“I can help you.”
Anna shook her head, afraid to believe, to hope. The man in the room with her had paid for her earlier in the evening, and now she was listening as a woman on the other end of his cell phone, a woman who spoke Russian, offered her a way out.
The man was an investigator, she said, and he could help her escape.
Anna had given up thinking it was possible. And yet …
She told the woman it was too risky. That she’d be hurt if her owners found out. The woman said she understand her fear, but the man could be trusted. He could bring the police and have the owners arrested. He had evidence. But he needed her to tell him she wanted out.
But just as quickly, she imagined a boot stomping the dirt over the seed, forever squashing her hope.
She shook her head no.
Anna had been a moment away from rescue, but she let the moment pass.
As morning dawned, Anna realized it may have been her only chance to escape the prison that had become her life. If only she could have another chance. She hadn’t thought much about God, figuring He must not exist if men were capable of such evil. Yet she found herself praying, God, if You’re there and You see, please, get me out of here.
That night, the man from the previous night returned, and Anna fought to hide her astonishment. Not knowing whether he would approach her again or not, she tried to think of a way to get a message to him. When her captors were haggling with a customer over a price, Anna reached for a paper and pen, seemingly miraculous in their appearance.
“Please help me.”
The investigator was watching her and found a way to reach her without drawing attention. She slipped him the note, hoping her eyes sent a message also.
The man nodded, Anna’s only assurance that he’d received her message. He left almost immediately, and Anna felt more alone than before.
She didn’t know how long before he’d return, if he’d return.
She’d been fooled by promises too good to be true before.
Was she a fool again?
Weeks later, Anna dreamed of rescue. Of men kicking in the door to their hovel, of handcuffs on the men who owned them, of seeing daylight and tasting freedom. She woke up in the darkness of their living space and began to weep. It was only a dream.
Loud shouts outside the door brought more tears and the girls huddled together in a corner, afraid of what was on the other side. They recognized the word for “police” and Anna’s head lifted slightly. Then the door came crashing in and men were searching the room. Anna saw the investigator and dared to believe.
Her dream was reality.
Rescue had come.
Anna’s story concludes next month with the fourth and final installment.