Forgiveness, reluctantly given.
I really liked this prompt, but unfortunately I was still busy getting settled into my new apartment (and cleaning my old one before the lease expired) that I probably didn’t give the piece the time it deserved.
This piece ended up becoming a sort of sequel to the first story (and probably most popular) I ever wrote for the Indie Ink Challenge, called Stars are Cool.
(The response to my challenge should be up sometime soon here.)
I am a murderer.
Everyone tells me that that is not true. That it was an accident. That I didn’t mean to do it. And I didn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have killed a person. A human being. For God’s sake, I killed a child.
It’s true that it was an accident. I was driving in my car, and someone started calling me. I reached for my phone, looked down for just half a second. It was too late for me to stop by the time I noticed him running into the street. I should have seen the soccer ball roll in front of me, knew that he was going to run after it. He was just a kid after all. No more than five or six years old.
I went to the funeral. It just felt like it was something I needed to do. I needed to walk through that fire. I needed everyone there to see me, to know it was my fault and to hate me for it. I deserve to be hated.
The funeral was short. My feeling is that the parents wanted to keep it that way. They didn’t want to keep the pain going on any longer. It was a closed casket as well, thanks to me.
They put up pictures of the boy. And trinkets. I remember seeing the father walk in with a pair of bronzed shoes. The casket, it was covered with stars.
I made the decision to stay in the back of the church. Though I wanted everyone to know I was there, I didn’t have it in me to sit there, front and center for all to see. I was physically unable to talk to anyone there. My guess is that they didn’t want to anyways.
Actually that’s not entirely true. There was one person who came up to talk to me. The boy’s father.
He pulled me aside after the burial, as everyone began to leave. It is difficult to describe the way that he had carried himself at the funeral and when he spoke to me. The best I can do is say that it looked like, it looked like life was just a little too heavy for him. Like life wanted to squash his face in the mud and he was trying to stay standing.
The father told me that at first he wanted to be mad at me. That he wanted to hate me. But he couldn’t. He said that he had to actively try hating me but it never happened. He said to me that he knew that no one could possibly be more upset with me than me. There was no point for him to be mad, he said.
He said that there were no hard feelings and that he forgave me. Then he walked away.
But as he walked away he looked back and said, “The real hardship is going to be learning to forgive yourself. But don’t give up.”