Stories from Refuge – 14 – “I don’t know who to forgive.”

(c) Stryjek |

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-13, dialogue between G.A. and Tara Johnson, recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.5.15

I don’t know who to forgive. When my son was killed he was in Sec 13, after hours, like he shouldn’t have been. I’m surprised they even came to my door to tell me, one of the Commanders. I couldn’t see his face through the helmet. I don’t even know if he was the one who gave the order. It would have been one of the robots that actually did it, of course. Medical notified me when the examiner’s report was done and I could come look at it, but I didn’t. I was scared to know just how they’d killed him. But it keeps me up every night, wondering. Everything I imagine they did to him.

I should have just looked at the report.

His father, he couldn’t handle it. They did that to his boy and he never slept again, not really. He couldn’t talk most of the time, and when he did he was either shouting or too choked up to get more than a few words out. Once he tried to smile at something, I don’t even remember what, a song on the speakers or something, a song we used to dance to. But the minute that smile got to his face he pushed it out again. He couldn’t let himself get over it. Six months later he died of a heart attack. I’m just glad he went fast, once he did.

So they’re gone and the man who gave the orders to kill my son is gone and I don’t know what to do now. I walk past the tunnel at the end of Section 20, where the stairs go up to the airlock, and I try to throw forgiveness up there. I walk past the junction to Sec 3 and I try to send it to the bots where they’re in storage, but I don’t suppose that does any good. I guess I could forgive this woman, since she’s here, but she didn’t really have a choice, she just had to do her job, I suppose. Do you have kids, honey? No? That’s probably for the best. But maybe it’ll be different now. Maybe you can forgive the people who gave you your orders for me, and that’ll be good enough.

[Recorder’s note: Tara Johnson did not speak until subject left the room.]

I didn’t know what to say. Was I supposed to say something? I knew this wasn’t really about me. I just wanted to come back and do it again, so I didn’t get too scared to do it.

©2016 Michelle M. Welch

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