My friend sat across the room, smiling a bemused smile.
What good is a memory, she asked me in a sensible voice.
What good…what good?! I felt that familiar twinge make itself known in my heart. Life is nothing (nothing!) but a collection of memories. What good is a memory? I was angry at my friend’s words and longed to speak out and make my objection known. I wanted to cry out and show my friend the folly in discounting memory. Eventually, everyone becomes nothing (nothing!) but…I couldn’t bear the thought that a memory is worth nothing.
But still I didn’t speak, a pleasant smile fixed on my face.
Yes, I do believe you’re right, I heard myself saying. It’s best not to hold on to a grudge so tightly.
Exactly. My friend smiled beauteously and took me by the hand. Oh, how glad I am that this is all smoothed over. How glad John will be that you’ve decided to forgive him!
But I haven’t! This went unsaid and I was lead into the room in which John waited with a visage of pained trepidation.
The room was small, very small. I didn’t know what room this was, for I certainly hadn’t been here before. It seemed to be some sort of former chapel. Averting my eyes from John, I looked at some small stain on the wall. Perhaps a glass of wine from communion had spilled there. I imagined some clumsy priest fumbling and dropping the wine on the table. I pictured the dark red stain spreading across the cloth, eventually reaching the wall. I imagined the priest looking embarrassed, some people muttering. There would be no forgiveness there.
John cleared his throat. Please, forgive me. He tried his best to look penitent.
I snapped out of my reverie and looked casually at the man who had ripped my heart out. I wondered if he deserved even so much as my presence.
And what a horrible creature sat before me! How cunning he looked. How…miserable. The poor letch was trying so hard to hide his displeasure at being so publicly shamed. And failing dreadfully! Even a saint would have a hard time forgiving him.
But forgiveness lay heavy upon me. I wanted so badly to be angry. Why couldn’t I be angry? Why!?
Looking at the stain on the wall again, I realized I had no idea what this room once was. Perhaps it wasn’t a chapel. They certainly wouldn’t do communion in a room so small. But I had never been to mass, I did not know how these things went. Just a daydream then, I supposed.
I forced myself to look at John. I pictured the embarrassed priest and the spilled wine, but pushed it away, drawing instead the burden of forgiveness.
Painfully, the tiny, invisible chain wrenched my arm upwards in a gesture of absolution. The scowl on my face looked oddly like a benevolent smile.