Forgiveness
Author: TickyPik
Content Rating: GA
Published: 2011-03-14 16:09:42
Tags: Life Death Trials Forgiveness Teen



Summary:
How an ordinary girl faces the challenges of life and death, and ultimately finds a way to forgiveness.

Author´s Notes and Disclaimers:
These characters are completely my own.


It’s so cold outside.

A rumbling sound echoed across the dark grey sky.

What am I doing here?

The girl stared blankly out into the streets as people hurriedly passed her without even a flicker of interest. Thick strands of long dark hair swept across her face as the near-winter wind blew. There was no focus in her green eyes, only the occasional reflection of light.

I wonder if anybody noticed I’m gone.

She suddenly felt a drop of rain on her head. Barely noticing, she tilts her head slightly upwards and fixes her eyes on the sky. The rolling storm clouds above released another resounding rumble. The pitter-patter sound of light rain filled her ears until that was all she could hear. The girl stayed still sitting on the same old bench and let the rain drench her. It was getting colder and colder, but she paid no heed, nothing would match the coldness she was already feeling in her heart. She continued to stare above as the rain blurred her vision. To a passer-by, it would almost look as if she was crying, but she wasn’t, she couldn’t. She was empty. The wind blew again, but now she could no longer deny its coldness. She tugged at her thin, black jacket, trying to gather more warmth. She knows she should probably go find a warmer place to stay, but she just couldn’t find the strength to move from this spot. Her hair now tangled and wet pressed against her face, burning her with the cold. Her clothes drenched and heavy, no longer served the purpose of keeping her warm, stuck to her body and seeped the warmth from her. The sky grew darker, and the streets were nearly devoid of people. Every now and then, only a few cars would blur across her vision. Night would soon come, and everybody was turning in for the night, but the girl stayed where she was. Blinking the rainwater from her eyes, she breathed out a long, white buff of air. On the other side of the street, she saw the streetlight turn on. She stared at the light, longing for its warmth, but made no movement to reach for it.

What happens now?

The thought echoed in her mind. What was she to do? Where is she going to go? She had left her home out of impulse, and now she is too afraid to go back. She has no reason to, not after what happened a month ago. She closed her eyes and hung her head, trying to push the memories out of her mind.

“Rather cold to be sitting here in this time of night.”

The girl opened her eyes in surprise. She suddenly noticed the rain was no longer pelting her. A pair black leather shoes under dark pants appeared in her view. She looked up. A young man, probably around his mid 20s held an umbrella above her, letting himself get soaked by the rain instead. His face was well shaven, and even in the dark, his light blue eyes were clearly visible, and they twinkled as he smiled. His slightly curled, light blond hair was starting to get wet. The kind, young stranger in a trench coat seemed to glow.

At a loss of words, she simply stared at him.

“You’re going to get a cold like that.”

The stranger waited for a response, but got none. He sighed, deciding what he should do with her. Looking around, he noticed most of the nearby café’s and restaurants were already closing. He crouched down to her level, still holding the umbrella over her head.

“Hey, I know a small café that opens late. I’m a friend of the owner, so he’ll probably let you stay the night. How ‘bout it?” He grinned, showing his pearly white teeth. “A hot cup of cocoa should sound pretty good right about now, huh?”

Actually, it did sound good, really good, and the cold was starting to be too much to take for her. She looked away, then back again. For some reason, it seemed all right to trust him. Maybe she was just hungry. Hesitantly, she nodded in reply.

With a relieved look on his face, he stood back up to make room for her. “It’s just a few blocks ahead. Here.” Struggling slightly, he managed to shed his heavy coat with one arm and pulled it over the girl’s shoulders. “That should keep you warm for the time being.”

She stared confused. What about him? He’s already starting to get drenched, and in this weather? What kind of person randomly gives his coat to a total stranger?

He looked down and noticed her worried expression. He gave a small chuckle. “Worry not. A little rain isn’t going to hurt me. I’m a strong man, see?”

The girl looked at him unconvinced, but she felt gratitude nonetheless. This guy’s weird. But he seemed harmless. Her ears twitched when she heard him start to hum. It had a nice soft sound to it, and it even seemed slightly familiar. Either way, the sound seemed the give off the same warmth he did. Her thoughts drifted as she continued to walk with her new acquaintance, and all the while, he kept the umbrella strictly over her head, determined not to let a single drop touch her.

“Ah! Here we are: Corner Cafe.” The man gestured for the girl to stop.

She looked up from her thoughts. The cafe was so small and it was wedged between two bigger buildings, making it seem even tinier than it already was. The walls were built up by crumbling red bricks with a maroon entrance and a neon OPEN sign flashing on the large glass window to the right. If one were to summarize this cafe with one word, it would be cozy.

The kind stranger pushed open the entrance door and motioned the drenched girl to go in. Taking a few steps in, she surveyed the scenery. A small chandelier in the middle of the ceiling and a few fluorescent bulbs at each corner lighted the diner, giving the white walls that surrounded her a yellowish glow. All along the four sides of the room were covered with rectangular tables and leather couches. The cafe was completely empty. Her eyes then travelled to the back of the room, across the polished wooden table, and set themselves on a man wiping a wineglass. With a cigarette in his mouth, he looked up from his work. He seemed to be about the same age as the girl’s companion and had dark eyes and long black hair with a black bandana tied over his head. He wore a simple white T-shirt with a black apron over it. He settled his glass and cloth down.

“Well. What in the world did you get yourself into now?”

The man with the bandana didn’t even glance at her; his eyes were completely focused on the rain-soaked man behind her.

“Heh. How ‘bout a cup of hot cocoa first- two actually.” The man shook the closed umbrella outside before shutting the door.

“Aye. Just a minute.” Without hesitation, the owner walked into the kitchen. Only a minute passed before he walked back out with two hot steaming cups. He settled them on a table closest to the two visitors. “You two should drink this first. I’ll get some dry clothes.” Still without a glance in the girl’s direction, he left through the kitchen door again.

“He might seem a bit cold, but he’s a really nice guy.”

She looked over at the stranger’s encouraging smile while motioned for her to drink the hot cocoa. With shaking hands, she brought the cup to lips. It smelled so good. The hot liquid burned her tongue, but she welcomed it. It was milky sweet. She was nearly finished her drink when the owner came back with two piles of dry clothes. This time, he looked at her as he passed her the clothes. His gaze seemed sharp but unguarded at the same time.

“They might be a bit big, but they’re warm. The washrooms are over to the left.” He pointed with his thumb.

His friend gave a big grin as he received his clothes. “Thanks a bunch! It was getting really chilly in here even with the heater.”

The girl followed the taller man towards the washrooms and walked in through the female door. She noticed a trail of wet footprints she left behind and wanted to clean them after. Inside one of the stalls, she quickly shed her freezing wet clothes and changed into the dry ones. It was a plain white t-shirt and blue jeans. They were a lot bigger on her than she originally expected but luckily the pants came with a belt. She suspects they belong to the owner, but there was no odour of cigarettes. After neatly folding her wet clothes, she gathered up the trench coat and walked out, slightly hesitating at the door and peering out. She felt a bit silly. Forcing herself to gather her courage, she marched stiffly back to her cocoa.

“Ah. They’re still too big, huh?” The gentleman who lent her the coat was already sitting down at a table sipping what seems to be another cup of cocoa. She nodded her head in embarrassment before noticing a bowl of soup with donuts and sandwiches at the side. She could smell the delicious scent as she walked over; she suddenly remembered she hadn’t eaten anything today.

Sitting across the table, the kind young stranger laughed at her hungry expression. “They’re for you, compliments of the chef!”

The girl blushed and sat down, staring down at her beautiful meal. She looked up when she noticed the owner had come back to refill her cup. She opened her mouth, struggling to thank him.

“No need. Just eat up. You still look cold.” He settled the pot down and stared at her with folded arms, as if ordering her to eat.

She did as she was told. The soup was a delight. It was so creamy and warm. She felt alive again… slightly.

“Ah, right! I never introduced myself!” The blond man sitting across from her paused. His brows furrowed in contemplation. “Well, my name is kind of difficult… so how ‘bout you just call me Legna?”

The girl looked at him slightly exasperated. Did he just make up a name on the spot? And what kind of a name is Legna?

He then pointed at the owner. “This guy here is the friend I told you about. His name is… well you can call him Nomed.”

The owner thumped his friend on the head. “Oi, don’t make up names for me, idiot.” He chewed on his cigarette butt, “jeez, always doing what you want. Whatever,” his eyes flickered to the girl. “You can call me that for now.”

She was getting even more confused. Why are they giving me fake names? Maybe they don’t trust me?

“So, what’s your name?” Legna looked toward her anxiously.

She looked back down at her soup. She suddenly felt very small. “Alice.” She squeezed out with a tiny voice.

“Alice. That’s a nice name. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Alice. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking.”

The two men continued to stare at her intently. She didn’t feel like talking about herself, the memories of the past few days were returning. “I’m 17.” She whispered again.

“That’s pretty young.” His tone suddenly turned serious. “Can you tell me why you were out there alone on a night like this?”

Alice fell silent.

The two friends looked at each other, exchanging looks of concern.

Alice sat still. They’re probably going to call the cops. That’s what anybody in their right mind would do. She would run, escape before they come. She still has time. However, she hoped they wouldn’t.

Legna sighed. Well, guess it can’t be helped.”

Alice squeezed her eyes shut.

Nomed ‘hm’ed in agreement. “You’ll just have to stay here until you’re willing to tell us.”

Alice looked up..

“But don’t think you can stay here for free. I expect you to help me prepare food, wash dishes, and clean the diner. Understood?”

Alice could feel the tears in the back of her eyes well up in relief. She bowed her head down, “Thank you so much.” Her voice shook with emotion.

Legna grinned and ruffled her hair.

***

The next few days came as a blur. Apparently, the cafe was not only a cafe, it was Nomed’s house and it would occasionally act as a hotel to whoever needed it. In this case, it was Alice. It seemed Legna had a habit of bringing in random strangers from the streets much to Nomed’s dismay. This puzzled Alice even further as to just what kind of people Legna and Nomed were. Despite the size of the cafe, there were always a lot of customers. Alice was up to her neck in work since there were no other workers except for the owner, but she didn’t mind, it kept her thoughts busy. Legna had brought her a new set of clothing that fit a lot better, making moving around much easier. Alice vowed to pay him back. The days were bustling, it seemed so alive, almost fun to her. Despite the busyness of the day, Nomed would often be seen near the kitchen door reading a magazine or a book. He paid almost no attention to her. She wonders how he keeps up with all the orders and still has time to read while she scrambles to pass them back and forth to him. However, at the end of everyday, Nomed would give her a small smile and a pat on the head. Legna on the other hand would come in about once everyday and order a cup of cocoa and nothing else. He was always in a suit with the same brown trench coat. Everyday, he would ask her the same question he did on the first day he met her, and everyday he would get the same silent reply. But the man was relentless. Out of curiosity, Alice asked him what he did for his job one day.

Well, I guess you can say I’m a mailman… of a sort… kind of.” He would then give an obscure shrug with a sheepish grin plastered all over his face.

That’s just suspicious. Nomed too. Just who are these two? Alice gripped the handle of her mop as she swept across the floor of the cafe. It was closing hour and Nomed was at the counter reading another one of his books. It’s been almost three weeks now and I hardly know a thing about those two. She felt a peeved for some reason. Having finished moping, she dumped the murky water in the back sink, washed her hands and made her way to Nomed.

Nomed was midway through flipping a page when he said, “ Done? Did you wash the dishes?” He was always able to sense her presence even if she was as quiet as a mouse.

“Uhn.” Alice was amazed at his keen senses.

Nomed stood up and closed his book. Walking past Alice, he patted her on the head again. “You did good today.”

Alice blushed, thinking she might have a small crush on him.

“I’m going to take a shower, if that guy shows up, the drink is ready in the coffeemaker.”

“Ok.” Alice replied, still blushing.

Like he predicted, in just a few moments later, Legna came in with a broad grin on his cheeks. “Hey, Alice. How’s it goin’?”

Alice nodded in response. “I’ll go get your cocoa.” She hurried to the kitchen and back, feeling the heat from the cup as she set it down at Legna’s table. He always sat at the same table, the one where they all sat at the first day.

“Alice, why don’t you sit down with me?”

She knew what was coming, but obliged anyway.

“Well? Are you ready to tell me yet?” Legna sipped at his cocoa with his eyes closed. It seemed like he was expecting the same answer he always got.

Alice looked at him with a small smile playing on her lips. Despite his nature, Legna was never one for small talk; he always got straight to the point. “Can I ask you a question first?”

Legna opened his eyes in slight surprise. “Please.”

Alice breathed then exhaled. “Why are you guys going to such lengths to help me?”

He stared at her. “Such lengths? I did what anyone would have done.”

“That’s not true.” Alice’s eyes hardened. “You were the only ones who even looked at me.”

Legna raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”

“You gave me food, a place to stay and work, and you didn’t even call the police when I wouldn’t tell you my background.” Tears started to well up in her eyes. “Why? Why did you two do so much to help me? Someone like me…” Her voice shook and she trailed off, keeping her head down. She could feel him staring at her, she regretted sitting down. All she wanted now was to crawl into a deep, dark hole, away from this shameful conversation.

Legna’s eyes softened as he stared at her silently. “I think you’re view of the world might be too cynical. I still stand by what I said. There are most definitely many people out there who would have done the same. Now what did you mean by someone like you?”

Alice’s shoulder shook from the suppressed emotion. “I-I know… that the world isn’t so nice. It’s full of horrible people who do horrible things. And yet, you two are so willing… to help… someone like me… who’s done… who doesn’t even deserve….” Alice gritted her teeth, unable to go on. Hot tears rolled down her cheeks while she clenched her fists so hard the nails dug into her palms, trying to choke back her sobs.

Legna settled his cup down and slightly leaned forward. “Did you do something… horrible?”

Alice nodded, hunched over, trying her best to hold herself together.

“What did you do?”

A choked sob escaped her lips. The words that tumbled out of her mouth became soft and almost incoherent. “…We were supposed to be together forever. But because of me…” Alice took a deep breath, “If only I didn’t tell him to get on that stupid motorcycle, if only I listened to him….” Alice hung her head so low her forehead pressed against the table. “If only I listened to him…”

It had come so fast, Alice turned around the corner, but she lost control of the bike. The tires slid across the puddle making a horrible screech as she tried desperately to break. Smacking into the railing on the highway, Oscar was thrown off the bike while Alice’s leg was stuck, forcing her down with the motorcycle. She saw her friend fly through the air and land on the concrete ground with a heavy thump like a slab of meat being thrown onto a cutting board. There was a sudden boom of a car horn and the glare of the front lights shown straight into her eyes. She shut her eyes in reflex. A screeching sound, then a sickening crunch echoed in her ears. She forced her eyes open just as the second pair of tires on the truck rolled across Oscar’s broken body.

Alice gasped as the memories flooded into her. She could no longer hold in her cries. She sobbed freely. “I-I killed him! Oh my god! I killed him!”

Legna fell silent for a while as he watched her cry. Letting out a small sigh, he messaged his eyes.

“You’re right. That is horrible.”

Alice groaned between sobs. She was feeling the pain and grief of finally acknowledging what she did. But for someone to agree with her hurt her even worse.

“What are you going to do now?”

Alice opened her eyes. It was the same question she asked herself three weeks ago.

“You killed someone dear to you. Then unable to face the consequences of your actions, you ran away from it all, and while you’re here, the people left behind, your family and friends, are left to deal with the pieces of your mistake.”

Alice’s eyes widened with horror. His words were sharp and they pierced her where she was most sore.

“What are you going to do, Alice? Continue to run away from reality? Continue to hurt the ones who care about you the most?”

Alice shook under the weight of his harsh tone, under the weight of her own guilt. “I don’t know,” she breathed out.

“What?” Legna snapped at her.

“I DON’T KNOW! …I don’t know….”

“Then you’re a coward.”

Alice continued to tremble. She never looked up, even as he heard Legna stand from his seat and leave through the entrance. She continued to stay in the same spot, trembling and crying.

A heavy sigh entered her ears from nearby.

“That guy’s a bit too harsh sometimes.”

She heard Nomed sit down across from her. She didn’t dare look up; the shame of letting him see her swollen face would be too much. It was bad enough he heard the whole conversation.

“Although he was a bit too quick to judge, I guess he was doing what was best.” Nomed passed his hand through his hair. “One thing you need to be clear on: you didn’t kill him, it was an accident. But, you did make one hell of a mistake.” He inhaled from his cigarette and breathed out slowly. “Alice, sit up.”

She did as she was told, still holding her head low. A wet towel appeared before her, offered by the man sitting across from her. Alice took it graciously and covered her face with it, muffling her whimpering. When she set the towel down again, Nomed continued to speak.

“Everyone’s entitled to a few mistakes in our lives, Alice. It is human nature to make mistakes. You just happened to make a big one.” He took another breath from his cigarette. “Let me translate what that guy was trying to say.”

Alice peered at Nomed through the dark strands of her hair.

“Making a mistake will not damn you. Running away from the consequences and pushing its burden onto the shoulders of others do. It’s not too late, Alice. You still have a chance to redeem yourself. I won’t lie and tell you it will be easy, no. You’ll probably suffer the consequences of this mistake for all your life.” Nomed tilted his head slightly downward and stared squarely into her eyes. “So Alice, you now have two choices. You can either live in guilt.” He paused, “or die in shame.”

The last sentence shocked her. He was completely serious. Alice remained frozen.

Nomed stood up and patted her head again before passing her. “You’re a good kid, Alice. Get some rest.”

***

Alice sat in the guest bed restlessly as the evening’s event replayed over and over again in her head like a broken record. She looked around the dark room before setting her eyes out the window. Dawn was nearing, a new day. I’m going to miss this place. She stared out the window for another hour before getting dressed. She was no longer wearing the clothes Nomed and Legna gave her, these were her own, the ones she wore when she first met them. Alice silently crept passed Nomed’s room and down the stairs into the diner. She took out a napkin and a pen and slowly wrote down her farewell.

Thank you. For everything.

Taking one last look around the cafe, she left through the back door, closing it silently behind her.

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