Saturday, March 23, 2013

Classmate in Prison (Prompt Exercise)


You receive a letter at your workplace from a high school classmate, who is now in prison. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”


I sat in the prison visiting room in front of a large plexiglass panel with telephone receivers on either side. I was the only one in the room and I waited. After several minutes, I saw Sean come in through the glass. Even though we were in separate rooms, he was still shackled. He must of really fucked up. I didn’t even know what he was in for and I didn’t want to know.

He sat down in front of me and took the receiver off the hook. I grabbed mine and put it to my ear as I looked into his tired eyes.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“You contacted me,” I said.

“I didn’t ask you to come here though.”

“Well, I’m here. What do you want?”

He paused and fidgeted with the chains between his wrists. Then, with a look of deep and profound sadness he said, “I want you to forgive me.”

I stared at him blankly for a moment then I thought of all the times he had teased me. The pranks he pulled. The embarrassment he caused me. He was such a mean kid who turned into a mean adult and as far as I was concerned he got what he deserved from his life. He was locked up. He couldn’t hurt anyone anymore. Hell, maybe he was the one getting bullied now. Maybe he was somebody’s bitch or a prison-wife. Good, I thought.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why do you think? Look at where I am.”

“I didn’t put you in here. If I had to guess that was your doing.”

“I’m just trying to make things as right as I can. To make amends, ya know?”

“Are you in a 12-step program or something?”

“No. Just thinking about karma.”

I wanted to say to him, Well I don’t forgive you. You can just fuck off and rot in here for all I care. You don’t deserve my forgiveness or anyone’s for that matter. You’ve gotten what you deserve and if that’s going to fuck up your karma, then so be it.

But I couldn’t. To tell the truth, I hadn’t thought about him in years until I received that letter. And while it did bring up some painful memories, I didn’t feel the grudge that I used to feel when I was helpless and being tormented by him as a youth. And now... I actually felt sorry for him.

I looked into his tired, sad eyes and said, “Okay, Sean. I forgive you.”

“You’re not just saying it, are you?”

“No. I really mean it. I forgive you.”

“Thanks, man. You have no idea what that means to me.”

“I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through in there. But if my forgiving you can make you feel a little better, I guess it’s the least I can do.”

No comments:

Post a Comment