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It was the year of 2010, and Abigail Westlin was on a weeklong cruise with her parents as a gift for her 16th birthday. Abby had always wanted to visit the Mexican Riviera, and now that day was finally here.  Of course her little brother, Michael, had to come along, but Abby was determined to have an amazing trip. It would have been, an amazing trip, that is, if it were not for the events that occurred in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. However, it was for reasons far worse than her little brother.

“Mom, I’ll be fine! Just stay on board and enjoy your massage. I’ll be back before you know it.” Abby spotted her phone on the bed and threw it her bag. She zipped it up, ready to leave the ship for Mazatlan. Abby was still having difficulty convincing her mom that she would be fine leaving the ship alone. There was no way was she staying at the water park on ship all day with her dad and little brother. She wanted to go explore, and it was obvious to her that she was old enough to handle herself. 

“I’m just worried. You know what happens to those young, pretty girls-“ Abby quickly interrupted her mom.

“Mom, that only happens in those stupid crime shows that you watch all the time. I’m 16; I can take care of myself.”

“I know sweetheart. It’s just that-“

 “Good!” Abby interrupted once again. “Then we’re in agreement!” She quickly kissed her mom on the cheek and shoved her boarding pass into the pocket of her denim shorts.  “I love you mom!” Abby shouted as she ran out the door.

As Abby finally left the ship, her excitement only grew. She stepped outside on to the warm concrete. Abby took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet aroma of the crisp salt water of the sea. She felt free, away from all the hustle of New York, as the breeze blew her hair around her face, freeing strawberry blonde wisps of hair from her ponytail. Her mind raced as she thought about what she would do in this beautiful city. The beach seemed like the perfect idea.

Abby somehow found her way through the streets of Mazatlan and ended up at the beach. She laid down her blanket on the golden sand and smothered on some tanning oil. She laid down and closed her eyes, letting the sun warm her skin as she listened to the crashing of the beautiful turquoise waves. Abby was only there for about an hour before rain begun to pour down and dark gray clouds began to cover the sun.  The raindrops felt like icy bullets piercing through her skin. Most of the tourists from the cruise fled back to the ship. Abby, however, was enraged. All she wanted was to be able to enjoy her vacation! So, she decided to wait it out. She quickly picked up her things and threw on her white t-shirt. Abby ran, her eyes vigorously scanning the dark landscape for someone who might actually know where to go. Suddenly, I heavy hand was placed on her shoulder. Abby whipped around to see a large, tan man with curly black hair towering behind her. A few other men began to gather behind the man. Abby began to grow painfully aware that there were no other people on the beach. She no longer felt the freezing cold rain against her skin, and in that moment, she was paralyzed by fear. Then it all went black.

When Abby came to, she was no longer in awe of the beauty of Mazatlan, Sinaloa. She was terrified. She didn’t want to explore, she wanted to be on the cruise ship with her mother and father. For the first time in her life, she longed to hear the endless whining of her little brother. She most certainly did not feel free. She felt trapped in some sick sort of nightmare. Abby closed her large emerald green eyes, silently counting to ten. She hoped that when she opened them, she would wake up from this horrible nightmare. To her dismay, this was no nightmare.  This was real. When she opened her eyes, she was still in the exact same place. Her arms and legs were roughly bound with rope, and she was sitting on a cold, concrete floor. The only thing that Abby could see was darkness, endless darkness. Suddenly, a figure emerged from that darkness with several more figures appearing behind it. From that day on, Abby was brutally raped and tortured every moment of every day for the next three weeks. They pulled on her hair and made her do terrible things that she never thought she would do in her lifetime. The men degraded her, calling her awful names as they slapped her around. Abby was covered in scratches, bruises, cuts, and burns. Her sweet innocence was ripped away from her so suddenly and so violently. What the men did to her was absolutely horrible. Abby never thought that this would happen to her-she thought those kinds of things only happened on TV. Her mother wasn’t being paranoid, she was right. Abby wished she never had left the ship. If she hadn’t, none of this would have happened. Abby sucked it up. She couldn’t scream, and she couldn’t cry. That would only make things worse. She suffered endlessly, and this seemed to be Abby’s new life. Until one day, that all changed.

Abby helplessly sat there on the concrete among the darkness. She expected the group of figures to appear, just as they always did. However, that day, they didn’t. They didn’t come at all for the next few days. Finally, one day, they did. They all came in at once, talking in their husky Spanish accents. They kept referring to her as “La Chica Americana”. Abby had no idea what was going on. They kicked her and instructed her to stand up, putting a blindfold on her and tying her wrists together. They walked her through a series of dark hallways until they were finally outside. They threw her into the trunk of a beaten up Toyota and began to drive.  The drive seemed to go on for forever, until the car finally stopped. Abby felt like she was going to throw up. They opened the trunk and pushed her out. She had managed to loosen her blindfold during the ride, but the men didn’t seem to notice.

Where am I? What’s going to happen to me? Where am I going? What will they do to me?  All these questions raced through Abby’s head as the group of men picked her up. One of the men got a call from someone, which appeared to be very urgent. She tried to listen to the conversation, trying her best to apply what she could remember from all those torturous years of Spanish class. She made out bits and pieces. Something about selling someone? The… the  Chica Americana? Oh my gosh. Me….they’re talking about me!  Abby was terrified; she had never been so horrified in her life. She took a deep breath, desperately trying to calm down. Suddenly, she smelled it; the salty ocean water. Abby knew where she was. She was at the seaport. She felt the same breeze that she had felt three years ago when she first stepped of the ship. This time, however, it was not so pleasant. Strands of hair blew wildly around her face as her heart beat quickened. Abby’s heart seemed to be beating a millions time a minute. She couldn’t breathe. The men walked her onto a platform. Some of the men scattered off, and one of the men stayed with Abby. Someone called the man, distracting him monetarily. Seizing her opportunity, she kicked him as hard as she could and ran as fast as her num feet would allow. The blindfold slid down around her neck, but her wrists were still loosely bound.

Abby scanned the seaport, trying to decide what she should do and where she could go. Then, she heard low, familiar shouting in deep heavily accented voices.  She knew she had to escape-and fast. What am I going to do? Where should I go? Abby’s thoughts were running through her head in a wild jumble when suddenly, she saw it. She wasn’t quite sure what “it” was, but she DID know that the men were getting closer. They would find her again soon, she was sure of it. She quickly ran into the large metal container.  She struggled to crawl towards the back of the container, past its contents.  As she heard the heavy sound of feet passing and a large group of familiar men’s voices, Abby did not dare breathe. The sounds faded as they became farther away. Just as Abby let out a sigh of relief, she heard a startling “SLAM!” Abby had just begun to think she was safe, but now, the heavy metal opening of the container was locked shut. Yet again, she was left all alone in the darkness. Abby immediately started to panic. She had no idea where she was and where she would be going. Abby closed her eyes for a moment and tried to breathe, which was quite difficult in the stuffy and cramped container. She suddenly detected a very odd aroma. Hm…perhaps….could it be? Mangos….Mangos! The container was filled with boxes of mangos! It was then that she realized where she was; a cargo ship. Abby got excited, as this offered the slightest glimpse of hope for her. However, Abby had not the slightest clue where she was headed.

Fast forward about two and a half days into the journey. Abby was sitting in the corner of the cargo container.  She was so hungry and tired. These two and a half days were just the icing on the cake. Abby thought she would go crazy. She thought that she would just die there, her corpse rotting forever in the back corner of the dark, cramped, stuffy, lonely cargo container. She thought of how her dead body’s only companion would be the seemingly endless stack of boxes filled with mangos.  She wondered if the journey would ever end, and if anyone would ever find her.

All of a sudden, a large thump followed by dramatic halt interrupted Abby’s thoughts. Abby waited about half an hour before she heard the loud click of the large metal door being unlocked. A small group of Custom inspectors appeared at the entrance. The bright sunlight stung Abby’s tired eyes, and she slumped lower behind the boxes. One of the inspectors, a petite female with dark brown hair tied in a bun, crawled among the boxes. She shined her flash light on different patches, searching for any stowaways or illegal objects being brought in. That’s when she saw a young girl with washed out strawberry blonde hair tied into a messy ponytail and dreadfully pale skin hiding in the back corner of the container.

“Oh my god!” The women gasped as she called for her crew. Abby had finally been found. No more running, no more hiding in fear. She would be safe. The workers brought Abby outside. A young woman with dirty blonde hair and hazel eyes who introduced herself as Claire drove Abby to a building. The first thing Abby did was look in the mirror. She looked so different. She looked so damaged. Her hair was all messy, her pale skin covered in cuts, bruises, scathes and burns. She looked hurt, no longer pure and childlike. Abby was later able to shower, given food and water, and new clothes. She was asked many questions. It was so much to take in, but Abby was so happy. Abby was officially identified as Abigail Westlin. Her parents were notified that their daughter had finally been found. After three seemingly eternal weeks, Abby would finally be going back home. Even though Abby was gone, the world had kept moving. Abby felt so weird, as if she was watching everything from a bubble. She couldn’t believe that she would be able to get her life back. Even though she could move on, she would never be able to forget what had been done in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Three weeks of her life had been taken away from her, along with her innocence. However, Abby was determined to live her life. She knew she deserved it. It would be hard, but she knew she could do it. Her virgin eyes had seen the worse of the world, yet she was choosing to see the best of everything.

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