To forgive a monster

Helen Huang, Newbie Reporter

They say you can’t be happy unless you can forgive.

I say you can’t be happy unless there’s no more need to forgive.

After all, forgiveness is useless to a dead person.

This is what I repeat to myself over and over again as I perch on a window ledge and watch my target move around the castle. The words rumble in my head, howling with the wind and thunder of the storm whipping my face. They are ominously grim. In another place, in another time, I would be frightened of these thoughts of mine. Not tonight, though. Not with this man. I can’t afford to be afraid now.

The sky crackles. I lift my rain-soaked face to see black thunderclouds release a bolt of lightning. It hits a tree in the distance. I shield my eyes, gripping my dagger with one hand as I clutch the ledge with the other. When I open them again, the tree is burning even as the heavens cry heavy raindrops. I press my lips into a thin line. The orange of the fire reminds me of my target’s irises. They had burned as fiercely as this tree when he slaughtered my parents.

Something flickers at the corner of my eye. I glance through the glass of the window, then stiffen. I crouch back, hide in the shadows. My target is approaching. His leather cavalry boots tread on the stone tiles. A velvet cloak lined with ermine drapes over his shoulders. Has he spotted me? For a moment I am apprehensive–and then I relax. I have trained and bled and sweated five years for this. My reflexes are quick, my aim true. I could easily end him if I wished.

But it’s not time yet. No, I need a few more seconds.

He is coming closer. I can’t see him anymore–the rain and the stormy gloom hinder my vision–but I can smell him, even through a granite wall. I have remembered the fragrance that his skin exudes. It is sickly sweet. There is a flicker of golden light inside the room. Orange flame dancers rise up from the chilly blackness, laughing and twirling and grinning. They mock me, bewitch me with their insane smiles. I stare at them with a hardened gaze. My target must have lit a candle.

Breathing evenly, I stand up and slowly inch sideways, making my movements as smooth and fluid as possible, careful to balance on the slippery ledge. I can’t hear anything except the thunderstorm. The shadows envelope me, caress me with their soothing darkness. I make it to the very edge of the windowpane and pause. I bring my blade to eye level and observe it. Pearls of rainfall skid down the silver metal–the wickedly sharp tip–the leather handle stained with the blood of both enemies and friends, known and unknown.

Then I narrow my eyes. A cold shell of rock encases what’s left of my heart.

I swore an oath when I stole this dagger from the monster inside this castle. I promised to be strong. I promised to bring justice. I promised to inflict on this monster the fate which he had inflicted on my parents and so many others.

But most of all, I promised to never, ever forgive.

Because if I do forgive, there will no longer be any reason for me to exist in my shattered world.

I will fulfill my oath. No matter what happens, I will.