Jamin hadn’t known what to expect when he’d sat down on the bench by the fireplace and looked at his hands. His mind flew back to the night those hands had clenched onto his father’s soiled shirt collar, shoving him toward the doorway of their old shack. He’d remembered the look in his father’s eyes when Jamin shoved him so hard that the man went stumbling backward into the street, landing hard on his back. With the impact, the shock that had been there was replaced by a flash of anger, and Jamin knew that if he didn’t follow through he would regret it.
In a moment of pure adrenaline, Jamin had rushed at the prostrate figure and started kicking him with wild fury. His fists had pounded into his father’s face until blood came rushing from his nose and mouth. By the time Jamin had regained anything resembling composure, his father was clawing at the street trying to escape Jamin’s assailing rage. The last words Jamin had spoken to his father as the drunken fool hobbled into the darkness was that he would kill him if he ever returned.
The guilt and bitterness came flooding back to Jamin as he’d sat safely in their safe, new home and tried to imagine how God could forgive him for what he’d done. Almost as severe as Jamin’s spite for his father was his guilt over what he’d done in return. What son could assault his father so mercilessly and not feel this way? Jamin had realized for the first time that he was afraid that his father would never forgive him either. Even if Jamin could forgive his father, how would he ever be able to overcome the guilt of what he’d done to the man who had given him life? Somehow, even amid the brokenness of his childhood, Jamin had always known that he and his father were supposed to be friends. Other boys that Jamin had known as a child looked up to their fathers as heroes. Jamin had threatened to kill his.
He couldn’t go on like this.
Too many years of warring emotions and conflicting allegiances had brought Jamin to a breaking point. He knew now that what his mother had told him was true. He needed someone much stronger than himself to help him deal with life, or he would be trapped in a prison of hopelessness until the day he died.
Quietly in that little farm house, Jamin had prayed for the first time since he was a young child. He’d asked God to forgive him, because he believed He could. Jamin had asked God to give him the strength to forgive his father and for his father to one day forgive him. After he’d prayed, the silence of the room had returned and he felt a chill of relief rush through him. He’d looked up to see his mother standing at the door with tears pouring down from her eyes, over her cheeks, and curving around the happiest smile he’d ever seen.
For the first time in years, Jamin had felt hope. It was hope that brought him day by day thereafter to a morning in early fall, when a girl in the city market turned his world upside down all over again.
The morning was young when Nina sneaked out of the house with basket in hand, and made her way to the Saturday morning market. She loved to feel the freshness of a fall morning as the sleeping city roared to life. She loved the brightness of the fresh fruits and vegetables that lined the streets of the marketplace. She loved to listen to the banter of patrons heckling with the vendors for an acceptable price. She loved to find the most perfect piece of fruit in the whole market and munch on its juicy freshness as she bartered and shopped for the week’s goods just the way her mother…
Why did she have to keep thinking of that woman? The bitter hurt she continuously tried to swallow down kept swelling back up her throat and, once more, tears tried to fight their way to the surface, clouding her vision. She wiped them quickly and looked around for something to distract her.
Her eyes found their target, and the world seemed to stop.
She’d sought a distraction, but found an obsession. The morning sunlight caught in his rusty brown hair and glistened in his shining brown eyes. He was perfect.
Her feet moved before her mind was full engaged, and before she knew it she was approaching the produce stand behind which he was waiting. His face turned toward her, their eyes connected, and she looked into a world of mystery and wonder. Because she was speechless–and he seemed to be the same–she smiled the most winning smile she could muster and walked away, dazed. What just happened?