Three Rivers 23.1

Twenty-third Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

AN: Alysia Vela and her boyfriend, Herbert Frederick, are game-generated Townies. Alysia’s beautiful home was built and decorated by the amazing TheKalinotr0n.

23.  Forgiveness

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One morning, Alysia Vela realized that she was ready to let it go. She had so much: a beautiful home, a cheerful boyfriend, a job she loved. She didn’t need to harbor that grief any longer. She could move on.

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It would be like washing dishes, she thought. She would let it all flow away. What would it be like to be shiny and white inside again, pure!

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She headed off to work resolved–she’d find a way, finally, to get past that old hurt. She had to. It was costing her too much.

In the breakroom, she remembered the scene with Herbert last night.

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He’d stayed the night, as he often did when he dropped by after work. She yelled at him over nothing. What was going on with her?

All she knew was that she felt this ickiness inside and when it got too thick the pressure was too intense and yelling released it.

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He forgave her, like always. But how much longer would he go on doing that?

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“No harm, no foul,” Herbert said.

And she felt nearly crushed with relief and gratitude. And guilt.

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She thought of what Hank, her friend and one of the nurses here at the clinic, said to her. “What’s the big deal about forgiveness? It levels the field. It means that you’re not the supreme being–you’re the human being, just like all the other human beings, each one capable of hurting the next, intentionally or not.”

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If there was anyone she knew who knew about forgiveness, it was Hank.

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“If you knew half of what I’d done,” he said, “you’d wonder if I’d ever get to make it through step 8. I got a lifetime of amends to make.”

“You don’t have any amends to make to me!” Alysia said.

“Just wait, darling,” Hank joked back.

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She’d seen him lose it.

There were times at the clinic when something triggered him, and he’d let loose with the worst profanity she’d ever heard.

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And then, two beats later, he’d be apologizing and asking for forgiveness.

“This isn’t really the way it’s supposed to work,” he said once. “I’m actually supposed to make real and lasting change–that’s what amends are all about. But, heck. I’ve learned I’m a work in progress.”

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When she got home from the clinic, Herbert was there.

“Hey, babe,” she said. “Staying for supper?”

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“Sure,” he said. “And longer?”

“Why do you even want to be around me?” she asked. “I mean, after yesterday. I was awful.”

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“You were just feeling tense,” Herbert said. “It’s no big deal. No harm done.”

“But how do you know I won’t blow up again?” she said, and she heard her voice go shrill.

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“It’s no big deal,” he said. “I’m not porcelain. If you blow it, I won’t break. You’ll just apologize. I’ll just forgive you.”

“It can’t be that easy,” she said.

“I don’t see why not,” said Herbert.

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He turned back to his game.

A person don’t just forgive like that, Alysia thought. If that were even possible, I wouldn’t feel like this inside.

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She headed out for a walk before making supper.

If a person could just forgive like that, just by willing it, then she would have forgiven Jason a long time ago.

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She pulled out her phone to look again through the messages he’d sent her.

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She found the first one she’d sent him. “I’ve always wanted to thank you,” she’d written.

Jason had been her first boyfriend. After they split up at the end of high school, so she could go to college and he could join the marines, she often thought of him with gratitude. He’d been so sweet, never pushing her to go too far–or rather, pushing her right up to, but not past, her final limits. And he’d taught her everything–how to kiss, and so much more. It had all been sweet, and she’d carried that sweetness with her into all the relationships that followed. So when years later she found his facebook page, she felt grateful that she would finally have a chance to thank him.

She hadn’t anticipated his response.

“Alysia, to hear from you again, even after all these years, it’s opening up something in me I thought was shut forever. I’ve had to do some bad things when I was in service. And I thought a part of me was gone forever, but hearing from you, it reminds me of who I was. I’m still that good person inside.”

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She should really delete these messages.

She found the one that always got her.

“You know how it feels when you walk under redwoods, babe? And you look up through those towering branches and see that sky up through them? And your heart opens and sighs and you feel like there might just be a God after all? You are all that to me and more. What I feel when I think of you, my heart gets so soft. It’s more than God, more than nature, it’s everything.”

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How could he have written that?

He was married. She wasn’t the type of woman who would do that to another woman. That’s what she always believed. Never would she take another woman’s husband.

But this was Jason, and they went back to high school, and she’d been his first love, and he was hers, and it was all so stupid and sordid.

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She didn’t leave it at thank you and keep going. He’d responded with love, and she found her own love for him was like a lotus flower, open and undeniable.

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They kept seeing each other. She told herself that love was what was important, more important than Jason’s marriage.

She was so addicted to him. Her body hurt when he wasn’t around, and when he was, she couldn’t get enough. She would hold his legs or his arms as he tried to get out of bed. She remembered weeping while he dressed.

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And still, they loved each other.

“You’re kicking me to the curb,” she told him after he said he couldn’t see her anymore.

“No way,” he replied. “It’s more like I’m tucking you so deep inside of me that you’ll always be there. You’re more a part of me than I am. And you’ve taught me love, what it is and how to use it. I want to take this love, and I want to share it with my wife, I want to share it with my daughter, with people in the community who need help. I want to do everything good in the world, and it’s because of you. It’s because you showed me again what love is, so now that I know, I got to use love to do the good things.”

And that was the last she heard from him.

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When she got back home, she went straight to Herbert.

“What if you found out I’d done something really, really bad?” she asked him.

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“It couldn’t change anything,” he said. “Nothing can touch the way I feel about you.”

“Even if I were an axe murderer?” she joked.

“Well, then,” he said, “I think we might want to get rid of the wood-burning stove so there’d be no need to chop wood.”

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“You look tired, sweetie,” he said. “How about you take a nap while I fix supper?”

While she slept, she felt all the years drip off of her. She was a little girl again, sleeping on her Nina’s sofa, and she was the child that the old ones called “angel.” She was filled with goodness.

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Before bed, she and Herbert sat by the pool.

“I have to tell you something,” she said. “I did something bad. It’s inside of me like a hairball, and if I don’t cough it up, I’m gonna keep having these fits and attacking you, and it’s just not fair to you or to us.”

“You can tell me anything,” he said.

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“So you know how I sometimes talk about my ex?” she said. “Well, it wasn’t really a good thing. I mean, he’s a good man, but the thing wasn’t good. It was an affair. I had an affair with a married man.”

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He looked shocked.

“That’s who I am!” she said. “I’m a woman who’ll mess around with a married man!”

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“Nothing’s that simple,” he said. “There’s got to be more to it.”

So she told him the story, about the first loves, and the marines, and the reuniting, and the rediscovering of who they were back when they were innocents.

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“It sounds sweet,” he said. “He went back to his wife, right?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Then no harm done!”

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She couldn’t believe him. He wasn’t angry at her. He didn’t think she was a slut. He found something redeeming in the whole story. Maybe it hadn’t been sordid, after all. Maybe, just like she thought at the time, it had been love, and because it was love, and because love is good, goodness came out of it in the end.

What kind of sweet world did Herbert live in, and was there room in that world for her?

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She felt happy the next morning. She felt light.

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While Herbert slept in, she fixed fancy grilled cheese for breakfast.

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Suppose there was such goodness in the world. Suppose that all you had to do was forgive.

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That evening, after Herbert went back to his own place, she wrote a letter she would never send.

She let it all out, all her deep-seated anger that Jason chose his wife, over her. All her shame that she was even with him, at all. All her fury at getting addicted to him. All her pain when he left.

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When she finished the letter, she hit “Delete.”

Then, she opened her email, opened the folder called Jason<3, selected every message, and hit delete. She went into her sent mail, selected every message she had ever sent, and hit delete.

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She went to the deleted messages folder, selected all 1,313 messages. She hit delete. It was done.

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She walked outside in the evening air.

It was pure out here, with cool fresh air.

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Could it be that simple? And if the complications rose again, could she somehow find a way to also make it simple, once again?

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