Redemption

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I opened the door and stepped onto the deck. The potent smell of pine trees and early morning dew was a good wakeup call. I began to tie my shoes with disdain. I fashioned my laces so tightly it felt like my shoes were a size 7. I popped an earphone in and set out on my way. Left, right, left, right, at first methodically. Slowly my pace increased. Soon my legs were pumping like the pistons of a car engine.
I was focused. I had to do something to drop the thoughts from my mind. I thought about last night. The callous, cold words exchanged, my shameful thoughts and desires of harm. I tried to forget. I tried to erase them from my mind. I wanted to apologize for all the things I’d done and all the things I’d said. I wanted to hug them and let them know that I’m not the person I try to project. I wanted to be a family again.
My legs were made of lead, my breath was razor sharp. Every inhalation felt like nails being shot into my lungs. The pain in my body made the pain in my mind seem trivial. I closed my eyes and pushed harder. The tears welled in the back of my eyes. I’m sorry, I said with what little breath remained in my lungs. No one heard me.
Color dimmed. I focused on the path ahead. Trees approached and faded, green blurs in the periphery of my consciousness. I was coming up on a fork. I knew the destination, but not the route to take.
To the left, the trail wound and twisted to a small, government subsidized housing unit. There I would find any outlet I wanted, any escape from my problems.
To the right, I would find true redemption. I could run home, and do with a kiss or a hug what no tablet or concoction could ever do. There, true, genuine happiness would ensue. I could tell them I understand and that I want to change. Most of all, I could tell them that I love them.
I made my decision. The tears began to stream down my cheeks. The outside of my eyes twitched and burned. I sprinted down the road home, my sins collected in front of me. My lungs became rigid, but I didn’t care. I kept sprinting. As I made the final approach to my destination, my head began spinning. My heart was pounding against my sternum. I felt like throwing up. I ran up the steps to my front porch, and collapsed.
I woke up in the arms of my mother. She was crouched on arthritic knees, cradling my head with one hand and speaking to the paramedics with the other. Her sobs were violent and deliberate. She hung up the phone and looked down at me with caring eyes. The she set down the phone and grabbed the inhaler next to her. I took it from her, and before I took a puff, I managed to gasp one thing: “Mom, I love you.”

“ I know,” she said smiling. She patted my head and kissed me on the forehead, like she used to when I was a little kid. “I never forgot,” she said. I lay there on the floor, struggling for air like a fish out of water. I was the happiest I’d been in quite a while.





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