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It was like heaven, or at least as close to heaven as I could have ever imagined. Life was so simple back then and unbelievably kind. My space had plenty of privacy, and not a soul bothered me. I basically kept to myself for that period of my life. I suppose some people would say it was a time to find myself. For me, it was actually just a wonderful time of personal growth.

Each night, the soothing sounds of waves lapping nearby rocks would gently lull me to sleep. It was warm -- like a summer night after a much-needed rain shower. And I can't even remember feeling the thirst or hunger pains that I've since felt. At times, from somewhere beyond the hissing surf, I could hear the foreign tongue of a woman singing the sweetest notes I had ever heard. That was my favorite! She had such a lovely voice. There were many nights where those soft melodies put me to sleep. She must have been shy because I never saw her face. Even so, I knew she was some kind of angel, and I quickly came to rely on her to quell my smallest worries. It really was a heavenly time.

And then it happened! I can only hope that time will erase the memory from my mind...

I was waking from one of my afternoon siestas when my sweet dreams suddenly transformed into a horrifying nightmare. All at once, the walls felt like they were closing in all around me. I couldn't decide whether it was my imagination, a bad dream, or merely something I wasn't ready to face when I heard a wet sucking sound. I listened closely. The waves that usually brought on serenity began to rage out ferociously. Instinctively, I closed my eyes, as my head began to throb. As if my head was placed in some invisible vice, the pressure was so great that it made me want to vomit. For whatever reason, my peaceful world had abruptly erupted into chaos. I had no idea what was going on, but I sensed that it wasn't going to be good. For the first time in my life, I was paralyzed with fear.

An incredible force pulled at my tense quivering body, drawing me in one set direction. At first, I fought desperately to go back. And then I saw it. I was being drawn toward a bright light that came from a door. I had never even known the door existed! To my own bewilderment and surprise, I was strongly attracted to the light. I found myself fighting to reach it. My breathing quickened. My heart felt as if it would beat completely out of my chest. Still, I forged on.

Searching for that gentle voice that had always calmed me, I instead heard the most horrid screams coming from the other side of the door. It was my shy lady friend. Just then, my whole world began to shake and tremble and I knew I was not the only one in trouble. There was pain everywhere; in my body, in my mind, in my heart. The screams outside the door were far worse than anything I had ever heard. That, alone, scared me close to death. Still, some powerful force pushed and pulled, compelling me forward. There was so much pain, there was no way I was dreaming. Without knowing why, I went with it. The half of me that never wanted to go eventually gave way to the braver half. Call it curiosity, fate, whatever -- something beckoned everything inside of me to go. So I did.

What a mistake! No sooner did I have my head outside the door than I knew it was a mistake. The light that had attracted me so strongly just moments before, was now the most intense, obnoxious glare. It burned into my pupils and made my sweating head pound harder. I also remember the cold. No, not cold -- it was freezing.

Finally managing to squint, I spotted the faces of strangers who didn't look at all friendly. Some poked me, others prodded, and then I looked down and saw it. It was blood. There were puddles of blood everywhere. "Oh God," I thought, but it was too late. Someone lifted me in the air, turned me sideways, and slapped me. I howled at the top of my lungs. What injustice! I hadn't done anything.

And then I heard her. It was that gentle voice that had always rocked me to sleep. She was back, and at a whimper, she announced, "It's a boy, Herbert, and he's so beautiful. Light hair, blue eyes, ten fingers, ten toes..." She trailed off. She was crying, and it made me feel horrible. Then she pulled me to her. At that moment, no matter what we'd just gone through, I knew everything would be fine. Her face was as pretty as her voice.

As if breathing for the first time, I was laboring for air when I heard another familiar voice. This one was deeper and not as compassionate, but I still knew it. I shifted on the woman's chest to listen.

The man said, "He looks like either a Jacob or a Steven to me."

The pretty lady began crying again, but she eventually responded, "Then Jacob Steven Evans it is!"

And the rest, as they say, was history in the making. My journey had begun...

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