. He would never forget the day it happened.
“I’ll see you after class, Matt.” Carter had told him, heading to biology.
But he would never see him again. That was the last day, the last moment, Matt would ever see his younger brother.
It’s funny how some memories the mind would subconsciously erase, but some memories would never fade. They would always stay etched in the back of the mind and would play on repeat. This day, this particular day, Matt’s mind never seemed to forget no matter how much he prayed to God about it.
He should have seen that something was wrong with his best friend. Ricky had always been a pretty quiet guy, but now looking back on it, sitting outside of the courtroom that would condemn him of his crimes, Matt saw that he should have seen the way Ricky was being extra quiet. He would retreat to himself more. He stopped going out, was always at home, and never said more than two words to anyone. Matt thought that maybe this was a phase, something brought on because his girlfriend decided to dump him two weeks before the prom. This was his first mistake.
He should have seen that his friend was acting weird that day. This was his second mistake.
“You coming to the party tonight, Ricky?” Matt asked.
“No,” Ricky paused, then closed his locker door. “I have a lot of homework to do.”
Those were the last words he said before heading to the biology room.
“You need to forgive him.” Matt looked up through tear stained eyes as his mother sat down next to him on the bench outside the courtroom. “You have to forgive him. It’s eating you up inside.”
“Forgive him? He doesn’t deserve it!” Matt’s voice got louder and louder until it was ringing in the halls of the courthouse. The judge, the jury, and every policeman in the place could probably hear him, but that made no difference to Matt. “How can I forgive my friend, someone who grew up with me, someone who came over to my house every afternoon to hang out, someone I thought I could trust… that Carter could trust… how am I supposed to forgive someone who walks into a classroom and pulls the trigger on six people he went to school with, his friends?”
“We don’t know what was going on in his mind, honey.”
“Nothing! Nothing was going on in his mind, Mom! He wasn’t thinking of anyone but himself. Everyone in that room had potential. Some were graduating in a few months, and he took all of that away from them! It doesn’t matter what was going on in his head.” Matt swore, kicking his feet and slamming his fists down on the wooden armrest next to him. “He doesn’t deserve forgiveness! Do you really want to forgive the guy who killed Carter?”
His mother flinched at the sound of his brother’s name. Her face was solemn, but when she looked at him, Matt saw something in her eyes that was without explanation. She said calmly, “I have spent the last year and a half being angry at your former classmate because of the events that happened that Tuesday morning. I have often cursed God, screaming at him for allowing this man, no more than a child himself, for taking the life of my son and the sons and daughters of other families. But He was there through it all—through every doubt, every curse, every screaming match, He listened, and He waited to respond. And when He did, He showed me that that resentment, that anger that dwelled within me, wasn’t doing me any good. The only way to feel better was forgiveness, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are only two who can condemn the guilty. The first is God. The second is the twelve people deliberating in the next room. Our job is to forgive.”
“Excuse me, Miss.” Matt didn’t know if his mother wanted to keep talking, but a police officer approached them. “The jury has reached a verdict.”
Matt sighed, following his mother into the courtroom.
“The jury finds the defendant, Ricky Holton, guilty.”
“Holton, you have mail,” the warden had said.
Ricky stared down at the letter addressed to him. It had been six months since the sentencing, and he had not received one letter yet. Not even from his parents, who had looked so disappointed the day his guilty verdict came in.
The letter had no return address. He prayed it wasn’t from the same people back home who had sent him countless death threats before the trial began, but the warden usually sifted through their mail so none of the inmates ever saw letters like that.
Ricky opened the letter. It wasn’t very long, only a few words, but those words were the best thing he would ever hear for the rest of his life.
I forgive you.
Hey friends! I hope you enjoyed it!! –Krystal:)