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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: First (as in original) (01/10/05)

TITLE: Forgiveness
By Angie Schulte
01/10/05


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Her hand hesitated before lifting up the looped latch on the wire gate. The metal was cold against her fingers due in part to the coolness of the late October afternoon. She couldn’t do it. She let the latch go and started to turn back to the gray SUV parked on the gravel turnoff behind her. Suddenly, unbidden, Daniel’s angry words stomped across her mind. The memory forced her trembling fingers to lift the latch. Stalling against the inevitable, she stopped just inside the old Indian Cemetery to zip up her leather jacket, only to unzip it again. Once again, the thought of Daniel forced her forward. She walked slowly through the small, country cemetery. Her mind didn’t register the crunch of the brown and orange leaves that had fallen from huge oak trees. She had only been here once, but she remembered exactly where it was. It was at the far end of the cemetery, tucked away in a corner beneath an old oak. Eight years ago, she had buried shame, anger, pain and an entire entourage of hurtful memories in a bronze casket. She had dutifully stood with the other mourners and thrown down a white carnation into the site of the grave. She had remained steadfastly silent even as things began to claw and scratch inside the sealed coffin. Her only plea that day had been. “Lord, let them bury it deep.” Eight years later, she realized they had gotten out that day, and she had taken them home.

Too soon, she was there. Wisps of things not quite within reach overwhelmed her. The chiseled stone before her read. “JOHNTHAN DAVID JOHNSON”, loving husband, father and grandfather, born 1919, died 1984. Emotions launched themselves against her senses with a maniacal vengeance. It was hard to breathe. She fell to her knees among crunching leaves.

The sad, seven-year-old, little girl still haunted the thirty-one year old woman that she had become. The small whispering voice still pleaded in her dreams at night. “Grandpa, don’t . . . Please… it hurts.” No amount of pleading had ever deterred the large, rough hands that taken their painful route.

It is strange that sometimes silence speaks louder that any words ever could, and, yet, no one ever hears. Perhaps, it was easier to ignore the confused pain in a little girl’s eyes, than accept the truth. Once it was finally discovered three years later, it simply became the family secret. It was never discussed again. It was easier. It made it all go away. For everyone that is, except a ten-year-old child who didn’t know what she had done wrong? No one ever explained. No one ever said anything.
Daniel’s words rushed into her mind. “Megan, I love you. But, I can’t stand this anymore. Yeah, a bad thing happened when you were a kid. But we all have our moments of hurt. Life isn’t about what shouldn’t have happened. It is about what happened and what you do with it. You either go on or you don’t.”

Shaking her head, she cleared the memory away. Daniel had made his stand two weeks earlier, and then he’d left her to deal with the past. “How do I do that Grandpa?” Her voice echoed throughout the empty cemetery. “You know I don’t get it? What you did to me cost you nothing, but it has cost me almost everything. I paid the price, and yet, I am the one kneeling here in the dirt trying to tell you that I forgive you because it is the only way that I can go on with my life. It doesn’t make sense. You cheated me out of my childhood. You have cheated me out of a good sexual relationship with Daniel because sometimes it was your hands that I felt, not his. You know, I guess what Daniel has been trying to tell me is that I let you.”

Standing up, she brushed the dirt and leaves off the knees of her blue jeans and in her heart, she heard a voice she’d long discounted whisper, “Forgiveness isn’t forgetting. It’s accepting the truth for what it is and moving on.” For the first time, she understood her pain hadn’t been because of what he’d done, it had been that no one came. Unbidden the Footprints poem crossed her mind, and she knew He had always been there.


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This article has been read 798 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie OConnor01/17/05
Very well done. I think the story is very descriptive and powerful. A hard one to read, but good work. Forgiveness is the only road to freedom.
Catherine Pollock01/17/05
I agree - it can be so hard to forgive people for even just the littlest things (like accidently spilling something on the brand new white carpet...).

Thank you for writing it. I enjoyed reading it very much.
Debbie OConnor01/17/05
Just to clarify my previous comment, I meant "a hard one to read" in the sense that this is painful subject matter. I think the writing here is very well done.
Mitzi Busby01/17/05
This is very well written. It deals with a tough subject, but it is so true.
Teresa Lee Rainey01/18/05
You did a good job dealing with a very difficult subject. I enjoyed your descriptive voice.
Kathy Cartee01/18/05
Very well written.
A hard subject and a reminder of the awful pain that a child does not know how to deal with.
John Lindsay01/21/05
I agree, this is a courageous piece of writing. You demand that the reader walk this rough road with you. Once started it was not easy to stop reading because I wanted to discover how it ended. I sense it is a story without an end - yet.
L.M. Lee01/21/05
sometimes the greatest leap of faith ... is away from our past.
Deborah Anderson01/22/05
Great word imagery. Tears filled my eyes as I read. You took a horrid subject and brought it to the light. God bless you.