While I have many, many stories, this is one that stands out for me.
About 17 years ago, I lived with a partner who had a teenage daughter whom I got on with quite well. But of course I wasn't her mother so she didn't share all her intimate life with me. She had a few friends but was recovering from recently breaking up with her boyfriend, Joe, whom she claimed had tried to punch her in the face. I shall call her Leah here (all names changed to protect confidentiality).
One early evening in our house, I was upstairs when the phone downstairs rang. I suddenly felt sick terror as Leah picked up the receiver, cutting off the ringing. I didn't want to eaves drop, but became agitated and worried as I heard Leah's muted voice below. I saw in my mind, Leah leaving the house and felt a gut wrenching feeling of danger!
Leah hung up the phone just as I reached the bottom of the stairs. She didn't say what the phone call was, but looking at my face (now white with fear), said "what's up with you?"
I replied, as evenly as I could, " I didn't hear your phone call, nor do you need to tell me what it was about, but if you are planning on going out tonight, please, please don't because I think something really bad will happen to you."
Like most teenagers, Leah looked at me with a contemptuous roll of her eyes. But I continued, " no, really, I will feel so upset if you go out tonight... Why not change it to another night...anything, just not tonight! " Leah softened her gaze. I had never been one to lay down hard rules, but something must have told her to consider my words because she said, "OK, I won't go out if it will make you feel better." She looked concerned. I managed a wan smile and a faint "thanks, it will."
Weeks went by, and neither Leah or I mentioned that phone call, and then one day she came home after a shopping trip. "Hey, do you remember that phone call I got, the one that you flipped out about and asked me to stay in the house?" Leah asked. I nodded. She went on, " Well I met Clair today, I haven't seen her for ages. It was Clair that called that night. Clair is the girlfriend of one of Joe's friends. Well apparently some of Joe's friends said they were all getting together and had asked Clair to ask me to go to along that night too for a party. When I saw her today, she said it was so good that I never turned up. Unknown to her, Joe's friends were all pretty mad that I had split up with him, and they were going to beat me up. Clair said she didn't know that when she called me that night, and said she was sorry.
So, you were right, I would have been in danger if I'd gone out that night. Thanks."
With that bombshell of news, Leah turned away and went off to her bedroom seemingly unfazed. I was shaking. How close was that!