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Even though Abby's face was becoming smudged with grease, Jake tried not to notice that her eyes were bright and sparkling, and that her cheeks were flushed with color; he tried to ignore her lilting laughter as she related some silly joke a fisherman had shared with her that very morning. As he tried not to notice, he silently wondered at the young woman with the seemingly ever buoyant spirit.

That evening, as Abby stood on the shoreline fly fishing, she heard the quiet footsteps of Jake, as he came to watch. In the past, fishing had been Abby's way of getting away from other people. But that had changed ever since Jake had come to live in the little yellow house. Now, to be alone, was to be alone with Jake somewhere in the near vicinity.

As Abby looked over her shoulder to direct her backcast, she noticed Jake sitting on the beach behind her, his form slightly shaking.

"Jake, are you all right?" she asked.

"Leave me alone," came his gruff reply.

"Excuse me," smiled Abby, "but I was here first."

When she heard no response, Abby set down her fly rod, and went over to the troubled man.

"Are you all right?" she repeated, sitting down beside him, but not close enough to make him uneasy.

"I wish I were normal," he sighed, trying hard to control his nervous tremors.

"Normal is highly overrated," chuckled Abby, taking off her jacket and placing it around his shoulders. "What's the matter? Having another flashback?"

"Not exactly," replied Jake, hanging on to a corner of her jacket. "I was just remembering something that happened when I was little."

Abby's ears perked up. It was rare for Jake to speak of his past. But when he continued no further, she exclaimed,

"Oh! You're not going to stop there, are you?"

"Are you really interested?" he asked in surprise.

"Moderately so," smiled Abby. "If you're willing to talk about it, I'm willing to listen. What were you just remembering?"

"I don't know how old I was," began Jake, "but I must have been very young, for I remember how large the slide in our backyard seemed to me at the time. The abuse had already started by then, and I remember one night, waking up crying because Dad had shoved something cold into my mouth. His face was inches from mine." Here, Jake shuddered and shifted uncomfortably. "It was my grandpa's German Lugar from World War II. Dad told me that if I didn't do exactly as he said, he would blow the back of my head off, because I was being 'disobedient' by fighting him in bed. I remember not believing Dad," mused Jake. "One night, when he came to me, I once again refused to obey. Without hesitation, he shoved the gun barrel into my mouth and pulled the trigger. When it didn't go off, I was very grateful to him."

"'Grateful'?" repeated Abby, incredulously. "Why should you be grateful to him?"

"Dad could have killed me, and he didn't," explained Jake.

"Did he threaten you often?" asked Abby.

"Often enough to keep me silent," replied Jake. "I've never told anyone this before, but I would always wet the bed when he raped me."

Abby was quiet. So that was why Jake frequently wet his pants when in a flashback. Abby was soon pulled from her thoughtful reverie, when she noticed that Jake's shoulders were trembling more violently and that his breathing was becoming heavier as the memory began to flood his body.

"No-- not again," Jake whimpered, his hands grasping the earth beside him.

"Try to relax," urged Abby, as she saw his body stiffen.

In an effort to relax, Jake lay back on the sand and looked up at the ever darkening sky above him. Mercifully, this flashback wasn't very strong. Soon, he could feel the memory depart, and was once again breathing freely.
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