Her eyes dart away, and her legs shake. She walks past him, slouched on the sofa. She looks away again, doesn’t look in his eyes.
He grabs her wrist, and looks up. “Please, Shelley, I didn’t mean it. I’m so, so sorry. Forgive me, please.”
His voice tails off, his head bows. “Please.” A whisper.
She doesn’t look at him. She can’t. If he sees the tears in her eyes, if he cries too, she won’t be able to do what she needs to do. And she would never forgive herself for that.
Her bag is on the carpet, just a few steps away, right by the door.
Forgive me. Forgive me.
She has heard those words before. She has heard those words so many times before.
She thought she had forgiven him. She thought saying, “It’s okay,” was forgiveness. Saying, “I love you.”
She thought staying was forgiveness. She thought what they had was love. A hurting, piercing love, a familiar love.
The beer bottle sits on the coffee table, broken. Beer drips onto the carpet.
I am sorry
Love doesn’t make excuses. Love doesn’t hurt. Love knows.
So does she.
“I’ve tried, Shelley. I’ve tried so hard.”
“I know you have.” She stands by the sofa arm, still not looking at him; looking at the beer bottle, the window, the carpet, the ceiling. “I know you didn’t mean to. I know. That’s the trouble. You never mean to.”
“I’ll try harder.” He buries his head in his hands. “I don’t know why – I don’t know what came over me. What comes over me. It’s the last thing I want to do.”
She sees him, sitting on the sofa, and she remembers. She remembers his memories, squeezed out with a cuddle, poured out with the beer.
She sees him, a small boy watching his parents scream, watching his father beat his mother. She sees him, a small boy running away, hiding under the bed.
She feels his guilt, his small boy guilt, as he falls asleep among the dust to the sound of his mother’s screams.
I am a big boy. I should know better. She needs me, needs her boy to help her. I am a coward, a big girl’s blouse.
But still he dare not move.
She sees him, and she feels his hurt; she hears his pain. She sees him at the kitchen table, eating cornflakes for dinner while his parents laugh and drink cider in the other room. She feels the lump in his throat that makes it hard to swallow, the mist in his eyes that makes it hard to see, the thudding of his heart that makes it hard to hear.
And she knows. She knows that for the boy he used to be, for the boy who is still inside him, she must pick up the bag, and walk through the door.
“I’m sorry too,” she says. “I didn’t mean to either. We never do.”
“I forgive you,” she whispers, and closes the door behind her. “I forgive me too.”
This post is for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion’s January link-up, which this month focuses on FORGIVENESS. To read more posts, or to add your own, click on the blue button below.
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. If you would to be part of a movement for loving change, join our Facebook Group, like our Facebook Page, or look for our posts on Twitter with the hashtag #1000Speak.
Write a post about FORGIVENESS or any aspect of compassion and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.