Forgiveness (3)

By MeL Scribe, Australia

Short Story: Forgiveness
“Please, let me go,” he pleaded. I looked down at him in his miserable state.
“I don’t belong in that gang, I don’t belong in any gang anymore. Please,” he continued.
“But it doesn’t change what happened, does it? You were the one who killed my girlfriend!” I screamed at him, giving vent to my hatred. “You have no idea how much I love her.”

Suddenly his face hardened. “It doesn’t change the fact that your girlfriend was the one who killed my brother,” he spat, dignified.
“That was an accident. She would never kill anyone!”
“Accident or no accident, my brother is dead!”
“A life for a life,” I agreed bitterly. “My girlfriend for your brother. Now we are even.”
“ ‘The past can hurt, but you can either run from it, or learn from it,’ someone said to me once,” he repeated, as though quoting a person he highly respects.
“So you have been running from your past, while I have been running to find you,” I growled.

Why wouldn’t my arm move to slice his throat? My other hand was wrapped around his neck; his back pushed against the wall. His feet were still on the ground, but he was entirely at my mercy.

“And now that you have found me, you are afraid,” he mocked.
“You forget who holds the knife,” I muttered. “And whose life is at stake, you fool?”
“I’m sick of pleading for forgiveness.”
“How quickly we sink back into our old ways!” I paused, my mind suddenly remembering something my girlfriend had said to me:

“I know you have your friends in this gang, but it’s not good for you.
It’s your decision in the end, and I’ll love you whatever you choose.
However, I think it best if you leave them. These are my best interests for you,”
she had said quietly.

She had made it sound so simple. How would she have any idea what it would mean if I gave up the gang? She couldn’t understand that if I leave them, I would have nowhere to go, nothing to do, no way to survive.

She and all her Christian values. She had come from the ideal background–a loving family, good education, hope for a future, money to spend, never a worry about where her next meal came from. She had everything, including a perfection I could never achieve.

“I only hope that if you choose to leave the gang, you won’t fall back into your old ways,
whatever the future may bring,” she whispered, as though assured of something I didn’t know.
“You’re worth more than this, I know it. You’re worth more than a cycle of revenge and hatred.”

It was her angelic face that flashed in my mind now, soft and meek. How could I bear it if her death was never avenged? But then, what would she think if I kill for her sake? I shook my head in confusion, my thoughts a blur.

I straightened my arm above my victim, my grip on the knife tightening. I swung the blade in a crescent and dropped it on the pavement.

His face was astonished, his body unmarked.

“This is no accident,” I declared. “But it’s what she would have wanted. She would have wanted me to forgive you. Now turn from your evil ways,” I heard my voice saying, but the words I spoke were not my own thoughts.

I picked up my knife then released him. Slowly I turned away from him, but he called my name before I took another step. “You spared my life. I shall spare yours, friend.” He held out his hand, and I shook it. “I know a place that you can board and work. Want to come?”

“Where? With the Salvation Army?” I asked, sarcastically.

“It’s not so bad,” he said to me.

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