Excerpt: Pretty Forgiveness, by ToniAnn Pressley
“A heartattack. Your heart was heavy, filled with guilt and regret.”
Her stare paralyzes him. He is over come with the most intense sense of fear and remorse he has had in years. He knows her. He cannot believe it. He thought he would never see her small questioning face again. He never thought he would make it to heaven because of her, because he’d killed her.
“Come on. I’ll show you around” she says with a pleasant smile up at him.
He only nods and follows behind her. All the while his mind is racing. He can’t focus on the beauty of the paradise. He keeps asking his self why he is here. He was certain that God would never accept him after what he did. Because what he did was unforgivable. Then his brain lapses back to that night, that hot summer’s night.
It was 1935. He was young, too young, the youngest out of his group of friends. The sun was setting over the hills. His friends and he were sitting outside on the porch of some small house. It was no bigger than a shack. Nowhere near as big as the house he would buy for his family when he was older. Mosquitoes buzzed around them constantly. The fireflies started to come out and flashed their bulbs. The crickets began their night song.
“Here, take a swig of this!” his buddy thrust a bottle of whiskey at his chest.
Cainnech didn’t like to drink. But his friends always pressured him into it. So he drank. He drank until they said it was enough. After an hour and a half, after the sun had fully set they were quite drunk. Cainnech ran his hand through his fiery red hair, then rubbed his freckled face.
“I recokn it’s time to go” he said, stumbling to his feet.
“Don’t go Cainnech. The party is just startin!” his friend who was even more drunk than he sputtered out. The others laughed in agreement, urging him to stay. As always, he stayed.
They all packed into two pick-up trucks. One was red the other blue. Driving down that dirt road, Cainnech stuck his face out of the window, closed his eyes and let the breeze fill his nostrils. He didn’t open his eyes until he felt the truck start to slow down.
“And here is where we live” Marabel said jarring him out of his past. He looks up in to trees filled with little houses coming out of there sides. There are tree-houses everywhere. It looks like a scene out of a children’s story book. It is a village in the trees. There are winding staircases wrapped around thick tree trunks. The houses are wrapped completely around the trees and are connected by flimsy wooden bridges.
“The Angels say we would’ve lived like this if it hadn’t been for Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit and all”
“Oh. I guess this all makes sense then.” But one thing still didn’t make sense to him.
How could he have made it here? He was certainly not worthy to live amongst this new Garden of Eden. How could he live beside these people who probably did good all of their lives; never hurting anyone, never stealing, never lying, and certainly never killing anyone.
“Let’s go up. I’ll show you your room. We all live together. Everyone shares everything.” He followed behind her, but his mind drifted away.
“What are you doing over here on this side of town huh?” Joe yelled out of the window at some young Black kids walking in the street. Cainnech opened his eyes abruptly and felt a wrenching in the pit of his stomach. The frightened kids didn’t say anything back they just tried to walk faster. But Joe pulled the first pick-up truck, the one Cainnech was in, closer to them.
“Get the hell outta the road! Y’all shouldn’t be out here in my town anyway didn’t your parents teach you to stay off this land” Joe exclaimed.
“Come on man, leave em alone” Cainnech beseeched.
Ignoring him, Joe kept on his drunken banter at the kids. He wouldn’t leave them alone. To make matters worse, all the others seemed to join in. No one expect Cainnech seemed to think anything was wrong with intimidating a bunch of kids on the road. Joe and the rest of the guys’ language became more and more belligerent. The children began to sense the real danger they were in and started to run.
“Hey look at em run! Look at em!!” Joe laughed, and then stepped on the gas following after the frightened children.