The Reign of Guilt
Jeremy stood on the edge of the cliff, looking out over the blackness below. Jagged rocks peeked through the crashing waves. Thunder escaladed as the dark night sky lit with bursts of lightning. He felt the clouds pelting the dust beneath his feet, and turned his crimson-stained face upwards, allowing the raindrops to wash away all signs of the night’s transgressions…
Danielle leaned over the kitchen sink brooding as she washed the dinner dishes. Gloomy nights such as this were typically enjoyable to her, as she loved the excitement that came with a good storm. Tonight however, she found no joy.
Her son Josh sat on the sofa watching “Shrek”. She usually tuned it out, but tonight a line had struck her: “Ogres are like onions… because we have layers.”
Frank, her stepfather, was often an ogre, but she could care less about his layers. He abused her mom, Sandra, from the start of their ill-fated relationship. She was thankful her mother was safe with her tonight.
Heavy footfalls on her porch caused Danielle to prickle with fear. Seconds later, Frank was standing in her home.
“Where is she, where’s Sandra?” A vile spray of alcohol scented spittle flew from his mouth as he spoke. Josh hid under the coffee table at the sight of his grandfather’s gun.
“Frank, you’re not welcome here.”
“Ah, Sugar, Daddy loves you too. Now where is she!” He threw a lamp, missing Danielle by inches. Josh crouched down deeper, tears flowing down his face. Sandra rushed to the living room.
“Get out of here!” This was the first time his wife had taken a stand against him and it infuriated him more. Frank lunged forward, grabbing her by the hair. Danielle tried to protect her mother, only to receive the back of his hand.
Jeremy pulled up to his home and was instantly concerned at the sight of his father in law’s car parked across his lawn. Without shielding himself from the rain, he ran to the front door.
“Back off Frank!” Jeremy’s words couldn’t penetrate the fog of alcohol clouding Frank’s mind, as he continued his attempts to drag his wife home. Jeremy swung as hard as he could, forcing him to release Sandra from his grasp; she ran to Danielle.
Frank nearly fell over from the blow. When he recovered his senses, he saw the forgotten weapon he held. Pointing it with a swaying arm outstretched, he issued the ultimatum: “Come home now.”
Desperate to protect his family, but also full of outrage, Jeremy tackled Frank. They began wrestling for control of the gun; the single shot pierced the souls of everyone in the room…
“God forgive me!” Jeremy howled into the storm, his voice thundering. “I know I was wrong.” Lightning cast an eerie glow around him, distorting his vision.
Between claps of thunder, he heard a familiar song coming from his pocket. The ring tone told him it was Danielle. He contemplated what he would say if he answered this time. Deciding that she deserved a good bye, he pushed the talk button.
“Jeremy! Where are you?”
“Honey, I’m so sorry… I can’t live with what I’ve done…Tell Joshy I loved him.”
“What? Where are you? Come home, the police were here. They know it was self-defense. Please, you’ve been gone for hours. Come home.”
The connection crackled with static causing her voice to fade in and out. Jeremy’s heart was torn between the guilt he felt for killing his father in law and the love he felt for his wife and son.
“I can’t. What I did was wrong. It wasn’t just an accident. In that moment, seeing his gun pointed at you and your mom, I wanted Frank dead… I deserve to die too.’
“Jeremy, no! You know our bodies belong to God. It’d be just as wrong for you to kill yourself. Please, he wouldn’t want you to do this. Jesus’ blood is enough; he already died in your place.”
The line was silent.
“I need time to think Danielle.”
Jeremy stood on the edge of the cliff, looking out over the blackness below. Jagged rocks peeked through the crashing waves. Thunder escaladed as the dark night sky lit with bursts of lightning. He felt the clouds pelting the dust beneath his feet, and turned his crimson-stained face upwards, allowing God’s love to wash away all of his transgressions…
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