The wind raced in the windows and tossed my hair in every direction as the car hurdled down the road far exceeding the speed limit. The white hot anger pulsated through my veins at each moment re-lived. The fight had caused words to be hurled like weapons and my wife’s dishes to follow them. Never in all 10 years had we had a fight like this one. Now as I drove in blind rage I barely heard the siren growing louder. Slowly coming to the realization that the sirens were meant for me, my heart sank in my chest. Pulling over to the side of the road I rehearsed all the excuses I could think of but none of them seemed to do justice and I knew there was nothing I could really do but hand over the reins to fate, and hope for the best.
“License and registration please”
Silently I pushed the paperwork into his hands, cringing slightly as I imagined the worst.
“Come with me please”
I looked up at him perplexed, shading the sun out of my eyes to see his face. He was serious, so I unbuckled my seatbelt and climbed out of the vehicle. He led me to a quiet place just off of the highway and looked at me intently. “Do you have any reason for breaking the law Mr. Cunningham; is there any good reason for what you have done?”
Taken by surprise at his intensity, I stood there dumb and my mind went blank. I had nothing; none of the excuses I had thought up earlier came to mind and I lowered my head in shame.
“In that case, there’s nothing I can do; the law stipulates that you pay a fine of $20,000.”
Suddenly panic gripped my chest and choked off my breath. “I can’t, sir I can’t pay that! I have a wife and children; we don’t have that kind of money! Please!”
“I’m sorry; the best I can do is to take you to see the judge so you can plead your case.”
He drove me to the courthouse and I sat in the back seat resigned to the fact that I would be charged with a $20,000 fine. What would I tell my wife? Where would we get that kind of money?
As we drove up to the large building, anxiety tied my stomach in knots and the nausea came in violent waves. I wanted to run, but I knew it was no use. I walked into the courtroom like I was marching to my death. The large seat in front of me was like a king’s throne set high above everything else and I felt as small as an ant. The room was dark and I could barely see the outline of a man perched atop the throne, but I could feel his gaze bore deep into me as though he could see right through to my very soul. I knew he was waiting for me to say something.
“Please sir” I began in a cracking voice “I know that what I did was wrong. There is no excuse, and I deserve to have whatever punishment you see fit to give me as penance for my crime. All I can ask is that you please forgive me … have mercy on me. I have nothing I can offer that would make you want to forgive me, but I am hoping that you will still find it in your heart to have mercy on me anyway.”
When I was done, I stared at the ground expecting him to throw the book at me; I waited for the judgment with a heavy weight sitting in my chest. A long time seemed to go by, and I slowly lifted my head. The throne was lit by a bright shining light which filtered in through a window and the man on the throne smiled broadly.
“Mr. Cunningham, you are forgiven all of your debt.”
My heart leapt for joy, and I nearly fell over. “All of it?” I breathed. I couldn’t believe it, there was no logical reason, and yet it was true. That night I told my wife what happened.
“The gift of a second chance, it’s a true gift, one that fills you with life and the hope of a bright future. I love you so much," she said hugging me.
Two gifts were given to me that day; hope and love wrapped up in second chances.
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