Never Met a Stranger

-For My Anna

Some days I can still feel his fist’s impact against the back of my head. The ringing of my ears and imprint it left in my brain. In that moment, I didn’t cower or feel afraid. I was angry. I stood up and said, “Touch me again and you won’t live to see tomorrow.”

That was the first and last time he hit me. I can’t imagine how it feels to be abused and then murdered. That memory was my first thought when I learned that my Anna was gone.

Anna and I met on my temporary assignment at an insurance company. I was hired as a temp to take her place in reception while she trained as an account representative for health insurance.

We sat together the first week of the assignment as she showed me the lay of the land. Her smile illuminated my heart. She knew the name of every vendor or repeat client that came through the door. She greeted them as if they were old friends. It was like she’d never met a stranger in her whole life. It made my training days easy. Her joy was contagious. I’d never met anyone like her.

In the few weeks I was blessed to work with her, I learned about her son. She was so proud of her son. I can’t remember what he was studying, but he was in an apprenticeship and she was helping him out financially because he had a young child.  Her life seemed so settled and lovely when I thought of my own.

Eventually, we talked about her boyfriend, who was just paroled.  I would ask her to join me for a drink or lunch.  She’d say she couldn’t because her boyfriend was coming. There was something about the way her eyes stopped sparkling that told me I wouldn’t like him. She was a beautiful woman but her deadened eyes were heartbreaking.

Slowly, I started to ask questions.  She told me how her boyfriend wouldn’t let her hang out with people. The only time she went out was when she was with him. I looked at her and said, “Really, me? I’ll meet him and assure him you’re safe with me.” She just shook her head.

He came into the office once that I can remember. He thought he was a smooth talker, but I watched my friend disappear.  Trying not to be noticed or speak out of turn.  I looked at him with my patented smile, but you don’t fool me look.  I don’t think he was smart enough to know I wasn’t charmed.  If he knew what I’d do next, he probably have tried to get rid of me too.

The very next day, I told her she should come home with me.  We’d get her stuff another time, but she couldn’t go home anymore. She looked at me and said, “He’ll kill you. I can’t do that to you and your husband.”  I told her he wouldn’t.  He was a coward.  I could protect her.  She could come home with me and we’d figure it out later.  But she couldn’t do it.  She loved me too much and the fear was much greater than love.

I learned of her death when they asked me to be a temp again while they looked for a replacement.  Walking in that first day, my heart sank not seeing her face greeting me in reception. Not hearing her melodious hello.  The co-worker who greeted me, went into the coat closet and pulled out a hanger with my infinity scarf wrapped around it.  “Anna saves this for you.” She said.

I’ll never get rid of that scarf.  I will always wish she came home with me. I miss her more than she’ll will ever know.

If you are experiencing abuse, please don’t hesitate to get help.  There is someone just like me who loves you and needs your smile in their life.

Emotional Abuse Hotline  Text: 741741

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1−800−799−7233 

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