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"What about you?" asked Abby. "If I remember correctly, your vote was 'no.'"

"It still is," replied Jake. "Just hear me out, Abby. If you still want to get married afterward, then I'll do it. But, I've got to try to warn you, first. I've never told anyone everything that's happened to me, simply because even I can't remember it all. Sometimes, bits and pieces come back to me, and sometimes, it's whole events. If I asked you to wait right here for me, would you do it?" he asked.

"I'll wait," said Abby.

Jake raced back into the Johanneses' house, and reappeared several minutes later with a blue folder in his hand.

"Dr. Jacoby didn't think I should do this," said Jake, "but I'd rather you found out now, instead of later."

"What is it?" she asked, accepting the folder from him.

"Don't open it right now," he pleaded, his hands shaking with trepidation.

"Jake," said Abby, "whatever is in here, I don't need to know."

"Yes, you do," said Jake. "It's my file. It's not complete, but my case history is there. I have only one thing to ask of you, and it's a small thing."

"What?" asked Abby.

"When you're done reading it," requested Jake, "if you hate me, please don't tell me!"

Then, Jake quickly walked back to his rented yellow house and wept. He had just given Abby the ammunition to kill their friendship. Dr. Jacoby had strongly warned against such an action, saying that it was too soon, and that Jake wasn't prepared for the fallout, afterward. When Jake insisted, they gathered in front of the living room window to watch Abby's reaction when he handed her the folder.

Abby slowly went up the walk to her parents' house, and found everyone staring at her.

"Have you read it, yet?" asked Dr. Jacoby, for the view from the living room window had been partly obstructed by his minivan parked in front of the house.

"No," said Abby, going to her room.

"If you don't mind," said the psychiatrist, "I'd like to stay around. I might be of some help, later this evening."

"Yes, yes, of course," said John, his face sober. "You all might as well stay for dinner-- that is, if you want to."

"I would like to see what happens to them," said Dick. "That boy's like my own son."

"I hate to be the first one to leave," smiled the sheriff, "but my wife will have half the police department out looking for me, if I'm not back in time for supper! When the kids want to get married, just have the justice of the peace call me at the office, or at home, and I'll vouch for them."

Inside the privacy of her room, Abby stared at the blue folder, trying to find the courage to open the cover.

"Please, God," she prayed, "don't let this change anything!"

With trembling fingers, Abby opened the folder. Inside, were things that Abby would never repeat to anyone else. Things so horrible, she felt as though they had been the products of a nightmarish imagination, and not the factual history of a very unfortunate man. Some things she could not bear to read, while others she sped through as quickly as possible, trying not to dwell on the pain that it must have caused on such a sensitive boy as Jake. Then there were the pictures. She learned that the slashes on his wrists were made by his fourth and last suicide attempt-- not his first. Abby thought she had gotten through the worst of it, when she saw a photo of Jake's back. Abby burst into tears and buried her face in the pillow to smother the heartrending cries. Izumi, however, had been waiting outside the door, and heard the sobs. She quickly opened the door, and embraced her daughter.

"How could they do that to him!" sobbed Abby, angrily. "Mom, there are bite scars on his back!"

Izumi held on tightly to her daughter.

"Abby," said Izumi, "you're a better woman than I am. Not many mothers can say that of their daughters. I admire and thank God for you. Jake is a blessed man to have you for a friend."

Abby wept into her mother's arms, while Dr. Jacoby hovered outside the door. When the tears came less frequent, Abby dried her face. Izumi knew that whatever had been in those files had to have been traumatic, for Abby rarely ever cried.
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