Six Months After
The friends sat in the shade of the café. It had been a while since they had sat together like now. They had been very busy with their studies and affairs. The gathering reminded them of the one who was absent and gone forever. Their faces were sad and forlorn as they remembered the loss of a good friend. The day of the sit-in had started out well but then they had lost one of their own, their friend, to the struggle. Eliot had chosen to give up his life for the blacks and he would be sorely missed.
They would never forget that day. Maria had had such a look of shock on her face. She could not believe the fact that Eliot had shielded them from the assault of those guys. He took all the beatings and had urged them to keep fighting even to his death. His parents had lost another child but from the look of pride that they had all seen on their faces the day of the funeral, they knew that they were not going to relegate to the way they had been when they had lost Elliana, Eliot’s twin.
The friends had seen their faces and they knew they were stronger. They had held on to Claire so firmly, never letting her go through out the duration of the entire mass.
“I miss Eliot, guys,” Rachel said sadly.
“Yeah, we all miss him too,” Nathan said.
“Okay guys, we have got to stop this sulking and feeling sorry. We all know Eliot all too well, and we know full well that he would want us to make merry and be happy. We are proud of his actions. He left something behind, he chose to defend his friends and stand for what he believed in. What we should be doing is giving a toast for his great sacrifice not mourning his exit from this world. It’s been what, six months? Come on, we should be happy,” Paul cheered all of them up.
“Yeah, you are right about that. After all, he was a party animal and not a sulker.” They all laughed at the statement.
Just then, someone knocked on the glass window behind them. Paul looked out and smiled. He waved his hands, waving whoever it was into the café. A few seconds later, a brown haired girl with big brown eyes approached them. As soon as he saw her, Elijah was hooked. When she got to them, Paul hugged her. Kate did as well.
“Everyone, meet my little sister, Cassandra. Cassie, meet my friends, Nate and his girlfriend, Rachel, Steve and Maria, they are twins and Elijah. He is single.” At that, Elijah threw a fry at his friend. He smiled at Cassandra and shook her hand.
“It’s nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Cassandra smiled back.
The waitress came and took Cassandra’s order.
“So, did you just get into the college?” Steve asked Cassandra.
“No silly.” Maria hit her brother on the head.
“Ouch,” he frowned at her.
“You deserved that silly. She is going to be joining us girls in the apartment. Remember when I told you that we are going to be four now?”
“Oh yea, that’s true,” Steve nodded. “Still, that was not reason enough to hit my head.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s true. Paul mentioned that there was a fire at your dormitory a while ago. I hope you did not lose anyone close to you or anything important?” Elijah asked.
Cassandra smiled at him and shook her head, “No, I didn’t. At first, I was scared that something like that happened but I am happy to say that it all turned out good.”
“Well… that’s great.”
The waitress brought the new tray of food and for a while, they all ate in comfortable silence. As short while later, the table was agog with happy chatter. Everyone but Elijah was laughing and talking loudly.
“Elijah, what’s wrong? Are you still thinking about Eliot?” Nathan asked Elijah.
Elijah shook his head lightly, “No, it is not about Eliot.”
“Then, what is it, man? You have been looking at the clock ever since we came in here, like you are waiting for something or someone, Paul told him. “What are you not telling us?”
Seven pairs of concerned eyes looked at him, waiting for his reply.
Elijah looked up at the clock one more time and then he stood up. He picked up his knapsack which had been at the foot of the table. “Uh… I have got to go guys,”
“Are you okay, Elijah?” Nathan asked his friend. It was obvious that something was not right somewhere. “Did something happen?”
“It’s, it’s my father,” Elijah said it quickly and took a deep breath into his lungs to calm his nerves.
“What about your father? Did something happen to him? Talk to us, Elijah, will you?”
“He… he has been on death row for the past twelve years,” Elijah let out.
“Oh, Eli…” Maria gasped. Everyone else did not say anything but their faces mirrored the same sorrowful look that Maria had on her face.
“Yeah, well, he killed my mother in the presence of my elder brothers and I. I got a letter last week from him, the first ever I have received since he went in, the execution date has been fixed. It is today, by six pm.,” Elijah finished.
“And he wants to see you and your brothers before he goes, I presume,” Cassandra said. Elijah nodded.
“I have to get going, guys. Please, do not be sad on account of me.”
“Do you need a ride, Elijah? I can…” Nathan started saying.
’No. But thanks anyway.” Elijah turned around and walked away with his head lowered.
His friends could feel his pain and they felt sad because there was absolutely nothing they could do to help make him feel better.
Elijah shook his head impatiently as he waited for his father to be brought out. He looked around the room. It had white washed walls and metal, rusting tables and chairs. In the middle of the table was a rectangular hole and a hook was under it. Probably to chain prisoners to the table, he shrugged. He and never been here in the past twelve years since it happened.
Elijah placed his head on the table. It was cool to the touch. He honestly did not want to spend longer time than he should in this drab place.
“Elijah?” Elijah’s head shot up when he heard a voice. His eyes widened. It was his oldest brother, Raymond. The two men hugged each other.
“It has been so long, brother. How are you?” Raymond asked his little brother.
Elijah looked at his brother and then he shook his head. “Why didn’t you ever look for me, brother? Not once did you try to find me and…”
“I am so sorry brother. I thought that you would be okay, I could not do anything back then when they separated us so I assumed that you were happier with your new family and did not want anything to do with the past.”
“That’s not true, brother. I love you guys and not a day has passed that I have not wondered about your welfare and what has been going on in your lives,” Elijah told his brother.
“I am so very sorry, bro.” Raymond hugged him again. The door opened just then and the twins stepped in. The four brothers hugged each other.
“We have so much to catch up on,” Stan, one half of the twins said. “When we are done here, we should go get some dinner. What do you say?”
The other brothers nodded. Everyone agreed on that. They had a whole lot to talk about; there was no doubt about it. As they were laughing and talking, the door opened again and a chained man in a jumpsuit was brought in by two uniformed guards. At once, there was silence. He was chained to the table by the guards and the two men stood on either side of the wall, close enough within hearing reach.
“Hello my sons. I am glad to see that you all turned out so well,” the man in front of them said. He was their father alright but the twelve years he had spent in jail had aged him so much as well as sobered him. The boys could not even remember a time before the incident when he had been sober. His facial hair and the hair on his head was matted and specked with strands of grey already. “I am truly sorry that your mother and I could not give you four a good home, the home that you all deserved. It was not your fault, it was no one’s fault but ours.”
Their father coughed and in that second, all that could be heard was his cough as it wracked his body. “Do not, I repeat, do not ever blame yourselves for the mistake that your mother and I made. Never be like us, sons. We let the love that we had for each other change to anger. And after a while, we let that anger consume us. It changed to poison in our hearts and it became hate. You never be like us. Be the parents to your kids that we never were to you. Do not let us rule your lives whether subconsciously or otherwise.”
The man stretched out his hands to them, as far as it could go with the chain around it. “I am truly sorry, my boys. I have no excuse for all I did, for all we did. I can only hope that the four of you had and have good lives, the kind of lives that your mother and I could never give you. I can only hope that someday, you find a place in your hearts to forgive me, to forgive us your parents for all the pain that we caused you.”
One by one, the hands of each of the boy covered their father’s. First Raymond, then, the twins and Elijah, with tears in his eyes, he covered them as well.
“We forgive you, father,” Elijah whispered and his brothers nodded in agreement. The four boys hugged their father tight and he tried to hold them as well. Then, the guards came forward. It was time. The end had arrived.
“I love you, my boys, so very much. I may not have shown it enough but I did. We did.” He touched their faces.
“We love you too, father,” the four boys said in unison.
They all walked out of the room and followed the guards to the execution room. They watched with tears in their eyes as he was strapped to the electric chair. The lever was pushed and with pain and sorrow in their hearts, they watched the man who had birthed them writhe in pain as the current passed through him. He was being killed for killing the woman he had promised to love for the rest of his life.
He was pronounced dead and the brothers turned away. They needed each other right now and they were glad that they were together. More importantly, they were glad that they had forgiven their father. The brothers stepped out of the building and Raymond pointed at his car.
They all sat in it and he drove them to an apartment complex. They all alighted the car.
“I thought we were going to get some grub, brother,” Felix, the younger half of the twins said.
“Oh, we are. This is where I stay, brothers. I am a very good cook, if I dare say so myself. Come on,” Raymond called them as he led the way.
He opened the door into a large apartment and immediately he got in, he headed straight for the kitchen. He washed his hands and stepped out to find his brothers making themselves comfortable, they were reclining on settees and Stan had slipped a coin into the jukebox that was against the wall.
“Does anyone of you know how to use a pot?” he asked his brothers and they all gave him blank looks.
“I can make tea and biscuits,” Elijah offered. Raymond waved for him to join him.
“At least you know your way a little around the kitchen.” The twins laughed and Elijah threw the nearest cushion at them as he walked into the kitchen.
About an hour later, the meal was ready and the brothers sat down to enjoy a dinner of pot roast. After the meal, they sat down in front of the television and watched the game together, followed by movies. The brothers did a lot of catching up and it was finally by 3 am that they all slept off in Raymond’s living room, the television blaring on.