The judge looked at the innocent, pretty young girl.

“Are you sure?” he asked her, scarcely able to hide his distress.

“Yes sir”, she replied, “I do not want to press charges”.

The judge was perplexed. He said, “This man, this 58 year old father of 4, who kidnapped you, raped you and left you with scars. You don’t want to press charges?”

“Yes sir.”

The judge looked pained but continued, “But he admitted to doing all this.”

“Yes sir, I am sure.”

The judge looked at the man on the stand.

He was silent. Tears were streaming down his face. Really, really, really, streaming. This man, who had violated this girl, was broken. His shoulders were bobbing. He made no attempt to hide his tears.

The judge was completely lost. He too was holding back tears – of rage.

He said simply to the girl, “Well then, as you please.”

The man, who was guilty, was set free.

He cried, and cried, and cried, and cried and cried.

The room had no pity on him.

The trial was over. The man was set free.

As the man left the courtroom alone (for his family had abandoned him), he crossed paths with the young girl.

He looked at her completely broken and in tears. He didn’t know what to say. To thank her would not be enough. It would rather be hypocrisy. She had given him another chance – a chance he did not deserve. He didn’t know what to say to her.

In between sobs, he simply asked, “Why did you do this? What’s your name?”

She replied.

“My name is Grace”.

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I was crying quietly.

“Wow, you must really have loved her”, she said.

I continued to cry a little bit more violently. My shoulders were bobbing up and down.

She hesitated and wondered how she could console me.

My crying turned to bawling.

She looked uncomfortable.

I stopped crying.

I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable.

“I don’t like you”, he said plainly to her.

“But I like you”, she replied, even more plainly.

He looked at her a bit confused. He expected his statement would have elicited a different response. He scrunched his forehead as he racked his brain. Not much happened.

“Why?” he asked.

“You’re handsome”, she said.

He was even more tortured and tormented.

“Uhhh”, he muttered constipatedly as he started to sweat.

“Danny!!! Time to go home!” he heard his mom yell.

Whew.

Saved.

“I can’t believe it. Why us? Why us?! Why? Why?!” she wailed as fiery tears of desperation poured out of her quivering, bloodshot eyes.

Her wail was loud, shrill and painful. It was primeval. I felt that the acid from her tears would kill her.

The desperation in her voice was physical. It created a wall, layer by layer. I felt I had to make a foothold before I lost her completely. But I didn’t know what to do. I was lost. She was desperate, hysterical and manic, all rolled into one.

I prayed.

It was the least I could do.

As it turned out, it was the most I could do.