“Amy? Honey? Where are you?” Freddy woke up with a start, finding himself alone in his bed. Amy had been with him when he fell asleep last night, and as she hated sleeping by herself, he couldn’t imagine she had gone home in the middle of the night. Freddy sat up in bed and glanced at his clock. Six in the morning, Saturday. Amy was most definitely not a morning person, so where the hell was she? Freddy got out of bed and slid on his boxers. He usually slept with them on, but after a night of lovemaking, he was more apt to leave them off. Freddy padded from room to room, softly calling Amy’s name. He would pause each time, silently begging her to answer him. Nothing.
“Damn it, Amy, where are you?” Freddy went back to his bedroom to pick up his cell so he could call Amy. It rolled over to voicemail, so Freddy left a message imploring Amy to call him back as soon as possible. Feeling helpless, he went to start the coffee perking.
The hours dragged. He tried to read the news online, but his eyes kept straying to his cell. He tried not to stare at it, but he couldn’t help it. No matter how much he glared at his phone, however, it remained silent. Periodically, Freddy checked to make sure it was still fully charged—it was. Freddy had planned on running a few errands including stopping at the grocery store. His pantry was low, and Amy loved it when he cooked for her. She said it made her feel pampered because neither her father nor her mother had cooked much when Amy was a little girl. They had had a housekeeper and a cook, but it wasn’t the same. Freddy had grown up in a middleclass family, and he couldn’t fathom having hired help in the house. Both his parents had worked as professors, and then they came home and did the housework together. Ever since he was two, Freddy had been expected to help out around the house. Amy, on the other hand, didn’t even know how to sew a button onto a shirt.
“Damn it, Amy. Call me.” By noon, Freddy couldn’t stand it any longer. He picked up his landline and called the cops. They made it exceedingly clear that they thought he was jumping the gun in contacting them. They didn’t even begin looking for missing adults until twenty-four hours had passed. When they found out it was Jack Robertson’s oldest daughter, they were even less-inclined to search for her because, as they put it, “she doesn’t know if she’s coming or going”. Freddy slammed the phone down, furious that the cops were so blasé about his missing girlfriend. What if someone had taken her as a way to get to her father? Up until this point, Freddy had never talked to Jack Robinson, but he knew the senator’s phone number—his private one. He had seen it on Amy’s phone, and Freddy had a good memory for numbers. He picked up his landline again and called the senator. After the phone rang five times, someone picked up.
“Senator Robertson. How did you get this number?” The senator’s voice was brusque to the point of rude.
“Senator Robertson, this is Freddy Am—“
“You are the man dating my daughter. The progressive.” The senator spat out the last word as if it were an epithet. “What do you want?”
“Amy is missing. I thought you should know.” Freddy struggled to keep his voice level despite his immediate antipathy for the senator.
“Now I do. Do not call my number again.” With that, the senator hung up. When Freddy tried to call him back, the senator did not answer.
At the end of his rope, Freddy called Rose to get her advice on what he should do. She listened to him recount the whole story, which really wasn’t much in the retelling. She didn’t comment as he stumbled over his words as she knew he needed to say everything in one fell swoop or he would never get it out. She made noises of commiseration, however, because she knew he needed the comfort. When Freddy had given Rose all the pertinent information, he stopped speaking and waited for her to say something. When she did, however, it wasn’t anything he wanted to hear.
“Call Linus. He can help you better than I can.” Freddy hung up the phone and stared at it. He did not want to call Linus. He did not want to hear the vitriolic things Linus would have to say about Amy. Freddy knew, however, that Rose was right. With deep reluctance, he called Linus.
The story was worse than he had feared. Linus had bedded Amy the first night they were together as well. However, she had immediately disappeared on him, and he had chalked it up to a one-night stand. When she reappeared at his apartment three days later, he wasn’t displeased because she had been a hellcat in bed. He had started to go into details, but Freddy quickly put a stop to that. Linus said that a pattern was soon established. Amy would spend the night with Linus, fuck him senseless, and then she would disappear for a few days. When she returned, she never talked about where she’d gone or what she’d done—she just acted as if no break had occurred and expected Linus to pick things up where they had left them. At first, that was fine with Linus as he was getting the best sex of his life. In the first month, the pattern shifted so that Amy was spending three or four days with Linus before disappearing for a day or two. In the second month, her behavior grew more erratic. She stayed up to five days with Linus, and her disappearances began to vary widely. Once, it was a whole week. By the beginning of the third month, Linus couldn’t take the emotional push-and-pull any longer and confronted Amy. He demanded to know what she was doing when she disappeared. She refused to tell him. Then, he demanded that she not disappear on him. She promised she wouldn’t and kept her promise for two weeks before vanishing once again. By the time she came back three days later, Linus was done with her.
“Did you ever find out where she went?” Freddy asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer.
“No. I knew there were other guys involved, though. She wasn’t as discreet as she thought she was.” There was a weariness in Linus’s voice that hadn’t been there when he first started talking about Amy. Freddy left it at that and hung up the phone. Then, he waited for Amy to come back to him. And waited. Two interminably-long days later, she came back.
“Freddy!” Amy threw her arms around Freddy’s neck and hugged him tightly. “It’s so good to see you, baby!” Amy kissed Freddy on the lips and slid her hand down his back. Freddy broke away and held her hands in his.
“Where the hell have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you.” Freddy’s voice was low, but there was a rawness to it that even Amy could not ignore. She winced slightly, but did not try to pull away.
“I’m here now, baby. Isn’t that what matters?” Amy stared up at Freddy, naked desire in her eyes. Freddy found himself weakening, no matter how he tried to remain resolved. He shook himself slightly to break himself of her spell.
“You were gone for two days. You didn’t respond to my voicemails or my emails. Where were you?” Freddy gazed at Amy, careful to keep his body away from hers. He knew that if he touched anything more than her hands, he would succumb to her charm. Amy deflated before his eyes, making him feel even more like a brute.
“Freddy, I—I need to tell you something. Can we sit down on the couch? Please?” Amy spoke in the tone of a little girl, which hurt Freddy even more. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak, and they simultaneously sat down. Amy automatically pressed her body into Freddy’s, and he moved so that only their thighs were touching. He waited for her to speak. When it appeared as if she wasn’t going to say anything, he prodded her verbally.
“You said you needed to tell me something. So talk.”
“Freddy, I want you to listen to what I have to say without commenting. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes.” Freddy wanted to add more, but he thought it prudent to hold his tongue. Taking a deep breath, Amy began.
“I’m bipolar, Freddy. Do you know what that means?” Amy waited until Freddy nodded, then she continued.
Amy knew since she was very little that she was different from other kids. Her moods were all over the place, but any time she tried to tell her parents, they would hush her up. They made her talk to their pastor who told her she was a bad girl because she couldn’t control her emotions. He ordered her to read the Bible for two hours every night and to pray for an additional hour after that. Her parents forced her to follow the pastor’s advice for a year before finally giving up. The ‘treatment’ didn’t help Amy’s mood, but it turned her off religion for good.
Amy bloomed into a beauty by the time she was thirteen. At the same time, her moods became even more extreme. The only thing that helped was marijuana, and she was soon smoking it every day. She didn’t have much money, but she soon learned that if she let a guy feel her up a bit, he would be more than willing to buy her some weed. One guy wasn’t content with that, however, and he demanded she go all the way before he would give her the marijuana. She refused. She had only been with one guy, and she never wanted to have sex again. Unfortunately, the guy she was with refused to take no for an answer and forced her. After he was done, he threw the marijuana at her and warned her not to tell anyone before he dumped here a mile from her home. She staggered her way home and immediately ran into the shower. She stayed in it, shivering, until she had to get out.
She didn’t mention the rape to her parents. Her father would have beaten her within an inch of her life if he knew what she’d been doing. Amy tried to shove the episode to the back of her mind and forget about it, but she couldn’t. It triggered a severe depressive episode, and she swallowed a bottle of aspirin in an attempt to end her life. However, her stomach protested, and she ended up throwing them back up into the toilet. Mrs. Robertson found Amy hugging the toilet bowl and wordlessly helped her clean up the mess. She must not have told her husband because Senator Robertson didn’t act any differently around Amy—meaning, unless he was lecturing her about something or the other, he ignored her.
Amy threw in the towel after that night. Since she was damaged goods, she reasoned that she might as well just fuck every boy in sight. She kept up her grades to avoid dissension at home, but she spent most of her spare time high. In her senior year, Amy had the scare of her life; she got pregnant. She didn’t know what the fuck she was going to do about it. There was no way she could tell her parents—they would kill her. Or, they would force her to have the baby and give it up for adoption. Amy knew with dead certainty that she did not want to have this baby. She went to her friend, Sheila, who had knowledge in this matter. Sheila directed her to a doctor who wouldn’t press Amy on parental notification, and Amy quietly took care of the problem. She quit doing marijuana and stopped sleeping around. She graduated from high school with honors and then attended Wheaton College per her father’s orders. She went on to obtain her MA in education and dutifully became a teacher, also as her father wanted. She was a terrible teacher, but her father didn’t care about that.
Amy was sober for five years when she fell into an extremely black depressive episode. She tried to fight it using conventional methods like taking a walk and talking to friends, but it threatened to overwhelm her. As she went about her daily life, she began to notice all the ways she could kill herself. Driving off the road on the highway. Closing the garage door with the car still running and falling asleep. Slitting her wrists. Jumping off the Van Buren Street Bridge. Buying a gun and shooting herself. She became obsessed with suicide to the point where she couldn’t sleep. Finally, in an act of desperation, she scored some weed and toked up for the first time in five years. Immediately, her mind relaxed, and she was able to stop thinking about killing herself. She went to the bars that night and picked up a stranger and fucked him all night long, thus establishing a pattern that she had yet to break.
“Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?” Freddy asked, his voice remote. He had to stuff down his emotions because it wasn’t pretty when he got angry.
“I can’t help myself,” Amy said in a small voice. “It’s how I keep myself alive.” Amy tentatively touched the back of Freddy’s hand, and he jerked away as if he had been burned.
“You could see a shrink,” Freddy said harshly, standing up from the couch. He couldn’t bear to look at Amy, not when he was in such turmoil. “There are other ways of coping, you know.”
“I can’t. My father doesn’t approve of psychiatry.” Amy stood up, too, and walked over to Freddy. She stood behind him and placed her arms around his waist. Though he stiffened in her embrace, he didn’t pull away. “Freddy, I love you. I need you. I don’t want to lose you. Please. Don’t be mad.”
“Don’t be mad?” Freddy turned so he was facing Amy. His anger melted a little when he saw the beseeching look in her eyes. “Amy, I love you, too, but you need help. Real help. More help than I can give you.”
“I’ll see a psychiatrist if that will make you feel better,” Amy said quickly, pressing a kiss against Freddy’s cheek. “This is the first time I haven’t left a guy in the first week. You’re special, Freddy. I can feel it here.” Amy grabbed Freddy’s hand and pressed it to her heart. He softened a little more, but kept his voice hard.
“I want you to see a psychiatrist because it’ll make you feel better—not me.” Freddy took Amy’s hand in his and kissed the back of it. “You don’t have to be this way, Amy. You really don’t.”