“Baby, I didn’t mean for it to happen.”
Your heart shatters at his words, piercing every inch of your body. They defy gravity, clawing their way up your throat on a river of sour bile. He’s not supposed to be saying this. You of all people should never hear those words—spoken in that order. Four years at seminary should have eradicated the sentence from his vocabulary.
The words are in your head now, deafening you, stabbing your eardrums for a release. He’s just a foot away, yet you see past his image to the clock on your kitchen wall. Twenty-two minutes before, life was fine. Twenty-two minutes before, you believed he knew better than to think that sweet thang sashaying down the aisle in her Pepto-Bismal Sunday best with the hat no one could ever see over had come to hear the Word.
“It’s just that…”
His lips are moving. But you think back to last year’s church picnic when he helped you pull that bass out of Lake Etta. It suckled the air for oxygen, struggling to survive. Unblinking eyes stared back at you. Pleading eyes. And as it thrashed on your line, you, and only you, held the power to set it free.
After his soliloquy, you reach for one of the clever retorts you and your book club had compiled for this very scenario. One that will keep you mired in the quicksand of anger you have no intention of leaving. At least not yet. Not until he’s shared in the misery he’s created. Your lips part. It’s on the tip of your tongue…
But then he says the words.
A tingle replaces the stabbing as you’re suddenly, unceremoniously yanked from the quicksand. You want to believe it’s the peppermint gum he’s been chewing for those twenty-two minutes watering his eyes. But it can’t be, because it couldn’t be so strong as to do the same to yours.
He whispers the words two more times. Now you have the power. Without thinking, you wield it, freeing you both when you finally respond:
“Yes, I forgive you.”
Above photo, Sadness in Blue, by J. Michel Carriere from Flickr