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