He looked upon the broken woman before him, their places in life so incredibly different and yet they each seemed to contain the same fissure in their souls. He, a man who was the inadvertent murderer of three, and she, the intentional murderess of one. In that moment it was so terribly easy for him to understand how people could rail against the mercy this woman had demonstrated- they never had known what it was like to see suffering. To never have to endure screams of loved ones as they died painfully, slowly, knowing in your heart you could do nothing. That your very want of doing something was an act of futility. And so they were doomed to pain and you to the agony of being complicit in it.
Christopher looked upon her as she clutched the tissue in her lap, tensile strength apparent in the rigidity of her posture as she seemed to fight the inclination to curl up and weep. She was the very image of strength, compassion and, he supposed, love. A woman who wanted her love to be alive had instead sacrificed her want with the one action that could show the depth of her emotion. To honor the life by enabling the chosen death. He wanted to reach out to her, to hold her and let her know how very brave he thought she was but held back.
His clothing, tattered and pungent, weighed on him. The very idea of bringing comfort to a woman so prostrate with grief and guilt while encompassing her in a swaddling of filth turned his stomach. He reached out with his hand, so paradoxically clean, and stopped her tearing of the tissue by grasping her fingers. He felt the jerk of her hand, her body as she recoiled from him. When she brought luminous eyes to meet his own he could feel relaxation as though a warmth passed between their now clasped hands. She asked him if he now thought her a monster and he found himself giving in to his desire and bringing her into his arms.
He encircled her until her armored body began to tremble, soon giving way to sobs that shook her and in turn made him shake. It seemed as though her torment was interminable, that the tears and howling would never abate, until they very suddenly seemed to evaporate. He could hear the hitching in her breath, feel it in her ribs, and when she would have moved away he held her tighter and said: “You have done nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to warrant being called a monster- by you or anyone else. What you did for your husband was the kindest act he could have hoped for and involved a greater risk than many would have taken. No, you’re not a monster, Susan. You’re not a monster.”
Please check back on Thursday for the next installment! Of course, you’re more than welcome back tomorrow as well and check out a new weekly addition to the blog as well!