Forgiving the Unfogivable

"That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt." – John Green

This quote serves as inspiration of this short story. I am posting it for the sake of The Fault in Our Stars: Writing Contest. The emotional pain that the main character has ignored so long is demanding to be felt. There is no escape. She must deal with the pain.

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1. My First and Final

Smoke; it fills my lungs and vision. I obtain the cough of a ninety-something smoker. Everywhere I turn, I see a burning blaze of light; a hungry fire that has not been fed in days. Both my dizziness and desperation grow simultaneously at an alarming rate. I plummet to the ground, unsure why or how I find myself in this predicament. I am weak. I am helpless. Practically blind, the only thing I can think to do is reach out in front of me. After a few dreadful moments of nothing, my hands finally come in contact with what I pray is a door. I frantically feel upward in hopes of finding its handle. My world is turning black as my hand miraculously finds the door’s knob, and I wrap my shaking fingers around it. I push the door open with what little strength I have left in me, and fall into the room. I am unconscious before I hit the floor.

 

I awaken to a painful headache. I look around and take note of the formal atmosphere, out of place in our easy-going house. Two computers sit at the desk with sticky notes attached to them. A large bookshelf lines the wall, filled with authors, who are far too advanced and old for me to have heard of. Papers are everywhere, in the trash can, on the desk, on the chair collecting dust in the corner. My migraine deepens as I realize this is his room. Of all the places to end up in, fate chose here. The fire is a preferable environment to this setting.

I rise only to have dizziness knock me down again. I get up, slowly and with more caution this time, and then take in my surroundings. There are pictures of my mom and me on the wall, along with him. I inhale. A slight scent of men’s cologne fills my nostrils, and it amazes me that his aroma is still present. Two years, this room has gone untouched, unvisited. My mother refuses to come in here, and so do I. He might have left, but his office remained. I do not know which I am more eager to escape, this room or the fire.

I make my way to the window and try opening it. It refuses to budge, even when I check the locks. Frustrated, I cut across the room to the door and try opening it. This not only fails to open, but the doorknob burns me in the process. The burn of the handle reminds me that I am the prey to a fire, and if I do not escape this room fast I will be its next victim. Panic rises and I grab hold of his stapler. With a heavy heave, I hurl it at the window. The laws of physic fail me, for the windows glass remains perfectly intact, lacking so much as a scratch.

Of all the places in the world, of every room in this house, I had to be trapped here. Why? What have I done to deserve this? Am I to die here, along with this room’s ugly secrets? I prefer hell to this chamber.

Tears begin to flood my vision. He has been the source of so many cries; it is only fitting that his office provides me a few more. I choke on my pitiful sobs as my sight is set on a picture. A picture that had been tucked away in secrecy before, but now basks in the light along with the rest of his lies.

A happy couple; that is all an innocent eye would see. But the truth is anything but innocent. The truth is cruel and punishing. The truth is harsh. The truth is that the man in the picture is a stranger to me; a stranger to which I have the displeasure of being an offspring to. The truth is that the man’s arm is wrapped around a girl’s waste. The truth is she is in a skirt two sizes too small, and with a man one generation too old. The truth is his hand rests on her bony hip, lacking the ring that linked him to his wife, his family, and me. The truth is unforgiving, and so am I.

The sorrow I was dwelling in earlier is being slowly transformed into something stronger; something angry. A two-year long grudge surfaces, and my muscles tense. Sweat drips from my red, burning flesh. I lunge at the picture. I rip it in two, right down the middle, separating the happy couple.

The destruction is empowering. It fuels me, fuels my anger. I need more. I grab one of his computers and hurl it at the ground. The sound of the screen shattering against the floor offers only a moment of satisfaction, and I look for more. I have grown greedy. I am not myself. I am not anything. I am not real. I am a playing piece in some mixed up game, and I have been toyed with far too long. My life has been messed up at the expense of a cruel gamesman, but I will take it no longer.

I turn to the book shelf, and rip the pages from a random novel. The crumpled up papers are not nearly enough. I sling my arm across the shelves, bringing every book it once held to the ground. Still, this is not enough. The empty bookshelf mocks me. Somewhere the evil gamesman is saying, “I win again.” He gloats and laughs, controlling me and my sorry excuse for a life like always. “Nothing left to throw,” he boasts. Well, I will lose to him no longer.

I lunge at the shelf, but it only shakes. Ignoring the bruise my last lunge resulted in, I try again. Once again, I am left with the same sturdy bookshelf, unmoved from its position. Laughter: I hear laughter. The gamesman laughs at my failure. His cruel gloats are everywhere. I cover my ears, but am offered no relief. He cannot be silenced.

I put my hands on top of the shelf. With a wail that could make ghosts shiver, I fall to the ground, bringing the bookshelf with me. I hit the floor. The first pain I endeavor is the harshest I have ever experienced, but that is matched not a millisecond later when the shelf lands on top of me.

The pain is overwhelming. I listen for the gamesman; listen for his cries of defeat, but am left with silence. What have I become? I am surely mad. This is his doing. He has taken so much; my perfect family, my happiness, my faith in love. Now he robs me of my sanity. I realize I am crying again, but then question if I ever stopped.

I roll my head over, it being the only body part capable of movement. I now face the door, and at this low level can see under its crack. I see blazing reds and oranges. The fire; how is it being shielded from this room? Surely this door should be nothing but ash by now, allowing the fire to take me and my pathetic life with it.

I am puzzled and exhausted. The questions and perplexities bombard my mind, and I want nothing more than to stop the pain this bookshelf bestows upon me. I realize how pathetic I must look, a hundred twenty pound girl crushed by a three hundred pound shelf. Once again, I curse him. This is his bookshelf. I hate him and his bookshelf. I hate everything that has to do with him. He is a lying, sneak. I hate him!

My hateful thoughts are interrupted when my attention is brought to a book I had earlier thrown to the ground. Unlike the novels that surround it, this book is a journal. It is opened to the first page, revealing a single word on a single line: apology.

Suddenly a miraculous thing happens; an unfathomable, unexplainable thing that matches the rest of this peculiar day oh so well. The heavy weight of the bookshelf is lifted, and in its place is the lightness of a measly pillow. I lift the bookshelf up in one quick motion, and am baffled by the lack of effort it required.

My mind can tolerate no more mysteries, so it simply discards this strange moment along with the rest of today’s supernatural events. Instead, I simply get up and make my way over to the journal.

As I hold the leather bound book in my trembling hands, I instantly recognize the chicken scratched used to write it. It is the same messy penmanship that had written me birthday cards, cute little notes in my lunch box, and more recently, apology letters. It is his handwriting. I turn the page to find an entry with the date of January 23rd, 2010. My heart skips a beat as I realize that this was written but a week before; before we knew. Only a week before the truth was let out. Only a week before my family broke.

I weigh my options; to read or not to read. He is undeserving of my time. I should just close this book right now, and forget I ever came across its cream, crisp pages. I should, but I cannot. I was left in the dark for so long, and this may be my only chance to shed light on this situation. My temptations persuade me. I inhale deeply, brace myself for what is to come, and begin reading:

I am a sorry excuse for a husband. I am a sorry excuse for a father. I am a sorry excuse for a man. I have done my family wrong in so many ways. Although I ended things with Kara, and even though our relationship was brief, it does not erase what I have done. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror. It’s too shameful. I am despicable. I keep this picture here as penance. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of my stupidity, and all that I gave up. I can’t live like this any longer. The secrets are eating away at me. They deserve to know. They must know. I must tell them. Dear God, I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

I single tear escapes my eye and lands on his pleading words. I carefully turn the page with my shaking fingers, but find the following sheets to be blank. Out of the whole journal, there is only one entry. He never wrote in it again; never got the chance.

All of a sudden, I hear noises. I turn to face the window, and see the red, obnoxious lights of a fire truck. An ambulance is also there. My lawn is covered with my fellow neighbors, wearing masks of concern and sorrow over their usual giddy smiles. In the sea of morbid faces, I spot my mother standing in her fuzzy, pink bath robe, seemingly overwhelmed with shock. She is worried, devastatingly so, and it pains me to see her in such a sorry state.

I then catch sight of him. He is usually not welcome and out of place within our neighborhood, but he does not seem to care. He runs with the determination of a fatigued lion after his prey. In an Eagles t-shirt and flannelled pajama pants, he sprints through the icy, January air. He reaches my mother, and it is only then I see his tears. I see the tears of not a worried man, but a worried father; my worried father.

All at once, a two year grudge is eased. The hate that flowed through my veins at the mention of my father is gone. I feel light. It is as if the anger I had been dwelling in were chains, and I am finally being released. I am free to fly anywhere, even to the heaves if that is where I please! This is not to say all my anger has been subdued. I still regret the doings of my father. His actions will remain misunderstood and I wish they had never been committed. However, I am put at ease knowing he is sorry. His apology was true, for this I am sure of. And with that, all is not forgotten, but it is forgiven. I forgive you father.

*                                  *                                  *

“It says here the fire started in the office. This is where we found your daughter. By the time we reached her, she did not have nearly enough oxygen, and had suffocated to death,” the police officer reports to the sorrowful mother.

She turns to her ex-husband and buries her head in his shoulder. The father comforts her; cries with her. They mourn their daughter in the cold, dark night.

“However, when we found her, she was holding this,” the officer takes a journal out from under his suit. He hands it to the parents.

The father takes it. He opens it up, and turns to the first page. Under the man’s old apology, something was written. On a single line, was a single word: forgiven.

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