Where were you on June 5, 2002?
Myself, I was driving my kids to Crystal Lake, Illinois. “Look around at your new home town,” I told them.
Elizabeth Smart was sleeping in her Salt Lake City bedroom when a man with a knife woke her up and demanded that she get out of bed and come with him.
“Not a sound!” he told me. “I’ll kill you and your entire family!” My heart pounded in my chest. I felt the itch of his beard against my neck.
In My Story by Elizabeth Smart, the public learns what it was like for the 14-year-old girl.
At least he had the decency to tell her to grab her shoes, because Elizabeth was shortly to become a hiker, and on the kind of hike I avoid.
He pointed up the mountain. It was steep. So rough. Looking at it, I realized we’d have to crawl in place.
Once they reached his camp deep in the mountains, once he raped her (and I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets here), she curled up into a ball for a nap, which is just the kind of thing I would do after a very bad day.
Not that this was a refreshing nap.
I slept lightly for an hour or so, never really slipping away, always aware in the back of my mind where I was and the situation I was in. There was no rest in my brief sleep, no comfort, no solace. It was a weary sleep. Hard ground. Dirty blankets, sheets, and pillows. The horrible linen robe bunched around my body. I was in pain. I was bleeding. But it was infinitely better than being awake.
By then, her parents had awakened to the awful new reality of Elizabeth’s disappearance. And not long after that, we all heard the heart-dropping news.
It was one long, bad camping trip, living with dirt, sweat, fatigue and hunger; with bad mates, one of them a “prophet” who blathered on forever about “signs” and took his women to town dressed in robes and veils.
Elizabeth grew into a curious mix of innocence and cynicism, pulling herself through each awful day with hope on one hand and hopelessness on the other. I kept having to remind myself, She doesn’t know how this ends. Not yet. Besides the bodily torment of living as a dirty, confined and abused animal, there was the mental torment.
I was daydreaming; about my family, my friends, wondering if I would ever be able to go back to school. . . . Was I going to spend the rest of my life on the top of this mountain, miles from anyone and anything, surrounded by boulders and scrub oaks?
What ratcheted the tension highest for me were the moments when Elizabeth came within inches of being rescued and . . . Well, you’ll have to read that for yourself.
Photo credit: barnimages.com via Visualhunt / CC BY