The streets of the city were torture to walk through. Everything reminded me of my wife and child, the victims of my warped mind. Every noise brought back a memory that I wish I could forget. but knew that I didn't want to.
The others had been very clear about where they wanted me. They wanted me anywhere but near them, and Carl had been the one to make it the clearest. I winced as I lightly touched my bruised face. I deserved their scorn; I deserved more than I'd gotten.
"Sir, are you alright?" It was a young nun that had just walked from a nearby church.
"I'll never be okay, Sister. Better you just leave me alone.", I continued walking.
"God can help." She caught up to me and grabbed my sleeve, "Come inside and talk to me."
"God . . . ", my mind settled back on the memories of Hell. I could almost feel the amounts of pain I had endured again as I remembered the whips and brands, "God has no place for me. I've done so much. I've ruined so many lives. I destroyed people I care about just to feel better."
"They'll forgive you, and so will God." She put her hand on my shoulder, halting me.
"What if some of them can't forgive me?" I fell to the steps of the church and put my face in my hands, "Not long ago, this didn't bother me. I used to be able to forget about the guilt. I could ignore the pain."
She sat down next to me.
"But I can't anymore. Now the guilt and pain floods my soul, it reminds me of their faces and compares them to better times. A constant reminder that I did it to them and that I can never go back. I can never undo what I did. Forever I'll be haunted by this pain."
"That's part of the glory of being human. God gave us guilt so we could learn how to treat others." She turned my face toward hers, "Maybe God gave you back your guilt so you can return to him; so you can stop treating others the way you have."
"Sister, I don't mean to be rude, but if there was a God than he'd have done something already. The only person that gave me back my guilt was myself. Don't talk as though you understand! You've never killed anyone."
She paused as though not sure what to say. She smiled and grasped my hand while standing, "Come inside with me. Maybe I can show you God's forgiveness and help you move on."
I was pulled to my feet and directed to the front doors. I hesitated before stepping over the threshold, because I was scared of being smote for entering God's house.
The doors closed behind me and the young nun turned to me, "I am Sister Victoria, and I'd like to welcome you to The Hicks Church of Christ."
Something told me this was a bad idea, but I was desperate. I needed to get rid of this pain that filled me. I pushed the feeling aside and followed Sister Victoria deeper in to the church.