Cold water was falling from the shower onto her curled body at the back of the tub and she woke, shivering and hugging herself. Melissa turned the water off and crawled out onto the bathroom floor. She paused there on all fours for a moment, remembering parts of a dream she’d just had. Broken glass, the asshole Daniels looking for his mother …a strange, old radio. She stood up, holding onto the vanity and peered into the mirror.
“Shit,” her voice was scratchy, hoarse from screaming. She cleared her throat and tried again, “Shit.” Barely audible. She wrapped herself in her robe, ignoring the scratches and bruises all over her damp skin. Falling asleep in the hot shower, there’s a first. She pulled out her coffee pot and proceeded in routine while her mind tried comprehending what had happened and what would come of it. Not every day that cops frame and… rape people. A wave of sorrowful rage washed over her as she carried the carafe full of water to its maker. It slipped from her fingers and crashed to the floor into a million pieces at her bare feet.
Officer Daniels was sitting up on the edge of his hospital bed. He’d been encouraged to walk the hallway but chose not to. He’d found her, the girl from the store …he’d found her again in his dreams. She’d hit him in his chest repeatedly when he took her in his arms. He’d told her how sorry he was, how he would do whatever it took to make it up to her, the things he’d robbed her of…he wept with her and she had finally stopped struggling against his arms. When she’d laid her head on his chest, she disappeared again.
Melissa bent down to sweep up the shattered glass off the floor and got a sudden image of herself in his arms. She instantly dropped the broom and dustpan and stood, dizzy. She closed her eyes and there he was again, consoling her. Must have been more of the dream she’d had. All at once, his voice startled her eyes open and she turned around and around, looking for him. Realizing her gun was in the bedroom, she ran for it. Her shaky hands pointed it in every direction his voice was coming from, but its sound kept moving around like a bad roller coaster. Finally, she understood his voice was in her head and it just kept repeating: “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” Her chest heaved with heavy breath as everything went dark and Melissa fainted for the second time that morning.
Their eyes met amidst a shared darkness no one could have put a price tag on. Costly and cathartic convergence birthed a carpet of unprecedented forgiveness. Both children again, trusting the dirt that was part of the road they began walking, hand in hand. She, with flowers in her hair and he, with a pocketful of toy cars — reclaiming an innocence they’d never known before.
“I know the ending is weak and fractured,” closing her laptop, she spoke to the thin, night air from the edge of her balcony, “…but isn’t that how some stories go?”