To The Woman Who Save My Life
By: Dannah Axelrod
I want you to know that I still think about you. I still think about that night you saved my life. I stillthink about how brave and courageous you are, and how I can only wish that one day, I can be asstrong as you.
His hand was desperately trying to muffle my screams as I cried for someone to help me. I couldhear your faint voice in the distance yell “let her go!” as you ran outside your apartment to save me.I could see my predator in the distance, running farther and farther away. I ran up to you when hewas finally gone, and you hugged me tight as I cried in your arms. I stared at the flip-flop he leftbehind after he sprinted over the train tracks.
You went to grab me juice from the kitchen, as I stared at my reflection in your gold-lined mirror. Ididn’t recognize the girl staring back at me. My hair was falling out in clumps and my face was badlybruised. I tried licking the blood off my lips but it stung as I put my tongue to the wound. You cameto the mirror and grabbed a brush from the sink. You stroked my hair and pulled it up into aponytail and whispered that I was safe. You told me that I was your beautiful American girl as Ichoked back tears and tried to erase the memory of the night.
Just then, I remember you spun me around to face you. I remember how beautiful you were —inside and out. You hugged me and said in your thick Italian accent, “please, don’t let this ruin you.This night can only destroy you if you let it.” I can hear those words still and see your smile. You satme down and told me your story about the night you were riding on your moped and three menstopped you, pulled you off and threw you in the back of their truck. After they were finished, theylet you out and you drove back home shirtless. I remember you kept talking about how they rippedyour favorite shirt. You loved that shirt.
We spent every day together after that night. I remember cooking you dinner and us drinking wineand laughing until 2 in the morning. I remember the outdoor concert you took me to with the neonlights swirling on the building that looked like a midlevel castle. I remember the green-beadedbracelet you bought me when you told me that you saw yourself, when you looked at me. Iremember feeling a closeness and bond with you that I didn’t know existed. I remember your fiancégiving me a rose on the steps of the Duomo and singing a silly song just to make me laugh. Iremember your smile, your voice, your eccentric outfits, and your beautiful soul.
I want to let you know that you have made me a better person. You have made me strong,sympathetic, and fearless. I lost my virginity years later, the way it was supposed to happen — andthat is all because of you. So don’t worry about me, because I have turned into a person you wouldbe proud of. I am writing this letter to you, because I want the world to know that you exist — thatas many people there are out there that will hurt them, there are that many others that will helpthem, too.
It was a battle of good vs. evil that night, and we won.
I have not spoken about this memory in over 10 years, and now I am choosing to tell it in order togive hope to others who have had to endure such a traumatic event. You inspire me and hopefullythis story will have the power to inspire others. Even though I will carry the weight of this painful
memory forever, I will also have you, my beautiful guardian angel, as a standing symbol of hope,bravery, and compassion. I am not a victim, and neither are you. That night did not ruin me, becauseit brought me to you.
The last night I ever saw you, before I was about to board my plane back home to Philadelphia, youtold me you loved me. You are the only stranger I have ever loved. We have not spoken since, andthe phone number I have tried to call you on is missing one digit. But I still wonder what it wouldbe like if we ever met face to face again. I would come to Florence, and you will still live in the sameapartment even though 10 years have passed. You will open the door, and know exactly who I am.