Today’s post is a bit of a departure from my usual style, but I hope it helps you visualize my perspective on being a crime victim. This story is long overdue. Yet again, I’m ashamed to say that I let insecurities about my writing ability overpower the desire to share my testimony and give God the glory. So let me finally be clear: If it wasn’t for the life-sustaining power of Jesus Christ, I would not be here. In fact, my entire family would be dead.
She was staring down the barrel of a gun. The crisp February evening air had suddenly turned bitter cold.
“Get inside!” yelled one of the gunmen. Trailed at a distance, she walked cautiously up the driveway, treading through the snow that she was yet to shovel.
I heard as my mother entered the house. I jumped out of bed, suddenly awake after a short nap.
They were back. I couldn’t see them, but I knew. It was the tone of her voice. Different – warning me that something was wrong.
“We don’t have anything” she cried, in a feeble attempt to ward them off. I rushed to the phone and dialed 9-1-1. Without listening for a response, I hid it in a corner on the floor, the receiver off the hook. It was time to put years of Hollywood moving-watching to good use. I was going to hide in the one place I prayed the robbers wouldn’t look – the darkened bathroom.
I tread lightly with lightning speed. The door to the second-storey bathroom closed gently behind me and the lock clicked into place. I was surrounded by black. Darkness overshadowed me, magnified by fear and the erratic beating of my heart.
A door slammed nearby, but that wasn’t enough to keep them out. I could practically see the hinges as they were forcefully ripped from the far-off door frame. I heard another family member’s trembling voice. They had my father.
My silent words were filled with a litany of emotions. Please don’t let them find me. It was a prayer for preservation that only God could hear. Only He could answer.
“Where’s your daughter?” a voice demanded.
“She’s at church,” came my father’s reply. God bless him. And he probably wasn’t even lying. That’s usually where you could find me.
Footsteps receded down the hallway and thudded down carpeted stairs, away from where I was hidden. It was only a matter of time, I guessed, before they located my brother in the basement.
A sea of emotions tossed within me like a tempest. Unbidden tears trickled down my face as I imagined the worst. What a coward I was, hiding when my family needed my help! Yet, I was helpless to save them. Not, I reasoned later, because hiding was the safe thing to do. Rather, it was the only thing I could do. Fear had gripped and immobilized me. My limbs were frozen in place, my ears attuned like a wild animal.
Seconds were hours. Muffled voices were getting clearer.
“Where’s your sister?”
“I don’t know. I thought she was here,” my brother replied.
Should I kill him now or later, thought? Not a very funny joke considering the circumstances. At any rate, the robbers were appeased by his response. They didn’t ask for me again.
I heard more shuffling then silence.
As I held my breath, there was a sudden, more welcoming sound. Sirens. Hope welled within me. Finally, these hoodlums would be caught red-handed. No more wondering who they were or when they would turn up next. No more looking over my shoulder. It was all about to come to an end. Or so I thought.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. My door. A statue, I waited silently.
“Andrea?” It was my brother. I ignored him. I couldn’t respond even if I wanted to.
His two words brought with them a flurry of feeling. My heart was mixed with relief and dread. They were gone. But the sirens I had heard hadn’t been for me.
Cautiously, I turned the knob and peaked outside. There stood my brother, alone. I looked into his eyes and saw the weariness that I felt.
Seemingly safe from harm at the moment, I snapped into action. Leaving my brother’s side, I rushed to the phone. Surely, the police had heard everything.
“Hello, hello?” I begged.
A brusque woman came to the line. After a brief exchange, she admonished me.
“You should have stayed on the phone.”
I’ll remember that the next time I’m running for my life, I thought disgustedly.
Careful to keep the impatience out of my voice, I told her what I had heard and provided my address. But they didn’t need it. Strange authoritative voices coming from downstairs signaled the police’s arrival.
Descending the stairway, I breathed a sigh of relief. They were all there. My family. And save for the goose egg that was forming on my brother’s left temple, they were visibly shaken yet physically unharmed. In that moment, nothing else mattered. As I flew to their side, relief and gratitude drowned out the din.