THE ATONEMENT CHILD.

CHAPTER 11.

Dynah couldn’t stop shaking. She asked the nurse if she could shower but was told she would have to wait until after the doctor had seen her. The nurse helped her undress and don a white hospital gown. Shivering Dynah watched the nurse put her torn, stained waitress uniform, undergarments, and shredded nylons into a large plastic bag. Her middy snow boots were placed in another. Both bags were given to someone waiting outside the door.

Dynah’s teeth chattered, but her chill had nothing to do with the temperature of the room, which was kept at a comfortable sixty-eight degrees. The shaking, the terrible cold, came from inside her. Even the blanket the nurse put around her did nothing toward off the chill.

“I’ll get you another blanket, Miss Carey,” the nurse said and went out.

Dynah almost protested, afraid to be alone. Clutching the blanket, she sat on the edge of the examining table, wondering what she was going to wear home. The silence increased her anxiety. She wanted desperately to wash. She yearned to stand beneath a scalding spray, so she could soap and scrub every inch of her body and wash away what had happened.

Would she ever be cleanser of it? Could she wash the horror from her mind and heart? She squeezed her eyes shut, willing the images in her mind away. She was safe now. Or was she? Her eyes flew open. She’d thought she was safe before, but that had been an illusion, ripped away. Sitting on the examining table in the short, backless gown, she felt naked and as vulnerable as she had been in the park. Sick with fear, she looked from one end of the cubicle to the other for some avenue of escape. She wanted to go home. Home to her parents. Home to the house on Ocean Avenue. But what would her parents say? Perhaps locked in her dorm room, she would feel safer.

Someone rapped on the door, and she jumped. A doctor entered, the nurse who had taken her clothes just behind him.

“I’m Dr. Kennon, Miss Carey. How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” she said without thinking. Wasn’t that what she always said in a doctor’s office? She grimanced, her eyes tearing up, and he winced. When she spoke again, she hardly recognized her own voice. “Could I take a shower, please? I want to take a shower.”

“In a little while.” He reached into his pocket and took out a small tape recorder. Depressing the button, he set it on the counter to his right. “Now, let’s take a look at the eye first.”

As he gently tested the bruised flesh and flashed a small light into her pupil, he told her he was recording the examination in order to help the police apprehend her attacker. He asked her if she was experiencing any dizziness. Some, she said. She was nauseated.

“Lie down, please.”

The nurse assisted her, speaking softly, encouraging her to follow the doctor’s instructions. Dynah trembled even more violently as he examined her scrapes and asked more questions.

As she answered, she relived the nightmare in the park, seeing it from every angle. Some of the questions the doctor asked made her blush with embarrassment and pale shame. Was she on birth control? When was her last menses? He wanted details about what had happened to her, details she was loathe to remember, let alone speak aloud.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Everything you’re telling us will help the police.”

And who would help her?

God, where were you?

When the doctor told her to scoot her bottom to the end of the table and put her feet in the stirrups, she didn’t understand.

The nurse, sensitive to her anguished, tried to explain as delicately as possible.

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