Hannah looked out the window of her high rise New York apartment over to Liberty Island. The Statue of Liberty was delicately lit as it stood gracefully in place, protecting citizens. The haze of the cool night drifted around the grand lady giving her a hue that only suited her. But her flame shone brightly and could be seen for miles. Hannah just loved how the view gave her a sense of security. Somewhat.
Hannah was fresh out of college and was immediately hired by the Mansciello Group to be the slogan representative for new acquisitions. She would be one of the very first clients would see. Hannah was very eager to put her media degree to use.
However, as Hannah stared at the symbol of freedom overlooking New York Harbor, she knew the one thing the lady and her torch could not protect her from was the same nightmare that continued to haunt her. It came every single night. It has been since that life-changing night when Hannah was sixteen. The nightmare never failed to stop. Otherwise, Hannah felt safe.
No amount of medication ever helped. Pills eased the symptoms, of course, but never fully erased the memory. They just seemed to mask what had happened. If Hannah could take a hot shower all night long, she would, because it was where she felt safe and secure; especially after that dreadful hour. Or for however long it was. To Hannah, it felt like a lifetime. And even in the nightmare that always came back.
Hannah may have been asleep, but she always felt her naked body being pushed down into the mattress by his heavy weight. The same simulated writhing movements of disgust her body had made that night still with no way of stopping it, always caused her to ruffle her sheets. The exact piercing pain of him entering her was always as fresh as the day it happened. Hannah had not been ready then and she was still not ready now. Her body had been invaded without permission, and the invasion kept coming back for the past six years.
Only one thing kept her going. It was the only good thing that came out of that night. It was the one thing that made her go on with her life and make something of herself. Hannah would never change what came from that awful night. Never. Not in a million years.
Jessica's cute tender face peeked out from under her sheets as Hannah looked in on her daughter sleeping peacefully. Hannah smiled as she looked at her daughter. Hannah did not have the same memory when she looked at Jessica. The feelings were so very different. It was because something so beautiful came out of a night of terror.
Jessica opened her eyes and smiled. "Hi mommy. Time to get up alweady?"
"Not quite sweetie. You just went to bed an hour ago," Hannah answered her and walked in to sit on the bed with her daughter.
"Oh, I sweep now then, Mommy," Jessica said and turned her little body onto its side.
Hannah pulled the covers over her daughter and leaned down to kiss her again. She got up and walked to the door of Jessica's room. Before she stepped out, Hannah looked again at her daughter and wished the innocence would last forever.
Hannah knew that one day she would have to tell Jessica about how she came to be. She knew that Jessica would have questions. Jessica had already asked about her father and Hannah told her the half truth. She told Jessica her father had died. Well, it was the whole truth; she just did not tell Jessica she was the one that caused his death. Jessica was too young to hear that and why it happened.
Hannah never had a nightmare of that one night. She knew it was because she was ready. She knew that he was going to come back. Hannah was ready for that night as well. She had already found out she was pregnant with Jessica and he was not going to harm Jessica growing inside her in any way. And he was never going to know about Jessica either. Hannah saw to that when she drew the gun she had hidden under her pillow and pulled the trigger. It was the only way she could protect herself, since no one believed her. They believed Hannah when she was exonerated on self-defense and another of his victims came forward; even though it had been the second time around.
Hannah made sure there would never be a third time and nine months later, Jessica entered the world. What should have been a reminder of terror, only turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.
Hannah finally laid down and only wished she would dream of her daughter, but she knew that would not happen. She knew she would drift off to sleep and during the night, the nightmare that always haunted her would appear. She had become accustomed to it. Hannah just waited until she would wake up in a cold sweat like she always did. It was inevitable.
Hannah did. She jerked up into the darkness of her room all covered in sweat. It always happened after the incident replayed in her nightmare and then was over. Once she caught her breath, Hannah was okay. She always had a glass of water on her bedside table to drown the horror. The only thing she never would drown with it was Jessica.
When Hannah had calmed herself down, her head hit the pillow again. She closed her eyes and fell asleep. Now that the nightmare had come, it would stay away until the following night. That is the way it always happened. Once she was back asleep, she would not wake until the sun was up.
The sun peeked through the cracks of the blinded window of Hannah's room. She folded the sheet back and rolled her legs off the side of her bed. When Hannah had her legs under her, she walked to her daughter's room. The door was already open and Jessica was not in her bed.
Hannah turned around and walked to the living room. She smiled as she saw Jessica standing at the window staring out. Like mother, like daughter, Jessica was looking at the Liberty Lady as Hannah had done the night before.
Hannah walked up to her daughter and patted her on the back. Jessica put her little arms around her mother and said, "Pwetty, mommy, isn't it?"
Hannah pulled her daughter closer to her and said, "It sure is sweetie. It sure is."
As Hannah held on to her daughter, she knew that she made the right decision to come to New York. She knew that she would never get rid of the nightmare even being in "The Big Apple" though. That did not matter to her. What did matter was knowing the "grand lady of freedom" in the distance would always protect not only her, but Jessica. And that was a feeling Hannah would always have.