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Forgiveness Found

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Forgiveness Found
It was the children’s laughter that haunted her the most. The way they ran around the gym, chasing each other, and falling to the ground in excitement. She had watched them from the doorway, standing in the shadows as not to be seen. She had come here to inspect it; to see what damage could be done. But she followed the noise to the gym and had come upon the children. They laughed and giggled as if they had no care in the world. Which they didn’t.
She moved on quickly, not wanting to be deterred from her mission. She lurked in the shadows past doors and hid in corners when she heard voices. She checked unlocked doors and windows.
But mostly, she thought about her days here, not long ago. And instead of hearing laughter, she heard cries. Her own cries. When she heard laughter, it was all directed at her. She hid in the closet and cried, inflicting pain on herself to get rid of the fear. No one cared, and no one looked for her. Why would they? After all, they hardly knew she existed.
She shook her head and exited the building, pulling up her black hood as she entered the cold.
She returned two short days later. December 12. She had it picked out, special. It had nothing to do with the numbers and everything to do with when her torture had reached its peak.
She wore baggy clothes, and entered the school building. Then pulling out her gun, she started shooting, trying not to think about what she was doing. With every gunshot, she winced. But she couldn’t bring herself to stop. Because with every gunshot and every scream, she heard her own screams. And with every drop of blood she saw, she saw her own blood on the floor of that closet. She still had the scars and someone else would bear those scars with her.
The school was small, as she planned. It didn’t take her long. She finished in the cafeteria and turned on the stoves. Lighting a match she let the fire burn free. She ran out of the building into the arms of the police. She hadn’t heard the sirens, or even seen how many people she’d killed. The only thing she could think about was her own pain. And matching that with everyone else’s.
She barely heard anything the attorney said. She heard 497 deaths and 156 injured. She heard 50 years and no bail. And she heard fire and only charred pieces left. But mostly, she heard the screams. And she knew that even though her screams were worse, they didn’t deserve it. But what could she do now? The damage was done.
She reentered the gym, those 50 years later. She was surprised she was even let out. The gym was charred, broken down, and sad. It cried out for children to shoot hoops, and teachers to blow whistles. It’s faded paint ached to be renewed. And mostly, its soul tore for the young girl that stood now its brokenness. For it knew, her pain could never be forgiven. But her actions could.
And for once, the girl felt the forgiveness she had yearned for for 50 years.





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