthews turned in bed to face his wife. He admired her beauty then softly kissed her awake.
“Good Morning?” Sarah said with a sleepy smile. “Morning. How did you sleep?” Chris wiped a strand of hair from her face. “I haven’t slept that good in ages.” “Well, you deserve it. Do you have some work to finish up today?”
Sarah sat up and dangled her feet off the side of the bed, “Yes I do, but I want to not work too late.” “Get back in bed. I have something for you.” Chris said putting on his t-shirt and jeans which were on the floor beside the bed.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” Sarah laughed, as she walked into the master bathroom and shut the door behind her. “I have to pick up your surprise from down the street.” Chris grabbed his keys and wallet from the nightstand and walked into the living room. “Honey?”
Sarah pulled her hair into a messy bun and leaned against the entryway to the living room, “Yeah?” “Did you want a cup of tea? I’m about to make some for myself.” “Sure, herbal tea please.” “Coming right up.”
Sarah sat on the living room couch and turned on the television. Changing the channel to a local news station, her mind went to the novel she was working on. She was an independent author. She loved the freedom, but there were challenges too.
She was in the middle of the fourth book in a series and couldn’t figure out what to write next. Her phone buzzed on the coffee table in front of her. It was an email from one of her beta readers who gave their feedback on a recent chapter she sent them. As Sarah went to respond, her husband walked into the living room with her tea.
“Thanks,” Sarah said with a smile. “I’m going to head out,” Chris said as he lifted his jacket from the coat hanger near the front door and slipped it onto his shoulders. “What about your tea?” Sarah stood and handed him his hat from the coffee table.
“Thanks, I’ll drink it when I come back. At most I’ll be back in 15 minutes.” “Okay. I love you.” “I love you too.” Chris kissed Sarah on the lips and left the apartment.
Sarah went back to their bedroom and put on her white fluffy robe as the house felt chilly without Chris around. Sarah started to make the bed as she heard the front door open. Letting go of the sheet, she walked into the living room “You got back quick. Is everythi- Who…who are you?”
Sarah's eyes widened as she faced the barrel of a gun. A man in a black jacket, jeans and a ski mask smirked at her and said: “I’m your worse nightmare.” Sarah opened her mouth to scream, but only a sob was heard. Her vision blurred as the intruder hit her with the gun. She fell into the coffee table and her teacup shattered as it hit the living room floor.
Sarah felt a pressure in her head as she slowly opened her eyes. The blinding white light wasn’t helping, so she closed her eyes hoping the pain would lessen, but that didn’t work. She could hear shouting in the hallway, but she couldn’t figure out who it was, or what they were saying.
The voice sounded muffled. Sarah opened her eyes once again and turned her head to face the partially opened door.
Now that she thought of it, she couldn’t figure out where she was. She glanced down and ran her hand over the white blanket which covered her. Lifting the blanket off she only wore a paper-thin hospital gown. Bruises covered her arms and legs as she tried to piece together why she was in a hospital.
Sarah tucked herself back into the blanket then looked around the room. A bag of medicine hung from a metal stand on the right side of her bed. Towards the end of the room, there was a television mounted to the wall, on a small table where a bouquet of flowers that brought color to the white painted walls.
Sarah went to sit up in bed, but her body collapsed and she had to lay back down. Pain shot up from her back, through her neck and to the rest of her body. She pressed the nurse call button as tears sprung to her eyes. She wanted the nightmare to end because she hoped this wasn’t her reality.
A nurse walked into Sarah’s room a few minutes later, shutting the door behind her. “Hi, Mrs. Matthews. You’re awake.” “My head and back are killing me,” Sarah said in a raspy voice. “Let me get another bag for your IV. While I do that would you like a cup of water?”
“Yes. Thank you.” Sarah grabbed the plastic cup filled with lukewarm water from the nurse. Taking a few sips she felt a burning sensation in her throat. As the nurse changed Sarah’s IV bag she said: “Some detectives are here to see you.”
Sarah tried to sit up in bed, but once again to no avail. The nurse helped Sarah lay back down then stood at the foot of the bed, “I can lift the back of the bed for you if that would help.” “Sure,” Sarah said gripping onto the bed’s sheets as the nurse lifted the bed using an electronic remote. “Is that better?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” “The detectives will be with you in a few minutes. I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Renee.”
“Hi, I’m Sarah.” Renee smiled as she handed Sarah another blanket, “Sometimes these rooms can get chilly. I’ll let the detectives know you’re awake. Don’t hesitate to press the call button if you need anything.” “Thanks,” Sarah said as she laid the blanket over herself.
The shouting continued when Renee opened the door and left the room. Looking out the door Sarah caught a glimpse of her husband Chris, yelling at someone who just stood there and didn’t respond back. Two detectives walked into the room and Sarah caught the tail end of their conversation in the hallway, “But she’s my wife.”
Sarah furrowed her eyebrows and looked at the detectives, “Elliot? What are you doing here?” “We have a case.” “Yeah, I figured that, but that doesn’t answer my question. Also, how did you know I was even here?” “Chris called.” “He did?”
“Do you know what happened?” “No…no I don’t.” Sarah swallowed and stared at the white wall at the end of the room. Elliot walked over to Sarah’s bed and looked her in the eye, “You’re one of my closest friends and a wonderful sister to me. I wouldn’t tell you this if it wasn’t true.” Elliot took a deep breath, “You were raped.”
“What?” “I’m so sorry.” Elliot took a step back to allow Sarah to process. “Did you catch the guy?” “No, we’re working on it.” “Then why are you here!?” “We have other detectives looking for him. Detective Olivia Benson and I just want to get your statement.”
“I don’t remember anything.” “That’s okay.” Olivia said walking over to Sarah, “What's the last thing you remember?” “Well, I woke up around five in the morning. My husband Chris made me some tea then he left. He was picking up a surprise for me.”
“Do you know what day this was?” “This morning?” “It’s actually been a week. You’ve been in and out of consciousness.” “Really?” Sarah closed her eyes for a moment as tears ran down her cheeks. “A week of my life has gone by and I can’t remember anything.”
“Do you remember what happened after your husband left?” “I…I get cold easily and I’m always borrowing Chris’s jacket. So, I went into our bedroom and put on my robe. Then I decided to make the bed, just something to do to pass the time. I don’t know how much time past, but I heard the front door open...
I walked into the living room to see what Chris wanted. Only it wasn’t him. A strange man was in my apartment and he…”
Sarah started to cry, but after a few moments she composed herself enough to speak, “I’m sorry.” Olivia handed Sarah a box of tissues, “It’s okay take your time.”
Taking a deep and shaky breath Sarah continued, “He pointed a gun to my face. I’ve never been, so terrified in my life. I…I tried to scream, yell for help, just say something. But I could only cry. Then he hit me with the gun, that’s all I remember. I’m so stupid.”
Elliot stood behind Olivia “You’re not stupid. It’s not your fault.” “Isn’t it!?” Sarah said shaking her head in disgust with herself. “You’ve been a detective for how many years? I should know better. I know how to protect myself.”
“You did nothing wrong, Sarah.” “I couldn’t even protect my baby.” “Baby?” Elliot said looking at Sarah and then Olivia. Sarah placed her hand on her stomach, “I just found out the other day. I took three pregnancy tests and they were all positive. I was going to tell Chris the day of the attack.”
“Congratulations,” Olivia said squeezing Sarah’s hand. “Thanks. Is everything okay with my baby? Renee, I believe her name was, didn’t tell me anything.” Sarah said breathing heavier than before, “We’ve been trying to have a baby for so long.”
Olivia walked toward the door, turned to Sarah and said, “I’ll get the nurse to make sure everything is okay.” Olivia softly smiled to Sarah and left the room.
“Elliot?” “Yes?” “Can you turn on the TV?” “Are you sure you don’t want to talk more?” “Yeah. I just don’t want to be alone.” “I won’t leave you,” Elliot said as he turned on the television.
A local news station popped on the screen, “Police are still looking for Frank Eyler. The man who is believed to have attacked and sexually assaulted five women in the past two weeks. If you a have seen him please call-” “I’ve seen him before,” Sarah said running her shaky hand through her hair.
“What?” Elliot turned his body to face Sarah. “Yeah. I went to my favorite coffee shop, Hygge Cafe a couple of weeks ago. It’s across the street from my apartment building. As I was leaving he just kept staring at me. I thought it was odd, but I just brushed it off.”
Elliot took out his phone and walked towards the door, “let me call the precinct and tell them what’s going on.” Renee walked into the room just as Elliot was leaving. She wore a mournful expression and said: “I’m so sorry.”
“What’s wrong?” Sarah said placing her hands on her stomach, hoping maybe the news she was going to hear wouldn’t be what she thought. “You were carrying twins and one of them passed away.”
“I was having twins?” Sarah said closing her eyes briefly. “Yes.” “Can you get my husband?” “Sure.” Renee said walking out of the room and tapped Elliot on the shoulder, “Detective are you done?”
“Yes.” Elliot said covering his phone as he stood in Sarah’s room, “I’ll stop by tomorrow to talk to you more.” Sarah just nodded her head as Elliot left the room. Chris ran over to her. He had bags under his eyes and they were red and puffy. “Did they tell you?” Sarah said holding onto Chris, never wanting to let go.
“They did.” “What are we going to do? Why did this happen?” Sarah cried into Chris’s chest. Probably staining his shirt with her tears, but she didn’t care. He was finally there and that's all that mattered. She couldn’t think about what was going to happen tomorrow or the weeks ahead. She could only focus on the present moment.
To Be Continued