I wouldn't have seen this coming if it had been written on a paper and shoved in front of my face. It's just so ...... unexpected. Some people would say that I'm making history. I don't know if that's quite the way to describe it. You see, it all started when I was twelve. Well ... a little before that, I guess.
There was a man who had been stalking me for months. He had set his mind on having me but he was sure that he'd get in trouble unless he could find a way around the age difference. (He was nineteen) He then had a brilliant idea. He figured that he could just buy a house in the woods, kidnap this twelve year old that didn't even know him, and keep her there where they would live the perfect love story. That's not exactly how it went though.
I stayed with him for years and years. Then, one lucky year (it must've been the year of the sheep!), He told me that he would grant me one wish. He would give me anything I wanted that he could get me. (That meant that things like a car or seeing my family were probably out of the picture.) After thinking for a few days, I requested that he give me something simple. A journal and something to write with. He gave it to me happily and for the remainder of my time in that house, the journal was my best friend.
I wrote in the journal daily and even had something specific that I would write on every page. I wrote a simple plea that, if anyone were to find the book or at least a page, they would give the page to my police who would use the information on it to find me. Two years after I got the journal, Michael trusted me enough to take me to a park that was just outside the woods (Michael is the man who held me captive). I took the journal and the necklace that he'd given me and, when he wasn't paying attention, I set the book and necklace on the ground and covered it with leaves. I hope that someone would find it someday and come for me.
The same year that I had hid the book, someone came. I had been losing hope but Detective Min saved me and even took me in. I did have a place to go but I needed time to myself. It was weird since I had been mostly alone for so long but I needed time to adjust and Detective Min and his wife were kind enough to let me stay with them. May (Detective Min's wife) even tried to help me find a job that I loved. I couldn't find anything that seemed to fit me though.
My life had been full of luck though and my luck saved me once again with something I could have never imagined. I was just walking down the street eating ice cream when a woman approached me and asked to speak. She spoke all about how she would love it if I could give a motivational speech to her and a group of friends. She and the friends were recovering girls who had also been victims of kidnappers. They had seen me on the news and saw how I seemed so unbothered by it all. She told me how she couldn't believe that she had actually met me in person and how she would really love it if I would just let them all in on my secret. She gave me her number and left just like that.
After thinking it over, I figured - why not? I didn't know how good I would be about speaking to a crowd. Even though it was just a small one, I hadn't seen another human besides Michael for twelve years. I missed all of my years as a youth so I wasn't supposed to be the best socially. I learned that I'm a little too blunt when I spoke with May for the first time. She also wondered how I could speak so freely and not be more shaken by such an experience.
Anyway, I ended up doing a pretty great job at being a motivational speaker. The lady's friends told their friends and even more people wanted to listen. Eventually, people were renting out stadium sized places for me to speak to them and a crowd. I became pretty famous. They even gave me a name. Instead of just being, Jessica Smith, I got to be something more. Something I found pretty great if I do say so myself. They all call me, The Girl Who Defied Twelve. You might have already guessed why they call me that. Because I was twelve when I was taken, I stayed there for twelve years, I had twelve pencils and twelve pieces of jewelry (if you count the necklace that I left with the book). I definitely held onto the number.
Here I am now. Standing in front of millions. Defying the number twelve once more by meeting in the middle of the day. Twelve O'Clock. (I found it fitting since it would be hard for people to make in the middle of the day and on the twelfth day of the month which happened to be a Wednesday. So it was the middle of the week too!)
The microphone screeched as I moved it a little further away from my mouth. I walked down the long stage and looked out into the crowd to make eye contact with as many people as I could before it hit twelve. I glanced at my watch and stopped walking at the end of the stage. I smiled and looked up.
"It's really great to be here!"
Cheering. I hadn't even said anything cheer-worthy yet but I had already gotten the prize for doing a good performance. I smiled and continued to talk.
"If you're new, hi! You were probably dragged here by a family member or friend so I'll try not to take too much of your time. I have a feeling you'll find this interesting though!"
I made eye contact with a girl who didn't look so comfortable. I lightly smiled and got a light smile back.
"I'm glad you could make it!"
I said, before looking away.
"My name is Jessica Smith, otherwise known as The Girl Who Defied Twelve! Twelve is kind of my number. Lucky and unlucky! I'll give a brief explanation of why I'm even up here. I was kidnapped when I was twelve. I stayed captive with the man who kidnapped me for the next twelve years of my life! It wasn't as bad as you're probably thinking. He never beat me up or even forced me to do something that I didn't want to do. If I said no, it meant no. If I said stop, it meant stop. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful that those words meant somethings to him. Not everyone is kidnapped. And not everyone who is kidnapped is as lucky as me. I was lucky that my captor seemed to love me in his own sick and twisted way. People wonder how I can be so cheerful. I've been asked a simple question many times but every time I hear it it still makes me think. "How can you even smile while talking about something as painful as this?" I reflect on this question a lot. It's simple. Why not? Why not smile? Why not laugh? Why feel sad about something that doesn't have to effect me anymore? Yes. It hurts to think of all the years I missed, but if I spend all my time mourning the years that I missed, won't I miss even more years!? Why even give sadness something to eat? Why feed sadness when happiness is what makes you grow?"
I pointed at a young man in the front row.
"Has someone ever hurt you? In any way? Physically, emotionally, mentally ....?"
The boy nodded.
"Do you still think about it?"
The boy nodded again.
"Why? Does it help you?"
The boy thought for a moment and then he spoke.
"I suppose I could learn from it."
"Exactly!" I said. "At most, these bad experiences can teach you something! That means that something good came from it. Why think of the bad that came from it when you can think of the good?"
"What if there's no benefit?!"
I heard an older man's voice yell from the crowd. I smiled and spoke as I looked out at him.
"If that experience doesn't benefit you, get rid of it. You don't need it. Why let it take space in your mind. You."
I pointed at a younger girl.
"You take pictures, right?"
The girl answered.
"What do you do with the pictures that you don't feel turned out right?"
"I delete them?"
The girl said. I laughed.
"Exactly! Why keep something that you don't find beneficial to you. If it hurts you or embarrasses you then get rid of it! And if you can learn from it then keep it as a good lesson! It's happy now. You learned something and the sadness is over! Live your life with joy! Geed happiness! Don't feed sadness! Thank you!!"
I waved as the crowd stood up and cheered. Time seemed to stop for a moment as my eyes stopped on a woman in the crowd. Mom. Mom was there. She smiled and I smiled back as my eyes filled with hot tears. I waved and quickly turned to walk down the stage before I started to sob. My shoulders lightly shook as I stepped off of the stage. Mom was listening. I turned back once more and watched as mom's figure slowly rose into the air until she was gone.
"I love you, Jessica."
Mom mouthed back.
"I love you too." I said quietly as she completely disappeared from my sight.