It was three weeks and Louise hadn't returned to work. I was missing her; she is a beauty and always has a smile on her face. She and her sister were one of the reasons that I came to work each day. I was older, closer in age to her father, actually and she used my experience as a knowledgebase for her day to day activities. We had daily discussions about American life as it applied to school age kids and young adults. We discussed social events that kids in their teens experienced. Things like dating, selecting a boyfriend, relationships with parents, relatives and other students. How different races entered into the social balance of the schools and community in general. She and Natalie, along with her family, were emigrated from a Thailand refugee camp. Although raised in the United States the girls were raised to be very traditional, associating mainly with their families and other Hmong countrymen. As they grew through the U.S. school system, they learned very little of the American customs that we as Americans take for granted.
I asked Natalie about Louise and she was noncommittal, and offered little conversation about Louise. I knew to back off and they would get around to me in due time. I knew that she had been through a lot with her abduction and rape. She would be concerned about her plight being spread around the factory. The Hmong have no lives and are free to gossip about anything of interest. And abduction and rape are tantalizing topics of discussion among them. I've even heard of grandparents ratting out their grandchildren when there was some good gossip to be had. I think it was this fact that attracted the sisters to me. I wasn't in their social network and would never divulge any personal information about the young women to anyone. And they told me plenty of stuff that would not bear repeating.
All I could do was to be there for them and make sure that they knew it. I didn't have too long to wait. It was three weeks after the incident that I was going in to work when Louise stopped me in the parking lot. She was alone and came up to me and threw her arms around my neck in a tight embrace. I pulled her to me, firmly hugging her to my body for a moment and then disengaging myself from her to avoid anyone stumbling across us so closely together, and feeding the gossip mill.
I looked at her and could plainly see that she had lost a lot of weight since the last time that I saw her, at her house. This was devastating since she only weighed ninety pounds before her incident. The smile was not on her face as I was accustomed to seeing, and she had tears welling up in her eyes. Without a word, I led her into my car; we left the parking lot and drove to a restaurant about a mile away. We entered and found a table in the closed section of the dining room and took up the seat. It was a booth and we were obscured from the others that were eating breakfast on the other side of the restaurant.
.... There is more of this story ...