Soon after I returned home the police had let April go. However, she had by then forgotten my address and had wandered a while trying to find me.
So I invited her inside, and offered her something to eat.
While I heated leftovers she sat at my dining room table, across from Aaron working on his laptop, and admired my house and asked how many kids I had.
You must understand as I tell this that her story changed daily, with the same elements, and I believe that each iteration got us closer to the true story.
That night she told me about the kids she had, the brutal attack she endured in her home, the way she was afraid to testify against her attackers because they threatened to harm her children, and how her former husband had moved away with them to keep them safe.
At the first telling she didn't know where they were and she stayed in this neighborhood hoping they would come back to find her. I let her talk, she was comfortable talking that night, her manner diffident, and occasionally she almost cried.
I offered her some ice cream. "Oh, no thank-you she said," automatically. "Wait, I haven't had ice cream in forever. Could I please just have a little bit?"
"Of course," I answered and dished it up for her before going outside to set up the tent and bed.
It's a quick tent to set up, but by the time I got back in she was fast asleep, face down on the table, ice cream melting in the bowl beside her. I showed her the bathroom to wash up, found an extra toothbrush and helped her get settled. Then went inside to work a bit more before going to bed.
|for any early risers.|
She slept for almost 3 days!
When she finally woke on Friday that day was almost gone and breakfast was long past. I gave her something to eat and asked if she'd like to come to our fundraiser that night and help out. She was shocked that I would invite her to something, and shy. She went out to the tent and when I checked on her 5 minutes later she was asleep again. She was still sleeping when it was time to leave.
She awoke after we got home around midnight, and had a few of the extra brownies and left over pizza we bought for the volunteers before going back to sleep.
That's when I found out that she gave birth to a baby boy 7 weeks ago and he was in foster care. She had been living on the streets since he was 3 days old.
Saturday she woke up and accompanied us on our walk to Starbucks. My friend Brenda came down for the show and stayed the night so she came with us too. While we sat and talked April went over to hang out with a group of guys, also obviously homeless, that apparently she knew.
I really didn't think she would come back with us when we left. To my surprise, she did. But then on the walk home she needed to pee really bad, which is likely 7 weeks postpartum, but I also suspected her of other motives.
But she arrived at my gate 10 minutes after we got home and smoked a cigarette she had bummed while I made breakfast burritos.
We rushed off after that, we had a party to go to, and left her in the tent again. "Do you want me to leave?" she had asked when I told her.
"No, go ahead and stay. We'll be home in a few hours.
She was asleep when we got home.
Sunday afternoon, I invited her to my in-laws with us. A group of friends gets together for a potluck and bible study on the occasional Sunday. She was worried they wouldn't want her there.
So I texted my MIL to ask if it was ok and then showed her the reply. "Are you kidding me? You have to ask? Of course?"
She still wasn't sure.
When the time came to leave I found her in the tent and asked if she had decided. "I just don't feel like I can," she said. "All I seem to be able to do is eat, sleep and cry."
Tears started spilling onto the pillow. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm crying. I just feel so sad all the time."
I held her hands and said, "You've been through a lot recently. Your feelings might be finally catching up, now they have a chance. Go ahead and sleep some more. Tomorrow I'll drive you to some places I know of that might be able to help you."
I didn't tell her yet that Aaron was leaving in the morning, on another business trip, and he was nervous about leaving us on our own with her. So I had a day to find her an alternate arrangement.
Part 4 is next.