I wrote this short piece in response to something I read on Sacha Black’s blog, a sort of mass movement to write about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an easy or straightforward concept; it sometimes changes between the giving and the accepting. It isn’t an automatic solution to grief either, as I tried to show in this story.
(please imagine the image of the dead ginger cat that I have but decided not to post).
Ginger was dead. Betty wasn’t allowed to touch the broken body. She wanted to wipe away the blood smears but she was afraid of hurting the cat even more. Her father had scraped him onto an old towel and they were going to bury him in the garden. Betty watched as her father dug the hole, but more than her father, she watched the towel and the paw sticking out with the delicate pink pads. They looked so perfect and alive. She crouched down and reached out a finger to touch them, one after the other. Still soft and a bit spongy. But cold.
Mr Ritchie across the road had run over Ginger while he was backing out of his garage. He’d said sorry. He’d gone now, off to the supermarket as if nothing had happened. But he’d said sorry. Betty ought to have forgiven him because that’s what you did when people said they were sorry. But if he was sorry, why didn’t he cry like she had done? Why had he gone off to Tesco thinking about cornflakes and soap powder?
She must have been glowering because her father stopped digging and came over to give her a hug.
“It wasn’t his fault, you know. He just didn’t see Ginger in the driveway. He was very sorry about it.”
Betty said nothing. Mr Ritchie was sorry, but not sorry enough. People who are sorry enough don’t do the things that would make them sorry. She looked at the towel and the very slight hump that the squashed cat made inside it. She looked at the beautiful pink pads and she sobbed. Mr Ritchie was sorry. But Ginger was still dead.