Short Stories, Tale Africa

Redemption (Finale)

Prison Redemption
By Fungai Chigumbura, Zimbabwe:

I've been out on nights like these many times in my life. The cool air always stings when your drunk off your rocker. It's as if nature herself is slapping you in the face, caressing you with laughing fingers. I'd often wake up with a slight cold, my body worn from having to weather both my drunken stupor and the elements. I'd thought those were the lowest depths to which I could sink. Nothing could be worse than this, could it? And yet, now, I'd found a way to dig farther down than rock bottom. I'd clawed and burrowed down deeper and deeper, all the way to hell.

The baby was motionless beside me. An innocent soul caught up in all of this. But no, whatever innocence it had now the world would steal soon enough. Patrick would probably be a good father—he was good at everything—but not even he could shield this child from everything it would have to face. And all that before it'd have to deal with what it looked like. Life would not be easy for this one.

“Birth is pain, life is pain, and death is pain.” I say the words silently to myself. My father had said that to me one time when he was raining his fists down and I'd screamed that he was hurting me. The simple resignation to misery that those words carried had stuck with me ever since, and I sometimes wondered if my father was simply carrying out the mandate of whatever god existed and made this wheel of suffering.

Patrick had eased my suffering many times. I'd sometimes found myself believing that life could get better whenever he helped me out. But my die was cast and my bad blood carried me along. And now I found myself having become a burden to Patrick too. All I ever did was make things worse. I'd made them worse for my parents' marriage when I was born, worse for my girlfriend when I stole from her to buy my vices, and now worse for Patrick by ruining everything. There was no redemption for me. Not now, not ever.

If I was fated to be a ruin, then all that would save those around me was for me to disappear. I had to free Patrick of me and let him move on. I would take the burden of the child with me, and give Patrick the freedom that we'd both wanted but only he had deserved.

I start up the car and drive towards the police station. The neon sign is blazing in the dark, calling all that needed justice to come to it. I reach inside my coat, take out my worn flask, and gulp down all the liquid courage in it. It parches my throat, and I feel my whole body sear. A large tree stands across from the station, branches swaying softly in the night breeze. I turn the car towards it, and step on the accelerator as hard as I can. Patrick's car is in great condition, and it hardly strains as it picks up more and more speed. The tires screech against the asphalt as I drive faster and faster towards the tree.

Everything else turns blurry as the thick trunk comes closer and closer, looming like an unyielding monolith. I close my eyes and brace myself for the impact. I hear a few concerned shouts from people standing in front of the station, witnessing my drive to freedom. I close my eyes and see Patrick's face smiling at me as the car plows head first in the tree at full speed. We're free, brother.

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