Nisa Dithers is left broken when her younger brother is involved in a tragic accident. Affected by the tragedy more than she cares to admit, her life becomes an echo of what she’d planned it to be. Her dismal existence is interrupted when a man she doesn’t even know, steals a kiss.
Trent has done everything in his power to right the wrongs he’s done in his life, but he’ll never atone in his eyes. Yet, just a moment in Nisa’s presence has him dismissing his failures. Stealing a kiss is just the beginning. For the first time in a long time, Trent is looking forward to tomorrow.
Absolve is a short story of living with the pain of loss and accepting the beauty of forgiveness.
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A Single Moment
Nisandra Dithers couldn’t help smiling at her family and friends seated around the long table at Stackers, a nice family restaurant where she once waitressed. She and her former coworkers had joined together four regular tables to accommodate everyone in her party. Fondly looking at them, she found herself thinking that they were a nice group, the kind of customers Nisa would enjoy serving if she were waiting tables tonight.
“Well, I for one don’t like the idea of her going to a college so far away.”
“We all know you’re old Fritz; you don’t need to open your mouth with nonsense to prove it.” Aunt Helena teased him as she winked at Nisa from a few seats away.
Nisa looked over at her mother, who sat just to the left of her. She knew it was going to be hard for the both of them when she left for college in the fall. They were so close; tied at the hip everyone always said. Nisa didn’t think she’d ever gone a full day without seeing her mom’s beautiful smile. That same smile comforted her now as her mother gave her hand a gentle squeeze under the table.
“Nisa will be just fine, Fritz. We’ve raised a very smart young lady,” her father, Eric, said from his seat to her right.
Nisa had to squeeze her eyes shut and take a deep breath before she started to tear up again. Her family was amazing. All of them were, even her great-uncle Fritz, who was definitely stuck in the seventies with his hair styled in an afro; and wearing an old leather ankle length coat and a Dashiki. Uncle Fritz was a bit of an acquired taste and still called her white girl from time to time, even though he swears to the one drop rule.
She opened her eyes, watching and waiting for his next comment. He was a bit rough around the edges and during his visits he managed to offend everyone before driving the half day’s distance back to his home. She often wondered why he drove so far just to bicker with his family.
“Well, its cause she’s a Dithers,” Fritz said, as he looked at Nisa.
Nisa smiled but held her breath. There was no telling what Uncle Fritz would say next.
“It’s a good thing we’re built strong. Can’t say much about her other half though,” Fritz said, in a matter-of-fact tone as he forked some pie into his mouth.
And…there it goes, she thought. She looked around the table, but no one gave Uncle Fritz's comments a second thought. Even Spencer, who usually loved to verbally spar with her Uncle, said nothing. It seemed that everyone had decided to overlook Fritz’s nonsense today.
“Are you crying again?” A set of hands appeared from behind her and arms wrapped around her shoulders.
“No, I’m not crying again Derek.” Nisa rubbed her little brother’s arm as he rocked them. “I’m just happy, that’s all.”
“I’d be happy if I was leaving too. You'll get to stay up all night and eat what you want,” Derek pouted.
Nisa laughed and so did everyone within earshot at the table. She patted Derek on the arm before he moved away asked for their father’s keys. “Where do you two think you’re going?” Nisa questioned as she watched Derek and her cousin Walter move away from the table.
Walter sighed. “Geez Nisa, we’re done dessert. Derek’s just gonna show me the game you bought him.”
Her cousin Walter was a pain in the butt as cousins went and he often told her that she was a nosey fun-dimmer but he and Derek were as thick as thieves. Her mother’s sister, Aunt Helena and her husband, lived around the corner from them so that meant Walter, their son, was around all day and most nights.
Living away from home is going to be awesome, she thought with a smile.
“We’re nine years old,” Walter whined.
“Yeah,” Derek frowned, “we’re not babies.”
“Let them go,” one of her relatives at the table called out.
Nisa wasn’t sure who had spoken, out of the dozen or so relatives but she gave the boys a slight nod. She watched the boys jogged through the isle and past their waitress toward the entrance.
“How we doing?” Their waitress, a girl Nisa just met on her last day a week ago, asked.
“We’re about done,” Nisa’s father replied.
Nisa watched the waitress as she smiled then turned to get their check. Staring at the girl was a way for Nisa to avoid Spencer, her boyfriend, who was watching and waiting. She hadn’t given him an answer yet and he would be fishing for one as soon as he got her alone. Her only defense was avoidance, for as long as she could manage. So, she turned to her mother to discuss…anything.
A good fifteen minutes later, Spencer had managed to corral Nisa as her entire party gathered near the doors to leave. “Did you think about it?” he asked, as he pulled her closer and kissed her on the cheek.
Nisa appreciated his discretion in front of her family because a full kiss with them around, especially when she was about to deliver bad news, would be a bit awkward. She placed her hand lightly on Spencer’s chest and was about to tell him her answer when all hell broke loose.
It was the sound of the screeching tires that Nisa heard first. The abrasive tone raised above all the other sounds around her. The echo of their ending celebration, the low hum of the music, the laughter and cheer that spilled out of the restaurant, it all faded under that horrifying screech.
The crash seemed to shake the entire building. Though Nisa couldn’t see it, the sound was unmistakable. Her family and friends were gathered in the restaurant's all glass windowed enclosed lobby, blocking any view of what happened. Everyone was focused on what was most likely a nasty accident by the sound of it.
Nisa instinctively whirled around, searching for her little brother. He was her responsibility, hers to care for. Derek. “Derek,” she whispered, as she pushed through the unmoving crowd. Someone screamed. Another scream filled the night and it sounded like her aunt.
“Derek,” Nisa called out.
Where is he? He hadn’t returned with Walter after going to the car. That was over ten minutes ago. Nisa continued to push through her family and out onto the paved walk. Surely he was back by now.
Outside, her view was hindered but she saw part of a black sports car flipped over, partially on top of another car. A red sedan that looked… The crushed sedan looked like her parent’s car.
Did Derek and Walter move away in time? Were they sitting inside the crushed sedan?
“Derek,” Nisa screamed out this time. “Oh God…” Hands, Nisa felt hands pulling at her. They were preventing her from getting Derek. He lay still on the ground. He’d fallen, that’s all.
Why would they stop her from going to him?
“He needs me. Derek, get up. Derek?”
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