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Streams Of Forgiveness

Maddie knew the sound of crunching shrubbery was going to be the death of her; the creatures could hear her coming. She tried walking lightly, but in her mind each step only brought her closer to the mauling that awaited her.

The night air snaked through the trees. She breathed in while stretching her lower back, trying to summon any bit of strength she could. The smell of moss and a musty decay filled her lungs.  She reached in her bra and pulled out a mini-bottle of Absolute Vodka and scoffed that it wasn’t Kazenka, the good-ole stuff, she’d call it. She tipped the bottle, swallowing in one gulp. She wiped her mouth, then peered around as if the Kazenka police were watching.

“Ab—so–lute,” she whispered. “What would Grandma say if she knew it wasn’t Kazenka? Gotcha damn mosquito!” She huffed with dirty sweat across her forehead and a deep scratch above her eye that she’ll moan over if they make it out of the jungle alive.

Maddie followed David past enormous trees that looked like eucalyptus—but she wasn’t sure if that’s what they were.  They were bigger than any tree she’d seen in the city, and they were everywhere. Thank God the sky was clear. The stars lit patches in the midst of darkness.

David was walking at an annoyingly fast pace—Maddie was tempted to turn back but terrified by the beastly sounds that skulked in shadows—so breathlessly she tried keeping up.

             “Damn it! Does he ever think about anyone else beside himself?  Why do I stay with him, I should left him years ago. He never really loved me anyway,” stomping through shrubbery she went on in her head. “Why in hell am I thinking about this now, of all places, of all times? She tries to catch her breath. Why did I stay? I must be afraid—one of those weak women that are afraid to be alone—like mother.

 I should’ve grabbed more mini-bottles, hell, no ones going to miss them. All the damn blood—everywhere blood. Maybe it would’ve been better if I died on that plane or maybe if he would’ve…,”ashamed to finish the thought she began a quiet cry.

“Keep up Maddie. If my calculations are right, and we keep walking we can make it to the Tigris before morning, or better yet a village or town.”

“Damn it David! We’ve been walking for hours, I’m tired.” David ignored his wife and incessantly whacked away at the tangled vines with a piece of a propeller.

        Why bother, we’re going to die out here—just like the other two. She pushed the intrusive image of her husband’s boss’s mangled body hanging from the window of the small aircraft to the back of her head. She hated the man but no one deserved to die such a horrific death.

We should probably be dead by now, she whispered.

She went on in her head for another hour or so, complaining about the life she never lived, the things she tolerated and how David insisted on waiting to have children. Wait until we’re better, things are better.

“What is that? It sounds like a stream,” she said while speeding up to follow the sound. Hope began to arise as the sound of water grew closer.

David slowed as the brush of forestry tapered off coming to an end, and suddenly the jungle was behind them. When Maddie looked up, she took a step back first. Her hands now crossed over her heart and her mouth open.

A calm stream of water flowed through an open plain under a perfect sky.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, gazing, and then wiping away sweat and dust from her brow.

“Well it’s no Tigris, but I’m sure it’s fresh water. We can rest a minute, but only minute.”

Out of breath, she bent over the moonlit ripples, cupped her fingers and dipped, water slid over the sides of her hands, only leaving a sip by the time it reached her lips.

It slid down her throat and reached the pit of her stomach filling her like a satisfying meal.  A chill ran down her spine causing the fine hairs on her arms to stand at attention. She became nauseous so she settled on a huge rock. David rushed over.

“Maddie?” His hand on her hand.  She began to gag, but nothing would come up. She wished something would come up but instead she was regurgitating air.

Her eyes fixed, she stared at her husband as if she’d seen a stranger. “David,” she whispered suddenly in tears.

“What—what’s wrong?” He asked, alarmed.

She slowly wiped her mouth on the back of her hand. “I don’t know it’s like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t get it.” She looked off trying to gather her thoughts.

“Are you light headed, sick?”

“No. No—it’s not that. It’s a sense of peace I have never felt, I can’t explain…” more tears.  “I just watched as every grievance, grudge or resentment just vanished, stuff I didn’t realize I was holding on to,” she looked back at the place where she vomited air.

“Maddie you’re not making any sense.” David nodded.

“I’m so sorry, David. I said I forgave you but I hadn’t.” David’s narrow eyes trying to read her.

“The affair you had in 99.” She said.

“Maddie it’s been years since you’ve brought that up, you want to talk about it now?”

“I didn’t know how to forgive you. But I do now,” she went on—rushing the words. “I forgive it all, the lipstick on your pants, the perfumed envelope, I forgive you,” she said with a mouthful of tears. “And I forgive mother for all the drinking and screaming and for pushing Daddy away. And I can’t believe I had been holding a grudge against Jacob Dodson ever since second grade.”

“Who’s Jacob Dodson?’

“He used to live next door when I was a child,” she laughed. “He stole the last silver dollar Daddy gave me, before he left us,” Maddie’s memories continued spewing from her mouth bringing David to his knees directly in front of her.

“I hated you for so long,” sniffling. “God, I made such a mess of things when all I had to do was let go. Who would have ever thought I could experience so much peace-just by letting go.”

“Maddie, you have to calm down. Honey, it’s the shock of the crash,” he explained attentively wiping her tears.

“I’ve been holding on to so much David. Oh my God, I can’t believe this,” she looked at him with gentle wisdom. “Why didn’t I just let it go?” She reached in her bra and grabbed the last mini-bottle, snapped the top and dumped it over the rock. she straightened, then shook her head decidedly. “No-more.” she smiled.

“Honey I think you’re delusional,” David looked worried.

Suddenly it came to her, “David it’s the water, you have to drink the water,” she quickly stood, then pulled her husband to his feet.

“If it’s got you acting like this, I’m not drinking that water,” he backed away with his hands on the nap of his neck. She grabbed his arm in the way she did when trying to convince him.

“Look at me, I’m fine, better than fine. As a matter fact, I don’t remember ever feeling so much tranquility . It’s ok.”

“No Maddie that’s not okay,” he yanked away.  “We’re in the middle of the jungle, we almost lost our lives and this is where you find tranquility?  My boss and his pilot are back there under a heap of…” his voice cracks.

Maddie’s eyes pleaded, “If you love me, like I love you, you’ll drink.” He paused, took in a deep breath. Then touched by her words, David turned, reached down and pulled the water to his mouth and sucked in. Immediately he fell back to his knees, gagging and coughing—until silence gave way to the sound of crickets. Maddie fell beside him, lifted up his face, their eyes met like new lovers.

“Maddie it’s a Stream of Forgiveness,” he cried, looked into her starlit face and said,

“I love you.”

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Streams Of Forgiveness, posted December 28th, 2012

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