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Don't Forget Forgiveness
It tasted wretched. Like bile that rose from his throat in a frothy mess. Is this what it really tasted like? Something corrupted? Evil? Sinful? It tasted rotten.
It was a single piece of chocolate, one that had been nestled away in crimped paper, resembling something far more than pleasurable taste.
But Evan didn’t feel that right now. All he felt was numb, with the creeping edges of guilt faded in the distance. He chewed the chocolate slowly. It shouldn’t have been like this. He shouldn’t have been sitting on the foot of his bed, in his room. But he was. And he couldn’t change it.
“Evan!” he remembered her voice calling. “Evan, which one?”
He was in a department store. It was so fancy, Evan felt himself twitch uncomfortably. But she had dragged him here, dying for the perfect dress for tomorrow night. At the moment, she was holding up two dresses, one black and one white, up against her body, posing in front of a gleaming full-length mirror.
Despite the uneasiness, Evan couldn’t help but smile. “White,” he said, “looks so much better.”
She turned around, returning the smile and gesturing with the black dress. “What’s so wrong with black?” she asked with raised eyebrows.
“You don’t need extreme cleavage to look beautiful,” Evan replied softly, spinning her around and moving the white dress in front of her so she was facing the mirror, white cloth covering her body.
“So it’s the white dress?”
“Of course,” Evan said. “You look amazing. I can’t wait until you put it on.”
“Tomorrow!” she said playfully. He could hardly wait.
“Evan!” A voice broke him out of his trance, his day dream, his nightmare. It was his mother’s voice. “Evan, we leave in two hours!” she called from downstairs.
He got up and opened his closet. Without looking he quickly grasped the black suit he was supposed to wear. He hated black. Nevertheless, he was told to wear it because that’s what everyone was else was wearing.
Since when does everyone have to match? Evan thought. But it was an important event for family friends, and Evan respected their wishes. He dressed methodically, checking his pants, his shoes, and his tie for any blemishes. There were none.
“She’s ready!” her mother called.
It was the night, the one they had been waiting for. Evan was in their living room, waiting to take her to the dance, her father sitting next to him. They had been talking about Evan’s future, mentioning different colleges and universities that would fit his profile. Evan already knew where he wanted to go, and with his transcript he was sure to be accepted. As soon as her mother called, though, thoughts of the future were dismissed. Evan was nervous for this moment, and the moments to come.
And then she descended the stairs. Evan was awestruck. She looked perfect. Her mother stood stunned as well, her hands to her chest, tears running down her face.
As she stepped down the last couple steps, Evan stood and took her hand. She smiled at him.
“How does it look?”
Evan beamed. “You are beautiful.”
“How does it fit?” her mother asked.
There was no answer.
“How does it fit? Evan?”
Evan sat up in his seat and looked around. He was in the passenger seat of the family car; his father was driving. His mother was inquiring from the backseat.
Evan swallowed. “It fits fine, mom.”
“Ok, good, thank you.”
He returned to his thoughts. He wondered if he had done the right thing. It was one of those one-time moments. If you failed, there was no going back.
“Whatcha thinking about?”
Evan was gazing out past the parking lot, into the city and its sleepiness at this hour. He was at the dance, outside the building, looking out from its spot on the crest of a hill, watching the hilly suburban area darken as sleep overtook its owners.
She was with him, in his arms in that amazing white dress of hers. It was quiet out there, them being the only couple outside.
Evan sighed. “Sometimes, you just start to thinkin’ so much that you have no idea what you’re thinking about, you know?”
She tried for a straight face, but her giggling out won it. “No! I have no idea!”
“Argh.” Evan tousled her hair. The air became stilled with silence again. It wasn’t awkward. They both enjoyed each other’s company, sometimes in which quiet moments were desired. Though sometimes, Evan joked it was her feminine needs for a conversation that broke the silence.
“You can’t drive me home, hmm?”
“No,” he sighed, “still got six more months until then.”
She sighed dreamily. “I never want this moment to end.”
“Neither do I.” It was cliché but it was true. He couldn’t have felt happier at that moment with her.
But then, he realized, he could have. And as the heart-thumping impulse struck him, Evan looked down, rested his hands on his shoulders and kissed her.
She seemed to melt in his arms. And to Evan’s relief, she kissed him back. It was their first kiss.
And then it was over. They both just held each other in their arms, and they stayed that way until her father picked her up.
Evan watched as she climbed into the front seat of the white SUV"humorously matching her white dress"and drive off.
By then the crowd was petering out form the building, the other teenagers piling into cars and peeling out of the parking lot. Somewhere, rap music played.
Evan was left with his thoughts. Most of them were happy. Some a little sad. A few even scared. But what made it worse was a single probing thought: Should I have told her I loved her? It worried him greatly, far more than it should have.
Next time, he decided, I will tell her. The thought relieved him and, with everyone gone, he got in his car and drove out of the lot.
“It’s so rundown…”
“It’s an old church, honey…”
Evan opened his eyes. He didn’t realize he had fallen asleep. Dazed, he looked around outside the car. They were pulling into the small lot of an old Presbyterian church. The only sign of a modern touch was the number of cars parked in the road and in the lot.
The numbness that had been gripping Evan for weeks was ebbing away. And his composure was slowly eroding underneath. He and his parents parked and got out of the car to ascend the steps to the front door. When they arrived at the closed oak doors, Evan stopped in his tracks. His voice cracked.
“Could you guys give me a minute?”
His mother hesitated, a pained look on her face, but his dad planted a firm hand on his shoulder. “Take your time, son.”
And then they were gone. Evan just leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes.
It was cold driving home. Evan cranked up the heater, keeping his eyes on the road and the night’s traffic. It was unusually busy, especially for this single lane road. Evan crept ahead in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. What was holding everyone up?
Then the answer flashed in the form of red, blue, and yellow lights, far up ahead. It looked like ambulances and police cars. What"
“No!” Evan threw his car into park and jumped out, screaming the entire time.
It was a collision. Two vehicles had hit each other. One was a black truck. And the other was a white SUV.
He was sprinting now. The scene grew closer and with it Evan’s panic. It looked like the truck had driven straight into the passenger’s side of the SUV.
“No!” Evan had almost reached the wreck when two uniformed police officers appeared. He was right at the edge of the scene when they seized him by his arms. They were talking, yelling, trying to calm him down. But their efforts were lost as Evan kicked and screamed, tears streaming down his face.
They started dragging Evan to a police cruiser, and rightly so, because even with handcuffs clasped in place he still resisted.
But as Evan was guided into the police car, he caught one last fleeting, flickering glimpse of a single object on the asphalt.
It was a cell phone. It was her cell phone. The screen was cracked, shattered in a latticework of crystal. On the screen read three powerful words.
I love you.
And then it died.
Evan opened his eyes and took a breath as he remembered her last words. They gave him strength as he opened the heavy doors of the church and entered its hall. Bench seats filled with people lined the room, but Evan ignored them as he walked slowly to the front. Facing him, in all its undying beauty, was her portrait.
Evan stood there, unable to move, until he whispered away his guilt.
“I love you too.”
And there he left his burden behind.