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Summary: Mr. Parker spends his final days in renewal wing, following his jump into the ocean. In his unconscious state, he receives a few parting words from Miss Parker.
"He’s completely unresponsive?"
"Yes, ma’am. There’s been no change since Mr. Lyle brought him in."
The room smelled of antiseptic and medication--of feeble attempts to cheat death.
She moved beyond the gauze curtains cautiously, unsure of what she would be met with when she reached the other side.
The nurse watched her carefully--wondering if the rumors were true. If there were emotions buried somewhere between the walls of the sterile, metal and concrete construction. Emotions that bonded people together instead of pushing them apart, as fear and hatred did.
Miss Parker moved to the bedside, gazing at the pale human spread out on the Centre-issue linens. His eyes were closed, shading her from their usual glassy, haunting presence.
Her face was calm, composed, as she studied him. She followed the tangle of wires and hoses attached to him with her eyes, visually cataloguing the purpose each of them was serving.
A heart monitor beeped intermittently in the background, following the gentle pulse of blood through his body. His breathing was shallow, laboured.
She knew it wouldn’t be long.
"I want you to know that nothing you’ve done can atone for the lies you fed me in the past," Miss Parker began evenly. "Nothing can erase the things that you did."
She paused, the sound of his hollow breathing and the electronic beep of the heart monitor filling the room once more.
The nurse shifted in the hallway, uncomfortable with the quiet.
Miss Parker resumed.
"On some levels, I will hate you for the rest of my life. But I can’t allow that hate to control me anymore." The tone of her voice remained calm, even-toned. "It’s time to let it go.
"I forgive you."
In the hallway, the nurse’s breath caught, some small bead of faith trickling through her veins.
Mr. Parker remained still, unmoving. Somewhere, deep inside of himself, he felt the full meaning of her words.
She had given him one final gift, in a lifetime where he had given her almost none. It was a gift that he did not deserve, but had craved so desperately in his last moments—wanting to know that everything he touched had not turned to darkness, hoping that it wasn’t too late to make amends.
In the lips of his daughter and in the heart of a woman he never knew, there was absolution. There was some small measure of peace for him, even if he had no entitlement to it.
His heart swelled—and stopped.
He was at peace.