“You can’t just delete people from your life. It is not that simple Anna”, Jacob was furious.
“I can and I have.”
“Look Anna we know, we understand your anger”, Marya said trying to calm the air between her friend and her husband.
“Really, you do? You are the most selfish people I have ever come across my life. You are the last ones to teach me moral lessons in life. So cut it out, doesn’t suit you guys.”
The air was getting tenser and I had no idea what to do or say or how to act among them. Anna was my wife, but I had never seen her flare up like that, let alone being so mean, dismissive and rude all at the same time. While her friends were trying to calm her down, I just turned into a mute spectator watching and trying to understand how everything being said fit in with what Anna had told me about her friends we met last week in the mall.
“What do you want us to do, just because you are not mature enough to understand that two people in love don’t care about anything or anyone else.”
“You are calling me immature, wow! Just listen to yourself for God’s sake. Two people in love turned blind 15 years ago and the consequences are still being paid by certain other people in life. Very mature indeed. Bravo! How do you guys manage to look at yourself everyday.”
Anna was turning red, she was sarcastic, aggressive and if I didn’t know her better , she might have thrown something into Jacob’s face.
“Look Anna, it has been 15 years…” Jacob said.
“Jacob, please, you are not helping”, Marya said.
“Really, you are taking her side, my wife, after all she is saying. She is not blaming just me, but both of us Marya, can’t you see that or are you still crazy about your so called best friend.”
“She was the best friend I had. It is just a misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding, say what. Are you guys honestly this selfish or are you guys still blinded by love not to be seeing the damage you guys wrecked upon all of us.”
“It was an accident for crying out loud! What happened wasn’t our fault. It had nothing to do with us. It would have happened whether or not we had run away”, Jacob almost shouted at her.
“An accident that I witnessed, Anna replied in a small voice. I saw the whole thing happen in a jiffy while I stood petrified at the gate waiting for it to be a nightmare, waiting to be awakened from the slumbers of my sleep.”
“I can still hear the explosion when the car hit them head on. I remember the sound of Chase’s camera as it slipped out of his hands and smashed onto the rock between us. I remember seeing his face, the moonlit face of the man who loved me the most, perhaps more than anyone else ever would, smeared in blood and glass. I can still see him diving in front of his wife, and the baby that was soon to be born.”
“Then I saw him seeing me, waiting for them to be home. I read goodbye in his eyes, a kiss he sent my way before the car burst up in flames. In a matter of minutes my world turned upside down.”
Anna buried her face into her hands. Jacob and Marya were in tears.
“Yes, you are right. It was an accident, one that changed the entire course of my life. It took people I loved away from me. It changed the people around me. It turned friends into foes. Families ripped apart. Friendships were broken. It changed everyone and everything.”
The hurt in her voice choked the air inside me. I turned to see a stream of big tears rolling down her face.
“For once, both of them went quiet on her, eyes down, while Anna just looked at little Anna playing in the play area of the restaurant. Nobody spoke for a while.”
“We are sorry, Ann, Jacob said at last. We are, we know what we did affected you the most, in ways that was unpredictable at that time. If we had any idea what was to follow after we went away, we would have never done it.”
“We swear on God Ann, had we known what was to come, we would have never even thought of eloping. It seemed the easy way out at that time, seeing that our parents were not giving in to our marriage. We were but fifteen at that time, we didn’t think of anything else but ourselves.”
“I am sorry, we both are. Won’t you ever forgive us?” Marya said between tears.
“I have already forgiven you guys. Not for your sake but for my own sanity, Anna replied. Also, when I think about it, it was not something you could have anticipated, none of us could. But your running away triggered everything, you are the reason that that psycho hit them head on.”
“Anna please……..”, Jacob insisted.
“He got what he deserved. Don’t make me feel guilty about it. I am not, nor will I ever be. He might be your cousin, he is nothing to me, not from that day. He is dead to me. Nothing is going to compel me to make amends with him. Our families hushed the whole thing up as an accident. But I know, you both know, we all know it wasn’t. It wasn’t an accident. He might not have meant to kill them, but he certainly intended to harm them in his fit of misplaced anger.”
“He was fifteen Ann, as gullible as us”, Jacob replied.
“He is sick Anna”, Marya said quietly. “Terminal”.
Anna said nothing.
“He wants to meet you”.
“Not happening”, she replied curtly.
“It is his last wish. His dying wish, if you may”, Jacob said.
“So thats why you are here. To fulfill his last wish.”
“Yes. Anna he lived all his life in redemption. The guilt was too much for him. You know how is life went after that. You know how many times he was in and out of rehab. It was a huge mistake Ann, even on his part. You know him, you knew him before that day. You know how he was. He was never evil, Ann, just that he didn’t know what he was doing.”
“Ann, it is good to forgive others, you said you have forgiven us and I believe you. Else I know you would have never met us today.”
“Then you also know that nothing in this world would convince me to meet him, even it be his dying wish, I don’t want to grant him that. I will not forgive him for what he did.”
“Please Anna, you are the only one who hasn’t made peace with him. Everyone else has and it is killing him.”
“I don’t want him to die in peace. I want him to die in the same agony that I felt, that I witnessed on the face of Joseph….”
“Ann, how can you be so cruel,” Marya interrupted her.
“Neil, can you please. …”Joseph began.
“Darling, I love you more than anyone else in the world. But I will never meet him. Please don’t force me into it.”
She didn’t even wait for my reply, she just walked towards the play area and stroked Anna’s hair.