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Forgiven

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The cemetery was fairly big, but the amount of people there filled it up in seconds. Before the short service started, the family and friends of Aiden were grouped together, talking in whispers. Sad whispers.

Janice Bentley stood quietly in the front of the group, clutching her husband’s hand as he looked, stone-faced at the casket in front of him. Janice wiped her eyes repeatedly with her damp Kleenex, stuffed tightly in a ball in her fist. She couldn’t believe how many people were here for Aiden. She had forgotten how many people had loved him.
As she scanned the crowd of mourning people, she spotted a strangely, familiar girl on the edge of the crowd. The girl was propped carefully in a wheelchair, she kept shifting her body slightly every few minutes; as if she wasn’t used to being in a wheelchair. Her skin was pale and seemed to be stretched tightly over her bony figure, like someone who had once been very sick. The girl’s eyes looked sad but full of extreme love. A teenage boy stood next to her, with his hand protectively lying on one of her wheelchair handles. He talked quietly to the girl, she listened but didn’t reply. When she finally opened her mouth, a coughing fit exploded from her chest. She coughed and gasped, as if she was being strangled and when the horrible sound finally stopped, the girl rubbed her rib cage with a grimace on her small face. Janice couldn’t remember why she looked familiar; she didn’t think she had ever seen this girl. It frightened her; the girl was fragile, it seemed that one bad cough would send her to a grave next to Aiden.

The final prayer was underway. The prayer that would lower Aiden slowly into the warm ground. The pastor asked for all who could, to stand and join him in the sending prayer. Janice quickly glanced towards the girl. She had done this every few minutes throughout the service, watching as the girl let emotion filled tears fall down her bony cheeks. There was something about this unknown girl that transfixed Janice. This time, Janice watched as the girl in the wheelchair, shakily, and slowly, pulled herself out of her chair, standing gingerly and painfully on her two broken legs. The boy next to her tried to support her but she pushed his hands away.
Nobody noticed. Not one person besides Janice had noticed this girl stand miraculously on her two broken legs. No one saw the tears come flowing harder down her face, from the pain of standing. Only Janice heard the girl whisper ‘I forgive you.’
Nobody cared or wondered who this girl was; it didn’t matter, Janice finally knew. Finally, Janice saw the sad, but loving look in the eyes of a girl, lying helplessly, broken, on a hospital bed. She saw the fragile frame of a girl covered in blood, being dragged out of a black car; a black car smashed into a yellow convertible. Aiden’s yellow convertible. She heard the news reporters telling the story of a boy who had been texting while driving. A boy who had hit another car, containing a teen aged girl. An innocent girl.
Janice didn’t even watch as the casket was lowered completely out of sight. Instead, she watched the girl sit back down with a gasp of relief and the boy carefully push her down the dirt path towards their car.
Three words kept ringing in Janice’s head for years after. “I forgive you.”
She was free.



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