Read Justice: Part 1 <<here
The overwhelming sense of freedom that she had felt in that moment, teetering on the precarious line between life and death, served to suddenly and unexpectedly scatter her thoughts, just as the strong gust of wind scattered the strands of her fine hair which now whirled about her and stuck to her face like a disordered cobweb. Memories that had lain locked in dark archives of her mind erupted to the fore; her personal grief, her family’s grief for her sake, and her fiancé’s family’s utter despair at a life so casually dispensed with; how even though each of these groups’ relationship to her beloved differed to her own, yet all had been united by several threads which had led to the centre of it all; him. His exit and subsequently their unborn child’s, had caused a break in the web which could never be mended to be the same way again, thus it had been left, to collect dust. Dust was the most accurate term she could think of to describe her relationship right now with the other threads of the web. Both their families had tried to reach out to her, but her anguish had been the self-absorbed kind that allowed for no other participants, merely observers whose own spirits drained at the constant efforts to regenerate, till they simply stopped trying anymore for fear of becoming overwhelmed also.
In that moment of freedom, as the cobwebs were forced out of their comfort zone, as dusty memories whirled about, with a stab of pain she experienced a few seconds selfless clarity. She realised that in dispensing with herself she would be condemning lives that had already suffered greatly, to the sentence that had hung so heavily over her, now pulling her down, down, down to this moment.
She wanted to stop. She wanted to stop. They didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserved to go through that when it could be helped. But it was too late. It was too late.
She opened her eyes to greet the grey undulating waters. Her reflection stared back at her. She was just a speck. An unmoving speck. Far above.
She was still sitting on the ledge.
She started to cry, but unlike the tormented wails of the past, these tears were silent and ushered into her soul an inexplicable serenity she had never felt. It was as though the chains that had anchored her down to her grief had been dissolved and she’d been released from the prison of bitterness. She dropped her arms and leaned back and as if in approval, the clouds parted and the sun shone in its brilliance again, melting away her tears with the gentleness of the touch of the fiancé she so dearly missed. There was no denying that there was still a part of her that yearned for justice for her fiancé, but unlike before, she knew that she would never let that bitter pursuit or disappointment at expectations not met so tyrannically control her emotional, physical and mental well-being. She was not there yet, but she was on the road to recovery.
With these thoughts in mind she climbed off the ledge of the bridge. She looked about her, and for the first time in 3 years, she allowed the vestiges of a long-forgotten smile to creep across her face. The sun beamed down in yet another glare of approval. She smelt the smells of summer. She saw the beauty of the sunlight refracting from windows and she felt grateful for life. She decided to do something she hadn’t done since the funeral; visit her fiance’s grave. She made her way to the shops to buy some of her favourite flowers…
A lot had changed in the years since that dreadful night. It was a night he wished he could forget, better still, wished had never happened. He had sought solace in many places – recreational drugs, alcohol, girls, almost anything. Yet still, the horrors of a spontaneous, uncalculated and fatal decision chased him in the midnight hours, the hours most people were dead to the world, sleeping in peaceful oblivion of the evil wrought in streets in the name of boredom. Even now that his life had finally started to turn around. He had stabbed a man. The man had died. He was a murderer. A cold-blooded murderer, because the moment in which he had felt that life ebb away, he had felt the most courage he had ever felt in his life. He had felt power and he had relished it, if even only for a moment. Before he had stabbed his victim his hand had shaken, but afterwards it was steady. It was steady as he slowly pulled the knife out at the same time reluctantly feeling that this newly acquired power was flowing out with the pull. His hand was steady as he ran away whilst simultaneously zipping up his hooded jacket to cover his t-shirt bloodied by a spurt from his victim’s torso. His hand was steady as he lied to his mother about his scratch marks and where he had been and handed her a cup of coffee he had made her to appease her argumentative mood.
His hand was steady, but his mind had been thrown into a violent turmoil. He woke up everyday as if he had just been electrocuted. Thoughts, memories, flashbacks piercing into his consciousness of their own volition, no respect for time or place. Ordinary life became hard for him to manage. He started to not be able to bear being around the friends that congratulated him for his guts that night, afraid to tell them the truth of his inward torture disguised by outward bravado. Yet he desperately needed something to hang onto, a piece of reality that could pull him out of the never-ceasing nightmares that indiscriminately ravaged him everyday; a piece of life that would help him draw the line between imagination and reality…and they were the closest thing to reality, family and comfort that he had. He knew he could never confide in his mother – her men had always and would always be more important to her than him. She only ever spoke to him to yell at him in a haze of drunkenness that he was a good for nothing just like his dad or to tell him to leave the flat so she could have some private time with this week’s boyfriend. Aside from the fact that revealing he was a murderer would probably kill her.
It got too much. Every heartbeat was a beating drum of regret. All he wanted was to block it out. He tried everything…weed, alcohol, sex, but still the spontaneous flashbacks that would sometimes render him motionless, sobbing and crying in pain and anguish; first in his bedroom, eventually amongst his friends, then in public. He became a pariah. His friends wanted nothing to do someone who couldn’t handle a simple stabbing, his mother didn’t care…there was nobody else.
He took to wandering the streets in a daze, sometimes stepping into a main road praying that someone would knock him down and kill him. He always chickened out long before a car got within a dangerous distance of him. Coward. My name is Coward, he thought to himself. He repeated this line so many times in his head it became a mantra. So much so that one day after unsuccessfully attempting to get himself run over and weeping and trembling as he stepped back onto the pavement, when a gentle hand touched his shoulder, concerned eyes looked into his own and said tell me your name brother, he said without hesitation…Coward. My name is Coward.
The first month he attended the church of the man with the concerned eyes, when asked, he insisted on telling people that his name was Coward. So used to rejection and with little self-esteem, it came as a shock to him when the members continuously strongly rebuked him for describing himself in such a way appalled at his self-denigration. The last Sunday of that month was the last day he called himself that. It was also the day he got saved. At the altar he wept with the strength of a thousand men. The church cried with him, happy tears, happy and clapping that yet another one had been snatched from the flames of hell. They didn’t know that his tears were for the coward he still felt he was inside….
To be continued……