38: The Voice

38: The Voice

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

The Voice

No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.

~Guy H. King

Applause thundered across the dinner theater as we Godspell thespians bowed to the standing ovation. When the clapping subsided, we bee-lined to the dressing room and smeared on cold cream to remove our heavy make-up.

“You sure wowed them with your solo, ‘All Good Gifts,’ tonight,” Claire said.

“Thanks. Your ‘Day-by-Day’ was beautiful, too.” I glanced around the room for the girl who gave me a ride home each night, but I didn’t see her. “Has anybody seen Deb?” I hollered over the fray.

“Deb? She left with Robert to go grab a bite,” a fellow cast member said.

My shoulders sagged. How was I supposed to get home? I lived four miles from the theater, and no buses ran at this time of night. I couldn’t afford a taxi, and since none of the other cast members lived near me I hesitated to beg for a ride.

I changed into jeans and a T-shirt and mulled over my dilemma. Maybe a long walk home would tire me out and I’d get a good night’s sleep.

I plodded toward home, trying to avoid the streets with seedy bars and a bad reputation. I picked up my pace when I heard footsteps following behind me. But the ominous stranger gained ground until I could almost feel his breath on my neck. Hadn’t he ever heard of personal space?

My heart pounded and I tried not to panic. Cars whipped by and music blared from a fraternity house nearby. Surely he wouldn’t attack me on a busy street. Finally, I stepped aside and gestured for him to take the lead. “Why don’t you go ahead of me?” I said in a shaky voice. “I seem to be slowing you down.”

He grunted, barely acknowledging my offer, and strolled ahead of me. I dawdled until he was a healthy distance ahead, then crossed the street and headed down the secluded street on which I lived. After a four-mile trek, my feet ached and I was ready to flop into bed. Just six houses away now.

I scolded myself for my paranoia. The guy was probably wrapped up in his own worries and was clueless about the panic he’d caused by tailgating me.

Suddenly, my mouth was clamped shut in a vice-grip. Arms like those of a giant octopus snatched me from behind and dragged me off the sidewalk. I immediately recognized my assailant as the creep who had stalked me earlier. He must have doubled back and followed me down the dead-end street.

I kicked and fought and bit and clawed in a futile attempt to escape, but I was no match for this madman. He shoved me to the ground behind a stone fence. I suddenly recalled, just one month ago in Barre, Vermont, a girl my age had been raped, strangled, and dumped behind a stone fence on a quiet street, just like this one. The horrifying reality stabbed me like a sword. I was about to be raped and murdered, just like the Barre girl.

In desperation, I jerked my head away from his hand and let out a blood-curdling scream. I opened my mouth to let out another roof-raiser, but he slammed my jaw shut. “Shut up! Shut up, or I’ll kill you.” His eyes, wild and crazed, glared at me with contempt. With one tug, he ripped off my T-shirt and jammed it into my mouth as a gag. His hand tugged at the zipper of my jeans, while his knees pummeled my thighs into the ground.

My heart pounded at a dizzying rate. “Help me, Lord,” I pleaded. “Send somebody to rescue me. I’m about to be raped.”

But no one came. In a last-ditch effort to escape, I jerked my chest up, but he smashed me down again and tightened his grip on my arms. “You’re not going anywhere,” he spewed, a diabolical gleam in his eyes. “I’ve just started in on you.”

He pried my jeans from my uncooperative legs.

I couldn’t overpower this psychopath—every time I tried, he slammed me back to the ground, and with a gag in my mouth, I couldn’t scream.

“But you can pray,” a voice whispered in my head.

“Somebody help me! I’m about to be raped,” I pleaded silently to my only source of hope. Over and over I petitioned God with this same prayer, knowing I was powerless, but He was not.

My attacker loosened his trousers.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps pounding down the sidewalk and a man hollering, “Leave her alone! Leave her alone!”

My assailant bolted.

A man clad only in pajama bottoms helped me to my feet. “Are you okay?” he asked, concerned eyes peering into mine.

I burst into tears. “Thank you so much for coming. You saved my life.” I clutched his arm, never so grateful to meet a stranger in my life.

He escorted me to his house where his wife fetched a new T-shirt for me and a mug of chamomile tea to calm my frazzled nerves.

While we waited for the police, we rehashed the events of my attack. But then my hero dropped a bombshell. “When I heard you holler, ‘Somebody help me, I’m about to be raped,’ I knew I had to come.”

My heart lurched. “There’s no way you could have heard me say that. I was gagged.”

He scratched his head. “Well, I don’t understand it, but I clearly heard a voice say, ‘Somebody help me, I’m about to be raped.’ ”

His wife piped in. “The weird thing is, I never heard it, and I was lying in bed right next to him. But Ron insisted he’d heard it, so he threw on his pajamas and dashed out.”

My heart stopped. “Those were the exact words I had prayed. In my head.”

We stared at one another, stunned. How was that possible? Had he read my mind?

With sudden clarity, I knew God had intervened and transferred my desperate prayer into this man’s brain, just as though he had heard the words audibly.

A police siren blared and I spent the next several hours providing a police report.

My life had nearly been snuffed out, but God miraculously allowed me to live. And live I have, to His glory. I married my long-time sweetie, Nathan. I’ve sung in a touring Christian group, finished medical school and practiced primary care medicine for twenty-five years. Thanks to my second chance at life, I’ve published stories, nurtured two wonderful children, tended a cottage garden, and bicycled around Glacier and Banff National Parks.

How apropos that the words in my Godspell solo were “All Good Gifts Around Us, Are Sent from Heaven Above.” Even today, I marveled at the truth of those lyrics. He does send His children good gifts!

~Sally Willard Burbank

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