He pointed it into the distance ahead of him and fingered the rocker switch on. A beam of light appeared and funneled out to a round illumination hundreds of feet in front of them. In its glow He saw the dark images begin to illuminate. First he saw an empty double-car garage, gloomy with shadows, with its pale wood trusses exposed over a grimy concrete floor. As he got closer something that looked like a duffel bag appeared, limp and lifeless hanging from a cross beam. As he played the flashlight’s beam over the scene, it seemed to zoom in like a video camera. Suddenly his face flushed, and then his entire body instantly tensed with the sickening rush of adrenaline.
The shapeless bag-like thing hanging from the rafters was a man’s body. A scarf was knotted tightly around the neck and stretched a short distance to the beam. Chris flicked the beam again, and the light zoomed in on the shadowed face. It was canted at an unnatural angle.
The face was his.
He slumped down onto the rock slab, breathing heavily. He grasped his neckerchief and fumbled with the loose knot but only made it tighter. “It… was… me. I… took my own life.”
He was seized with the panic that accompanies terrible revelation. Suddenly every moment, every thought, every feeling that had brought him to the wooden beam was now being revisited on him. The darkness in his soul was suffocating. Yet even this gave way to a greater terror. There was no sympathy, no self-pitying to hide behind. He saw, he knew, in a blindingly bright moment of self-awareness that the taking of his own life had been act of God-defiance. In doing so he had told God “No! I refuse the gift, and the responsibility of the life you have given me. This unique, miraculous, ingenious, spectacular creation of yours, I choose now to destroy. I refuse to trust you to help me understand it, to make it meaningful, to even get through it. I reject. I defy. I abandon. I… I.”
The flashlight fell from his hands, the mechanism’s delicate glass shattering in a hundred pieces. The vision of horror was instantly gone.
Chris lay on the stone in the arms of his friends. A sorrow and regret beyond description permeated very part of his being. He tried to speak but couldn’t. He wanted to say, “I’m sorry,” but he couldn’t make his voice to work.
The Mister tightened his hug around Chris’s shoulder and said quietly “We know you are sorry, Christopher. He knows you are. He knew you would be. And He forgave you for even this, so very long ago.”
The Missus worked the knot loose of Chris’s neckerchief and gently removed it. The pale skin was ringed in red; a scar that The Missus very soothingly stroked. In the starlight, the three of them wept.
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