What do these texts suggest to you about the impact significant events have on an individual’s ability to determine their own destiny?
Washing the Past Away
The rain felt like uproarious applause to him, as if some great event had occurred around him, though he was unaware of it. The world was a dull grey, verging onto a darkness that only a storm could bring. Some ran for shelter into the nearest coffee shop, while others simply cowered under their umbrellas, hoping that if they didn’t raise their eyes or expose their head, then maybe they could hide from the darkness. Because the rain had a way of influencing people; they reflected the glum natural world before them. But to him, he was fine with this darkness and the cold embrace of water clinging to his skin. After all, for three years of his life it felt like a constant storm, first being uprooted, then tossed from place to place. Across the way some man meandered out of a pub with a bottle in his hand. He held it up to the rain as if to collect the tears being wept and drink from them, but when he discovered that his efforts were futile, he smashed the bottle and left.
His father sat on the couch with a can of beer in his hand, watching the flickering screen of sports highlights and, as he liked to call them, “real men” playing football. How much he wished that his son could be more like this. During this time, three years ago, the boy’s father did nothing much besides come home from his job and waste away from a can of liquid confidence, or perhaps, belligerence. After school, the young son of this man would sneak in through the back door and simply go straight to his room, as to futilely avoid the unavoidable confrontation sure to happen later that night. Sometimes he’d peak out the door and watch as his father would snort and chuckle as the crude humour of the television show made his fat stomach move. His mother came out of the kitchen telling her husband she had made dinner, to which the lazy man’s reply was, “About time.” They all sat at the table and ate.
The boy had gotten good at lying about his grades to his father. Today was the day he got his report card, and by no means was his father to see it. Normally he would leave it at school, but today he had forgotten to remove it from his back. Hiding it was no use, as it would surely be found sooner or later. With a half full plate, the child dropped his fork and pushed the food away.
“I’m not hungry,” he almost whispered.
“No, you’re not,” was the only reply to break the silence.
But how could he eat when he was already full? In his room, he had eaten his report card so that his father couldn’t see it. Still, he took another bite. His mother did the same. Bite after bite, the chewing being the only ambient noise, the mother suddenly inquired about the rent.
“Dear, when will you have rent for this month? We’re running out of….”
“Are you questioning my ability to work?” he interrupted. She shook her head but her silent response only stirred his anger.
“Am I not good enough for you Marie, is that it? Is that what you’re saying?” he said with a rising tone. The drink had taken control. His face contorted into a macabre, red scowl. He stood up and smacked the woman across her face, though only her head slightly turned. Her hair fell over her eyes and no movement was seen from her mouth. There was a silence, as if the slap had left an echo they were all listening for. She stood up and grabbed her son by the wrist and took him to his room. She picked up all of his clothes and shoved them into his backpack. She did the same to her clothes, but put them into a single suitcase, all the while the man stood at the table, starng at his hand as if he had just been amputated. He suddenly turned around to meet the gaze his family at the door. With a simple goodbye and the boy’s dumbstruck countenance, the pair left the house despite the father’s pleas for forgiveness. He stood in the doorway, the silhouette of a man who had lost it all.
A nearby taxi driving through the nearby puddle woke the boy from his thoughts, and only the rain remained. The drunk man from the pub had left long ago, and the street corner he was on had begun to slightly flood over. He had waited here, like he had been told to from the text his father had sent. Yes, three years later and he still feared the man. Was he still the prudent, abusive man he was, was he going to exact his revenge on him, was he….? Across the street, he recognized his face. Staring back at him, a life of abuse, in between them was a three year long road of emotion pent up. The man smiled. Through the rain he could make out that, indeed, he had the same face, but his figure had grown slimmer. On his jacket, a shiny button that pierced like a beacon through the grey, rainy world, labelled “AA.” Perhaps, thought the boy, perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps, the small white man in the sign flashed and the man started crossing the street towards him. Every step the man took was a wet slap, bringing back a familiar echo that only served to raise the boy’s heart rate. He was frozen. The cold rain had finally frozen him, but only when the man embraced him, did the boy warm up.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, first, then repeated it in a sob, “I’m sorry.”
Years of pent up emotion. Years of a vendetta. They melted away into the storm gutter along with his tears, and the rain, and the dark world he had known.
“I forgive you.”