Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is “be”, either as it is or as part of another word. And since my CP “gave me permission” to ignore everything else yesterday and work on plotting a story that wasn’t supposed to be worked on yet(already have all the brainstorming done now), I’ll be diving a bit more into that with today’s. I do so love writing characters who have checkered pasts.
Carlos stared at the woman across the table from him. He couldn’t believe she was here. Sure, he’d caught glimpses of her over the years, but she’d never come into his place before. And she’d said she wanted to speak to him. What could she have to say to him?
He didn’t think they’d spoken since Adriane’s funeral.
“What can I do for you, Tereza?” he finally asked. How did his voice sound so smooth when everything felt so ragged inside.
“I needed…I needed someone to talk to.”
“Don’t you have friends for that? I’m sure you have plenty of them. You always did.”
“I have friends from law school. And I have colleagues at the firm. None of them know me from…”
“Before?” he asked softly. “When you were just a street kid like the rest of us.”
“Yeah.” her voice was quiet, barely more than a whisper.
Carlos reached out and set a scarred finger under her chin, lifting it so she had to look at him. And he swathe guilt and shame in her eyes. “What is this? You have nothing to be ashamed of. You survived, Reza. We all did. Not everyone was so lucky.”
“And I got swept away from it all, adopted by the Pella family, given everything could want. None of you were that lucky.”
Carlos rolled his eyes and leaned back in the chair. “So, you feel guilty for your good fortune?” He let out a stream of Spanish at that, and she narrowed her eyes.
“I am not stupid, Carlos, nor am I a fool.”
“Then, stop acting like one. What is this really about?”
She twisted her fingers together then let them drop again. “You’ve done things that never should be forgiven.”
He closed his eyes at that. Fifteen years and he still hadn’t completely shut those years away. He wished he could totally erase them. Unfortunately, that would never happen. “And I haven’t forgiven myself for them. I know others haven’t, either.”
“So, there’s no way to redeem yourself for past sins?”
His eyes snapped back to hers at that. “Not for some things. What have you ever done that you’d need redemption for, though?”
“My job. And because of it, someone died. A man I helped get free went out and killed the woman who was going to testify against him. And it’s my fault.”
He reached across and took her hand. “You know better than that. You didn’t make him do anything.” It had been so long since he’d touched her. Her skin felt like silk against his rough hand. He had to close his eyes against the reaction that rose up in him.
“I wish I could make myself believe that.”