The next day, Julia had begun to get nervous. It was four in the afternoon, Carlyn hadn’t shown yet and she was supposed to be there by three. Julia was pacing the house, she was worried that Carlyn had changed her mind, decided not to testify due to her fear. Julia couldn’t think of another reason, it could only be something bad, especially with Julia’s luck. Carlyn would’ve called if she was only running late, but if she had changed her mind she wouldn’t have. Julia knew it.
“She’s not coming!” Julia said, exasperated.
“Give it some time, I am sure she will come.” Her mother told her, always the patient one.
Julia was tired of waiting, that’s all her life was those days; waiting to testify, waiting to hear what Justin would say, waiting for things to get back to normal, waiting to see how long it would take for Rick to realize that she was a hopeless cause and now, waiting for Carlyn to show up. The waiting was killing her faster than the HIV ever could. Just as Julia was about to walk out of the room, the doorbell rang. Julia was suddenly scared, what if things didn’t go right? What if just talking about it in person made Carlyn change her mind?
“Carlyn?” Julia asked when she answered the door.
“The one and only. Julia?” Carlyn replied, looking like she wanted to turn and run as fast as she could.
“Come on in, everyone’s waiting in the living room.” Julia said, stepping out of the way to let Carlyn pass.
They didn’t say anything as Julia led her to the living room.
“Carlyn, this is my mom Chani, my dad Larry, my sister Keira and Rick, my boyfriend.” Julia introduced them, gesturing to each on as she said their names.
“Hello.” Carlyn said shyly, not looking at any of them in the eyes.
“Nice to meet you dear,” Chani said lovingly, “Would you like to sit on the couch?”
“No thank you, I’m not staying long.” Carlyn declined politely.
“You might want to sit Carlyn, this could take a little while.” Julia told her, smiling kindly.
“Listen, I know I said I would do this but...I just can’t!” Carlyn said, her voice a whisper. Her hands out, pleading for them to understand.
“What? Carlyn I can’t do this without you!” Julia said, her voice rising with hysteria with each word she said.
“Julia,” Chani scolded, “Carlyn, please come sit so we can talk a little.”
Carlyn hesitated for a minute, but she finally agreed, there was something about Chani that you just couldn’t say no to.
“Carlyn, I know this is hard for you, but if you don’t face your fears now, you may never have another chance.” Chani explained to her very gently.
“She’s right,” Rick interjected, “I have seen how much the HIV has hurt Julia, what this savage has done to her, but I have also seen the good that can come from this trial. If you testify, you can help put that hellion behind bars for a very long time. But if you don’t, he’ll walk. And then you will have to face him day after day.” By the time Rick had finished with his little speech he had tears running down his face.
“But what do I do if I see him around town during the trial?” Carlyn asked, fear in her eyes.
“You tell him to kiss your ass.” Larry said, a smirk on his face.
“Easier said than done.” Carlyn said, looking Larry in the eye.
“No it isn’t, it’s three words. Kiss. My. Ass. See? That was easy.”
“I like you Larry, you sure know how to clear the tension from a room!” Carlyn said, laughing.
“My dad is great! He is always so straight forward!” Keira said, walking toward Carlyn “But seriously Carlyn, my sister needs you, she can’t do it without you. And we are all here for you, you’ve got our support and our love. We will help you through.”
“I believe you all, and it feels great to finally have someone know the truth. I’ll do it, but I am warning you now, my mom won’t help with anything; rides to court, meetings, here, she won’t get me a suit and she definitely won’t support me. She thinks I’m a slut, and nothing will change her mind.” Carlyn said, her voice breaking at the end.
“You’ve got us now Carlyn, you don’t need her. We'll be here for you the entire time, and after.” Chani said, already stepping into the mother roll.
“Th-thank you” Carlyn choked out.
After that, they called Mrs. Barton’s office and set up an appointment for her to meet Carlyn. Things were changing, Julia could feel it, her luck was changing again, only it was for the better this time. Carlyn was still afraid, but with Julia and her family supporting her, it was a less captivating fear. Because she had others with her, supporting her, it had gotten smaller than it ever had been since Justin raped her. And it was the same for Julia, she always had her family and Rick, but they would never fully understand what had and was still happening to Julia, but Carlyn did. For the first time in a very long time, they both felt strong, hopeful and euphoric. It was a great feeling, and they never wanted it to end.