by: Sean Adams
A story which illustrates that forgiveness is only possible when we are honest with ourselves…
“The light is so bright”
“You will adjust my child.”
“I have to go back.”
“There is no going back now.”
“I can’t be here, I’m not ready.”
“No one is ever ready. Acceptance will come once you let go.”
“I have to go back.”
“Let go of that notion my child. There is nothing back there for you now.”
“Can’t I just wake up, please!”
“You must be asleep to wake up.”
“Wake me up! This is just a bad dream!”
“I’m sorry my child, this is no dream.”
“Stop calling me your child! The light is burning my eyes!”
“The pain will become an ache that resides in the background soon enough.”
“Is this Heaven?”
“What do you think?”
“I’m not sure, I can’t see anything. It’s too damn bright.”
“Where do you think you should be?”
“I…I don’t know. I believed I was a good person. At least near the end.”
“There is no end, for existence is circular. What has come to an end can begin again.”
“Can or will?”
“Please tell me what I must do!”
“What you must do to accomplish what?”
“What I must do to get another chance.”
“Answer the question fully and truthfully. Do you deserve to go to Heaven?”
“No. But I suspect you know that already, don’t you?”
“We know what we need to know and what we must know, but knowledge as you have been taught is not the ultimate truth. Knowledge is flexible, it changes with perspective. Now tell me your sins.”
“Is this my final judgment?”
“It may very well be. The plight of the judged is to alter their truth. So as of now consider yourself not judged, but merely recounting things as the way they were. The way you know we already know them to be.”
“Ok. I will tell you.”
The night was cold and the sky swollen, threatening rain or snow, depending upon how far the temperature dropped. Few people ventured out in such weather and so I walked under the street lamps alone, lost in thought.
I’ve never been comfortable with being alone. The shadows that evening created monstrous apparitions that I could glimpse out of the corner of my eye, but disappeared as soon as I turned to look. I walked briskly under my umbrella, trying to hide my face from the shapeless specters like a child hiding beneath the blankets.
When I reached my front door I was surprised to see it was slightly ajar. Priscilla was usually so OCD about the doors being locked tight and she had terrible nightmares about someone breaking in and hurting her. She even went so far as to check every door and window before going to bed.
I pushed open the door slowly, trying to avoid making any noise. There were no lights on in the house. I thought for a moment that she had gone to bed but my watch said it was only 7:45pm and Priscilla was a night owl. In the seven years we had been married I had never seen her go to bed before midnight.
Locking the door behind me and pushing my shoes off my feet I started up the stairs. My heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. I could hear someone upstairs and considered turning away before the thought came to me that it might be Priscilla in need of help.
I felt along my belt, past my detectives badge, and to my holstered gun. I held the pistol in front of me just as I had been trained to do. I kept my feet side by side and used the wall to guide me down the hallway towards the noise. In all my training nothing had prepared me for an event like this happening in my home, nonetheless to someone I loved.
In the academy we are taught how our bodies will react to stress. When a person becomes stressed and afraid, all of the blood in their body rushes to the major organs, most of which are found in the abdomen. As blood leaves the extremities, they can become numb and hard to control. It’s why in horror movies people fall for no reason or can’t get their keys in a door. We all know subconsciously how that feels because we have all been afraid at one time or another. Well, most of us.
I could feel my fingers going numb and my vision blurred, narrowed into a tunnel. The sounds were coming from the guest room. I could barely make them out but someone was definitely in there. I grabbed the doorknob with my sweaty left hand while steadying my gun in front of me.
I took a deep breath, and then threw open the door. Nothing could have prepared me for what was on the other side of the door. Two bodies jumped quickly under the covers, the larger of the two trying to cover themselves with the blankets while the smaller one shrieked “FRANK!”.
I threw the light on to see my wife – naked, sweaty and out of breath – lying next to a coward failing to hide himself beneath the blankets. The world turned red and I began to shake. I tore the blankets from the bed, leaving the two of them exposed and naked to the world.
“Now Frank, just calm down.” A familiar voice almost shocked me out of the trance I found myself in.
“Frank is calm.” I heard myself say as if I was as if I was watching what was unfolding from a distance. Chad had been my partner for over a year. We had grown close and had celebrated Thanksgiving together only a couple of months earlier. He was also married and I couldn’t help but wonder what Janet was doing while her husband was there in my guest room screwing mine.
I pointed my gun right at Chad’s head and knew immediately what I intended to do. I was no longer in control. I screamed “No” as I felt my finger pull the trigger and the gun recoil, its vibrations surging up my arm. I unloaded two more shots into him for good measure.
By that time Priscilla was up on her knees, still in the bed, and grabbing at my arm. I rammed the butt of the gun into the center of her forehead and she fell backwards as if made of rags. I pointed the gun at her crumpled form and pulled the trigger three more times.
I stood there in the silence looking over what I had done and a sudden need to retch overtook me. Blood and bone had splattered across the sheets and the room reeked powerfully of ozone and gunpowder. The adrenaline rush I had felt was leaving my body fast, being replaced by a fear that gripped me in its powerful embrace.
What had I done?
My co-workers didn’t take long to arrive at my house in a roar of sirens and flashing lights. Being the compliant citizen that I am, I offered no resistance. I never denied what I had done when the time came to state my case. The public defender and the prosecutors had an easy job, especially when I refused to claim an insanity defense.
I was sentenced to death. I was left waiting, rotting, for seventeen years for my date with destiny. I became a born again Christian, received a degree in Theological studies, and prayed with my fellow inmates on death row.
A couple of years ago Janet came to see me. She told me that Chad had cheated on her many times and that she had warned him every time she caught him that it would catch up to him one day. Tears ran down her cheeks as she told me that she forgave me for what I had done and that she knew what it felt like to be in that situation. I held her hand and thanked her and then we prayed that God would give us both the strength to let the past remain where it belongs and that all of our sins would be forgiven. There was no judgment in her eyes when she left. She hugged me tightly and it felt good to have that contact again.
“Do you feel at peace with what you have done?”
“I guess I do now.”
“You may open your eyes.”
“Oh my dear Lord, I repent. I repent!”
“We all create our own Heaven and our own Hell. If you had been truthful about your feeling of peace with your sins I could have helped you. Since you lied, you will stay here, watching your transgressions play out over and over for all eternity.”
“Please no, please don’t do this.”
“We have not done this. You have done this. We all choose our own destiny.”
“No! No! Don’t shoot!”
“You are his subconscious and you tried to stop yourself, but you chose to pull the trigger as you always have and as you always will.”
“Oh my God, please. Oh my God, no.”
“Goodbye now my child. I hear your cries but the giving of mercy is in your hands alone.”