That Night

The man had sins to confess. We in the room told him we would listen. He had written what he wanted to say. He talked about what happened when he was young. How his glass got shattered.

He then said what he had done. All the lies, secrets, sins he’d thought he’d be buried with. That he was already buried under.

The paper was shaking in his hands. He had a hard time looking up. He wasn’t a criminal but felt like one. He had deceived many, hurt some. He had cut a hole into himself down which he had disappeared. Now he was crawling back out.

He finished. He looked up, trembling.

What he’d said sat in the middle of the room. We stared at it, marveled at the twisted trunk of truth.

“You just unloaded something awful heavy,” someone said. “When you leave tonight, you don’t need to take it with you.”

The man winced as though struck suddenly with a stick. Then his eyes softened and he wept. Not all the pain was gone but some, somehow shouldered by others who noticed less its weight. We each took a piece and put it on the shelf beside our own fractured bits and left the room.