“What is wrong with you?” our coach, Lyss Boucher, hollered as she skated toward us. Jordan had almost dropped me and was shaking out his wrist. “Number one rule in pairs; you do not drop your partner.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Jordan grumbled, turning away and pulling his arm close to his body.
“What are you hiding from me?” Coach pulled Jordan’s shoulder around and grabbed his wrist. Jordan cringed and sucked in a breath. Her accusation was pointed. “What did you do?”
Jordan didn’t answer her but his response to her touching his wrist prompted Lyss to be a little more careful.
“Your knuckles are scratched and bruised. Did you get in a fight?”
“I just fell, that’s all,” Jordan lied.
“Don’t you be dishonest with me, young man,” Lyss scolded him. “Did you punch a wall or a person? You better have a darn good excuse.”
“He was defending me,” I interjected. “This is my fault, not his.”
“Violence is never an option,” Coach said. “Neither is lying, and neither is dropping your partner. Get off the ice, get outa your skates, and get over to the trainer. I want that wrist looked at and so help me if you can’t perform by tomorrow night, I am gonna be madder than a bull in a lasso, you hear me?”
“Yes, Coach,” Jordan mumbled, gliding toward the entryway to the arena.
“Jordan, I am so sorry.” I whimpered, following him off the ice. He didn’t answer me, and I felt terrible. How could this week have gone so terribly wrong?
We sat together in silence, unlacing our skates. I wasn’t sure what to say. Everything would change when he admitted to the trainer what had happened to his wrist. We would be forced to report Thomas’ attack and they would both likely be disqualified. I felt like the worst person in the world for letting things get this far.
I could tell Jordan was tired of hearing me apologize so I stopped talking altogether.
A quick x-ray confirmed there was no break in Jordan’s wrist but a serious sprain. We received the worst instructions possible twenty-four hours prior to the biggest performance of our skating career: Keep the wrist tightly wrapped and don’t lift anything at all for a week or two.
“A week?” Jordan’s voice squeaked. “But our free skate is tomorrow. Isn’t there something you can do? Wrap it nice and tight, shoot it full of steroids, and make it so we can skate tomorrow?”
“I’m sorry, son, it’s just too dangerous,” the doctor said. “You could injure your wrist more permanently or drop your partner. Her life is even more valuable than your wrist.”
“I know.” Jordan choked back tears and grabbed my hand with his good arm. “Of course, you’re right. I would never do anything to jeopardize Lara’s safety.”
“This is all my fault,” I cried, gripping Jordan’s hand tighter.
“It’s not your fault,” Jordan said, also through tears. “I shouldn’t have hit him.”
“Who did you hit?” The doctor raised his eyebrows at Jordan.
Crap, now someone outside our immediate circle knew Jordan had gotten in a fight. Would the doctor report his violent behavior? Did it matter? We wouldn’t be able to skate tomorrow anyway. What was the use in hiding things? I glanced up at Jordan and he took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.
“I hit Thomas Lamb because he was trying to sexually assault Lara.” Well, he’d done it. No going back.
“The speed skater?”
The doctor pulled his eyes from Jordan and met my gaze. “Is that true? Was Mr. Lamb doing something inappropriate?”
“Yes,” I squeaked out, sobs coming harder now.
“I’m under legal obligation to report this,” the doctor said, reaching for a tissue and handing it to me. “Were there any other witnesses besides the two of you?”
“Chelley Houston,” Jordan said. “She and Lara are roommates and we got to Lara just in time.”
“Just in time?” I raised my voice. “Thomas did so many things that you don’t know about, and said so many things, and threatened me, and pinned me to my bed. I couldn’t fight him off. I thought he was going to—” I couldn’t say the word so I covered my face with my hands and sobbed uncontrollably.
Jordan wrapped his arms around me and spoke softly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to discount all the things he did before I got there. I’m just glad he didn’t get any further.”
“Let’s get you into a more private room,” the doctor said quietly. “And I’ll go find someone from security to get an officer down here.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Jordan said. He helped me to my feet while I tried to control my sobs.
They led me from the large open area where the trainer had been looking at Jordan’s wrist and I realized how many people had been witness to my outburst. Great. Rumors travel fast. This news would spread quicker than it could be contained. There was nothing more I could do except tell the truth.
I ducked my head into Jordan’s shoulder, dreading the next few hours.
Author’s Note: If you, or someone you know, have experienced any kind of unwanted advance rather from a friend, relative, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, stranger, or anyone else, please reach out for help. Contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (rain.org) or call 800-656-HOPE (4673).
(As always, feedback is greatly appreciated. -Julie)
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