“It really doesn’t matter if the person who hurt you deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. You have things to do and you want to move on.” – Real Live Preacher, RealLivePreacher.com Weblog, July 7, 2003

Rick looked at the four walls of his room. He smiled as he remembered how his girlfriend would soon be here, giving birth to his baby boy. The white walls, seemed so bland as he strained to sit up. He would have to remember to thank Matt for the bruised ribs. Rick turned to see the door creak open as Matt came in.

“Matt! Then your all right?” Rick said adjusting his position. Matt was dressed in a black jacket, a black hat, bluejeans and a white shirt. His normal casual look. The only thing out of place was the sports bag that he carried.

“Yeah, how are you holding up?” Matt asked putting down the bag and pulling a chair up.

“The doctors say all I have is bruised ribs. They say I am lucky and I say I want to bruise their ribs. I don’t think they know I am serious.” Rick smiled as Matt chuckled and looked down. Then back up with watery eyes.

“Rick, I…I am so sorry. For this, for the hassle. I mean you got a baby coming man. I shouldn’t have brought you into this.” Rick waived aside Matt’s comments.

“Matt, we are friends. Through thick or thin we gotta stick together. Friendship is a lonely job unless we tell each other about our lives. So I am having a baby and you turn into an asshole. Different strokes…” Matt smiled. “So what is the bag for?”

“I am leaving.” Matt said simply, Rick closed his eyes and shifted again.

“Matt, you can’t just run away. How will you find a cure on the road?”

“I have to leave Rick, I can’t stay here at least. My former friends are here, emotions are high and I can’t have that. Not with my condition. Being alone might be my only cure, but I can never stop looking. So I have to travel alone.” Matt stood up looking out into the morning sky.

“What about Suzanne?” Matt turned around. “Come on man, she is almost in love with you. You have to talk to her.”

“No, as long as I am like this I can’t give her hope of something more. I can’t hope for something more. I have to do this alone.”

“Matt, you don’t have to be alone. Don’t avoid the people who care about you.”

“They are the ones who are the most in danger. It is why I have to leave. I came to you to say good-bye, because you are the only one who really understands.” Rick nodded as Matt picked up his bag.

“Will I or any of us see you again?” Matt smiled.

“If I can find a way to cure myself then yes.” Rick nodded and stuck out his hand. Matt took it and after a shake they hugged each other. Matt got up and looked at Rick and smiled again.

“This will be one helluva bed time story for you kid.” Rick smiled as Matt walked out the door. Matt closed the door and slung the pack over his shoulder, going to the stairs as the elevator bleeped. Suzanne stepped out going for Rick’s room.

“Is he here?” Suzanne burst in. Rick smiled and shifted painfully.

“Nice to see you too.” Suzanne gave a wry smile. “He was here, he came to say good-bye.” Suzanne’s face began to well up with tears as she held them back and nodded.

“He…he couldn’t say it to my face.” Rick shook his head.

“He felt that with his feelings for you, there shouldn’t be a good-bye. Just a time when he would be cured and could come to you.” Smooth talking Rick, now if bonehead realizes he loves this one…your kid can call you cupid. Suzanne stepped to the window, seeing the morning rush.

“I miss him Rick, even with his faults and problems he still tried to help us with our problems.”

“Yeah, people called him distant and repressed but he was there for you if you were in a pinch.” Suzanne sat next to Rick as they looked at each other. Both of their faces told the same story, they had lost a friend. Suzanne and Rick embraced. Suzanne letting the pent up tears out, Rick barely restraining his own, telling Suzanne it was ok.

Veronica sat in Jason’s room watching him sleep. The broken leg would take awhile to heal, but the emotional wounds would take longer. Matt had cleared the air before the creature had shown up. Veronica gasped when she realized that perhaps Matt was hurt. Making sure Jason was ok, she raced out of the room to a man named Rick.

Their embrace continued as the door burst open. Veronica was gasping for breath as Suzanne stood up and Rick sat up.

“Is Matt alright?” Veronica asked through breathing.

“Yeah, he…he just is going away.” Rick said. Suzanne wiped the tears away from her red face.

“Away? To where?”

“He didn’t say…he just realizes that he needs to be alone.” Rick said simply, Suzanne cried more as Veronica sighed.

“He isn’t alone, he has us, his friends.”

“No, I didn’t understand it until now, but Matt is a person who needs to figure things out on his own. He needs to solve his own problems, and that is why he needs to be alone. That is why he is alone.” Rick said, a sadness creeping into him. Veronica felt a tear well up in her eye as Suzanne got up and looked out the window, waving good-bye.

The sun was setting on the Pacific Ocean. It’s waning rays bouncing of the reflective water. The cool beach air flowed through the sky at a gentle breeze and the sound of children and families playing brought a smile to Matt’s face.

Matt had stopped here one last time, the place he went to think. Where he could watch the sunsets and realize that each day was different. The sun going down meant the end of the day, a sigh that his various problems would one day go away as well. It gave Matt hope.

Tears of sadness welled into his eyes. It had hurt to leave Suzanne and Rick behind. Even his former friends that had hurt him, knowing he couldn’t say good-bye to them made his heart ache. The ocean lapping at families and friends. Their laughter and giddiness filling the air.

In his despair Matt realized that he had to move on, but tonight he had to do something he had never done. As tears ran down his face, after months of pent up emotion he cried. The sand catching his tears as he cried over his loss, over his friends and through the sadness he rejoiced…for even with the sadness he did not transform.

His tears absorbed into the sand, Matt got up and threw his bag over his shoulder and began to walk along the sunset. His ally through all times hard and painful, an ally that would never need him, need explaining or anything. The friend in the most purest definition. As Matt walked along the sand and the sounds of joy diminished, Matt felt the ache in his heart…turning one last time to look and then moving on…alone.

“Even in the presence of others he was completely alone.” – Robert M. Pirsig

The Monster Within Us All – Chapter 11

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