I sit here tonight, at my tombstone, writing this confession and apology to you. My only witness tonight was this squirrel sitting in the tree by my grave. He listened to my regret for a half-hour, before I tired of him. I wanted to be alone.
I know you believe I am a liar at best, a murderer beyond redemption at worst, but please never doubt that I love you. That is all that matters. Love conquers all.
From the moment we first met, I knew that you were the person I would spend the rest of my life with. I remember sitting beside you in the cold, dark airplane, your hand tightly clutched around mine as the thunderstorm tossed us like toys. We went from strangers to close friends in seconds. We thought we were going to die. We did not. Trial by fire, or in this case, lightning. We were meant to be together.
We were married six months later. It was a wedding to remember, with all of our favorite things. Clam chowder and pink balloons. French pastries and white doves. Beethoven and Peking duck. Your seven brothers pouring out of that lemon yellow Volkswagen Beetle like it was a clown car. Family and friends. In the end, only one thing mattered to me. You. My North Star. My Red Rose. My One True Joy.
I am so sorry. Your face when you saw me handcuffed and on the ground, our camper van ruined, tires ripped to shreds by police caltrops on that dusty, hot New Mexico roadside will never leave me. We had so many happy memories in that camper van. We made love in every nook and cranny. I knew you were horrified. I hope you understand, just as I told you the last time I spoke to you. I regret killing your lover, not because she deserved to live, but because it caused you pain. I forgave your mistake. I know you forgave mine. Let us never speak of her again.
It was nineteen years. It was long enough. I more than paid for my crime, even if the justice system did not agree. Judges and lawyers, they will destroy the world. God knows I paid. The greatest price was knowing that you had divorced me while I was in prison, and you are now married again. Loving you has cost me you.
The man they found at the river, disfigured by bee stings, his face and extremities eaten away by rats and mice, wearing the remnants of my clothes – he was not me. I escaped that prison, digging my way through the prison walls with a soapstone pick and blood and sweat and tears over the last fifteen years. I crawled through an eternity of sewage and excrement because I believe I deserve to reclaim my life and my freedom and my Red Rose.
It was a strange thing watching my own funeral from afar. I felt that the person I had been was laid to rest, his burdens set down and done with. I sit here tonight in his memory. I have poured a pint for Walter and said my goodbyes.
I am reborn. My sins are forgiven by God. I know that in your heart, you have forgiven me for everything. I know you want to be happy again.
I will see you soon Skyler. Everything will be all right. Love conquers all.
This post was written in response to this Writing Challenge from The Daily Post. I selected the third source, the noun list of The Daily Post. The nouns are highlighted in bold in the piece. “Our nouns. Choose at least five nouns from the following list and integrate them into your new piece: The balloon. The squirrel. The river. The clown car. The thunderstorm. The Peking duck. The airplane. The mouse. The red rose. The French pastry. The wedding. The tombstone. The camper van. The bee. The caltrops.”