“Be Strong” by Shreya Sapkota
At the break of the dawn, Dory dressed in her yoga pants and sweatshirt went for a long walk along the shore of the beach. The peace of mind she got from the cool breeze was her only coping mechanism. She was a workaholic, a machine some said, she moved as if she had no feelings and nothing could break down her hard demeanor. But everyone has a breaking point, everyone needs some calm and this was her only calm.
Being a lawyer, it was a given to have a tough demeanor so that what you said and did was taken seriously. But Dory Karen was not just some lawyer she was nobody, absolutely no one, when suddenly there was this one case followed by dozens of others with a continuous winning streak and she was the goddess of justice. She was worshiped by the poor and victims, respected by the judges and her peers and feared by the unjust. Dory had never imagined that her life would take this turn, after all, she was just some ordinary girl with average grades, average living and friends, and family who loved her all the same. But, the night of April 5th of her senior year at high school, ten years ago, had changed everything.
April 5th started like any other day, when she was done with her classes for the day and was on her way to her part-time job at Macy’s, she got called to the hospital. Her parents had been in an accident, her mother, who was driving was in a critical condition while her dad was awake and wanted to talk to her. The way her father looked that day would always remain at the back of her head. The big gush of the wound through his forehead, swollen eyes and chapped lips and blood which was everywhere. He had hidden his pain by smiling brightly at her which still brought tears to her eyes. He had held her tight and told her it was all going to be alright and after a while when the doctor came and she was asked to leave, he simply said: “Be strong –“. And, that was what she worked to be, strong – strong to hide her weakness, strong for the people she was helping fight for justice and strong for her father. That day she became an orphan and that was when she started her new life.
Snapping out from her thoughts once she reached her house she got ready for work- a small law firm just around the corner of the town. With her petite body, manageable straight blonde hair and a pretty decent face she never bothered with make-ups and accessories, all she had to do were get into her work clothes and shoes and she was on her way. Once she reached her office she was welcomed by her college friend and co-worker Ethan Dole with coffee.
“Hello, my gorgeous lady, what a fine day!” exclaimed a beaming Ethan. He was the perfect definition of tall, dark handsome- with perfect captivating blue eyes, dark hair and a cocky smirk plastered to his face which made girls drool over him. He could get any girl except Dory, who hardly thought anything about him other than a friend, even with his constant flirting.
“Not just a fine day it’s going to be a productive day too. You and me, Ethan, are going to win the Douglas case today” replied Dory.
“Sure, and I’m taking you out for drinking and you can’t refuse this time!”
“But—“ “No buts we’re going drinking and that’s that”
The Douglas case was one of the trickiest cases she had encountered. The Douglas family had been tormented for a long time by the group of gangsters who claimed to be in a group named “Candle”(which was a very odd name for a gangster squad).Abducting and beating their children was the last straw and they had filed a complaint after which one of their children had been killed and they had come to Dory. Having the power and support of higher authorities has made it a hard case for the Douglas but finally, the case was about to be closed. After all that they’ve been through, in this case, she believed that she owed him that much and agreed to it.
Once the court was adjourned on the favor of justice to the Douglas, Ethan and—went to the bar down the road to get some drinks. Ethan had a lot to drink and for a first time in a while – was also drunk outside the walls of her house. The drinks and conversation turned into dancing and then after that Ethan started getting mellow. The mellow conversation started to get to Dory and it was like she was finally seeing Ethan for this guy other than her friend but then she snapped out of it.
“Umm—I think it’s time I leave for the day. It’s—umm, not even the weekend and I’m a little tired. “said – with a little slur in her words.
“No worries Dory, I’ll drive you home in my car.” declared Ethan in a more slurry voice. It took a lot of time to convince Ethan that it was not possible for him to drive in this condition and to get him into the cab with his address. After having sent Ethan with a cab to his way she started walking towards her home at it was in walking distance. Right around the corner of the house, she thought she saw a black silhouette of a man and then something hit her head and she was knocked out.
When she woke up she had been blindfolded and the first thing she sensed was the odd damp smell that hung around the place she was in. It was like she had been to this place before, once she realized what had happened last night she started tugging at her hands which were tied to a chair and she was in no condition to move. After struggling some more, she heard a door open and in came a more unpleasant smelling person. She stopped fidgeting and the person who entered the room kept silence for a while.
“What is all this? Let me go! What do you want with me?” asked Dory.
“Shut up! We want nothing with you, we’re just waiting for orders to kill you.”, shouted the man.
“B—b-but why? Why would someone want to kill me?”, asked a terrified Dory.
“Who cares? I get paid that’s all I know.” With that, the man walked out of the door.
After that encounter the dread and terror of being killed gripped her. She was so anxious and frightened that she didn’t realize she was crying. She couldn’t come to terms with dying, dying when she hadn’t even lived to the fullest. She reminisced about the times she refused to party with her friends, the times she missed out on travels or holidays and most of all she regretted not kissing Ethan earlier. She realized she had never had a boyfriend and realized all the attempts Ethan made to ask her out. She wished Ethan would come and save her just like in movies but this wasn’t a movie and with that weight, in her heart and exhaustion she again blacked out.
On the other side, Ethan was afraid Dory was mad at him for being so drunk last night and after calling – for almost ten times went to visit her. When he reached her house, he saw that the door was open and all her stuff were scattered and destroyed. He immediately informed the police about it and a lot of questioning were in progress. This was a normal scene for Ethan but now seeing that the person missing was someone he had feelings for wasn’t easy. He hadn’t completely fathom his feeling for Dory until now, he couldn’t think clearly. All he could think was all the times he could have asked her out and he felt worse for being so irresponsible yesterday. The police with his continuous interrogation were not helping either, he finally couldn’t take it anymore and went to the shore of the beach which wasn’t far from the house Dory lived in.
The four- five peaceful minute relaxed his mind and he thought more clearly and that’s when he remembered the Douglas case, the “Candle” gang and immediately returned and told the police all about it. The police started their investigation immediately and after almost a whole day they finally got a lead and Ethan insisted on going with them to the gang’s hideout.
Dory was on the verge of death and all she could think was of Ethan. She realized throughout her life she had lost so many people, her parents, her new demeanor after her parent’s death had created a drift between her high school friends, the only friend or someone who has been with her for a long time was Ethan. Her thoughts and feelings were all over the place when she heard commotions through the doors.
There was this huge commotion and suddenly she heard the door to her room open and someone entered who had enclosed Dory in a tight hug. Just by the proximity, she realized it was Ethan and she heaved a sigh of relieved. Ethan realized that Dory was blindfolded and immediately removed the fold and kissed her for the very first time.
Sparks flew for the both of them, it was like out of the world experience for Dory and once they broke for air the first thing Dory said was “I love you Ethan” and blacked out.
Ethan was in the hospital sitting on the chair beside Dory’s bed. He was thinking if what he heard Dory say was real or his imagination. All his thoughts were, it was something he was planning to say and just like that, it was out of Dory’s mouth. When Dory opened her eyes and looked at Ethan to give that brightest smile of hers, he realized that what he heard earlier was real and immediately he kissed her again.
That day and that kiss were another turning point of Dory’s life that was when she started living her life to her own terms. She had never withered in front of others and never leaned on others before that day because she believed that was the only way her father would find peace, by being strong and independent. From that day, she was ready to let go of the facade and maybe start a new life with someone to lean on to lose her guard and have someone to hold her through her weak days. Maybe, and she hoped that she maybe was a very positive one, Ethan was the someone for her who would be there for her for forever.