Forgiveness -- flash fiction by Natalie Hampton
Will I ever stop waking up at 3 am, clammy, red-faced, and wishing I’d never met him in the first place? Will I ever stop reaching over for the other half of the bed, forgetting it is empty and cold?
Will I ever be able to forgive him?
Colleagues of mine threw their retired rings into the ocean after divorce, hoping to drown any lingering regrets into the chopping waters, but this wasn’t the same. Still, I couldn’t keep wearing it. I couldn’t constantly be reminded of what would never again be mine.
10 years of my life, since junior year of college, were spent within his arms. We rushed into love, engaged in months, married after graduation. I feared there would be trouble when he was at law school and I spent evenings waiting tables, but never once did we have any fights that weren’t resolved in days.
When will the anger begin to fade? Maybe I’m just crazy and need someone to blame and he’s the easiest. I shouldn’t be mad at him, but isn’t anger one of the stages of grief? I told him to stay another night on his business trip -- it was late and storming -- but he was the one who insisted on driving home that evening.
When I woke the next morning and scrolled through missed messages, I didn’t understand. There were missed calls, many I’m so sorry for your loss, and I thought there must have been some misunderstanding because surely nothing was wrong. Until I read what his sister sent.
2:47am Hey, Olivia, there’s been an accident. Liam, he’s in the hospital. I think he’s going to be okay, but I’m not sure. Please, answer my calls. I don’t know what to do.
3:01am It’s bad. Please, I know you’re probably asleep, but I’m scared. No one is answering.
3:17am It’s getting worse. I’m really scared, Olivia.
3:40am The doctor told me they are taking him back for some surgery. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s worse than I thought. They won’t let me see him.
4:10am Call me.
6:28am I’m so sorry Olivia.
She left a voicemail at 6:25, and I listened, hoping for some explanation, but her lament wasn’t the answer I needed.
Everything after that was a blur. I still wake every morning, feeling quicksand rush between my limbs, pulling me deeper and deeper until the thin grains begin to seep into my lungs and oxygen is a mere concept.
He should have listened to me; he shouldn’t have made that drive. He was selfish, and for that, I’m not sure I can ever forgive him. Now I am the one who lives everyday with his mistakes. I would join him, but I know he would want me to keep living, and for the years of love he gave me, I owe him at least that.
I may not be able to forgive him, but I can try to still live for him.
Natalie Hampton is a sophomore from Houston. Her work has previously been published in Truant Lit, Scarlet Leaf Review, and the anthology Little Inked Birds. She has also been recognized at the National level of the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. She serves as a reader at Polyphony Lit and an editor at Cathartic Magazine. When she isn't writing, she likes to volunteer, work in activism, and play soccer.