His oldest daughter was the Wisest. She understood her father, why he did what he did, though she was too young to see all of it. She knew he did it to prove something. To be something. To win.
The Smallest was hurt. She didn't understand. Instead, she was swept away by each ebb and flow of the tide. She was away so much she was not sure anywhere else existed, though she hoped it did. She was the one who would grow up to be just like him, seeking the same affirmation, in the same ways.
His Closest pulled her words and her story out of the air and held them too close to see, so there is nothing to tell. She doesn't breath, doesn't hope, doesn't dream. She allows no mention of it, how she felt, how she feels. She leaves no footprint, no breath, because to do so would make his actions real and she does not want that.
They sat waiting for the pot to boil. It was a rare night that he was home with them. Maybe the only night. No one knew then that was the day the wall would come down. No one knew it would come down at all. So when his friend arrived and invited him out, they knew nothing different than all the days before when he left them.
His friend had a job to do and needed help.
They walked the whole way. It was dark. He was afraid. His friend's job was to confront someone, get information from them, and kill them. He was afraid of his friend, the target, and the information. It couldn't implicate him, but it was frightening for a reason he couldn't articulate.
The conversation between the three men went like this:
Friend: You refused?
The Target: I couldn't do it. Things have changed. I have changed. I'm out.
He: You can't be out. No one gets out.
The Target: I am out.
The Target: They didn't tell you? I am a changed man. I am different.
His eyes were serene. Solemn. Resigned. He would not bend. He would not break. They could see it plainly. This was no longer the same cohort they had worked with, no longer the man who they had come to respect, no longer the man who had ordered others killed like they were about to kill him.
Friend laughed. They had told them. Now this man believed in God. Now he would not work with them. He was on his own. He was different.
Friend: You're a traitor.
He hated the Target now. How could he turn away from them? After all they'd worked for. After all they'd achieved. He would just give up now? They did not believe him about God. Who believes that? They assumed he was an ordinary traitor, one with his own reasons. It was no concern of theirs what he said now.
Friend: Do you know we will kill you?
Friend didn't really want to do it. They'd been through a lot with this man. He was their colleague. Their comrade. He had helped each of them. He'd sacrificed for them. He had given to them. And he was different now. But they didn't know why.
The Target pulled a weapon from his right side coat pocket and shocked them both when he placed it on a table instead of firing.
The Target: I won't kill you. And I want you to know I forgive you. Both of you. I forgive you and when I am dead I will pray for you at the foot of the throne.
His words were incomprehensible to them. He sounded like a madman and they killed him.
Friend: Do you think he really forgave us?
He was taken aback. It was a stupid question, one he didn't know how to answer.
He and Friend parted ways then, each heading for home. He wondered how his family was, something he didn't normally allow himself to do. And as he walked his steps drew him closer to the wall. Tall, impenetrable, protective. Something was happening on that night, however. People were gathered around. He stopped to observe the commotion. There was shouting and singing. Pieces of the great facade were being tossed, thrown to the ground. They were tearing it down!
He was caught up in it, watching but not helping. He was done helping. He thought about all he had done. He thought about forgiveness. He'd just killed someone. Someone who said he forgave him. It was unsettling. And now the wall was coming down. He hoped it meant something. He hoped he was forgiven. He stared, unblinking, and as he watched, he saw the shadow moved. It was jolted out of place, obstructed, directed, pulled. He saw that something reached out to the shadow and pulled it away and, as he watched, he hoped it would do the same for him.