*Trigger Warning* (This story includes domestic abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, and habits of addiction.)
Markus lay in bed listening as rain pattered on his roof, and watched as water droplets streaked down his window. He had been up all night, his second wife laying next to him unbeknownst to his raging thoughts. On his mind, were his children. How did they grow up so fast? When did they grow up so fast? Memories of the past flashed before his eyes and regret immediately rolled through him and plagued his mind. He turned on his side and stared at the picture frame on his night stand. A picture, of his current wife and his four kids. Excluded from the picture was his daughter, from his previous marriage. Elizabeth. He was young when Elizabeth was first born. He could remember it so vividly, her bright smile on her newborn face just lit up the entire room. She was the happiest baby to ever be born. And he had taken that from her not so soon after. He knew what kind of world he presented to her at a young age. A world of abuse, drugs, fighting, and drinking. A world that a child shouldn't have been involved in.
In his teenage years Markus had met his first wife. They started dating and all was well. However, it did not last long. Markus had became involved in illegal activities, and manipulated his partner into keeping it a secret. As time passed, his influence on Jennifer (his first wife) had taken over, and he dragged her into a life full of violence and addiction. When Elizabeth was born, she was supposed to be the light outside of a dark tunnel. So, they worked their hardest to provide a good life for her. For a year, all seemed to be well. That is, until Jennifer was found to be cheating on him. This threw them both back into their old ways, and without intending too they managed to pull their child into the darkness as well.
There were countless nights of arguments, days where Elizabeth had been hurt due to their recklessness, physical fights breaking out, and things being smashed around. The young child endured it all. Her father was in and out of prison, her mother was always screaming in pain from the abuse, there was always new men that found their way into their house, and sometimes she found herself in a strangers home as her parents sorted things out. At the age of three, she had been admitted into the hospital for ingesting certain amounts of marijuana laced brownies that were left out. And at the age of five, one of the men her mother always brought over found himself into her room. That wasn't the last time a man had found himself into her room.
When she was six Elizabeth was sent to an adoption agency, and both of her parents were sent to prison for drug possession. When they came out a few years later, they didn't bother looking for their child. It was one of the biggest mistakes Markus had made, and one of the greatest gifts that happened for Elizabeth. Years later, after defeating his addiction and marrying his current wife, he made the decision to find her. It had been nine years since he heard from her, and he wanted to make amends. He found her, and couldn't help but cry. Elizabeth was adopted by a happy, and wonderful family. She was a beautiful fifteen year old girl, and just like the day she was born, had the brightest smile on her face.
He reached our to her, and as expected she denied any contact with him. Markus did everything in his power to ask for forgiveness, but to no avail. His wife, Lucy, decided to help, and with many emails and text messages, Elizabeth agreed to meet in person. The day they met, was a day that set Markus on a journey of redemption.
"You were my father, and you were supposed to be there for me. You weren't present in my life, and you caused me pain I've worked so hard to forget about," Elizabeth had told him. "I'm glad you are on a better track and I hope you continue doing so, but I don't forgive you. You've done nothing to earn my forgiveness."
Ten years later, he had never heard the words 'I forgive you' come out of his daughters mouth. He knew they had moved past the past, but every now and then the memories plagued his mind. Markus sighs getting out of bed and getting dressed for his day. Making a cup of coffee, he grabs his coat before sitting on the bench, on his front porch. The rain had stopped, and the smell of dew wafted to his nose. Looking out at the beauty of nature, his hand unconsciously reaches for his phone. As if the universe had knew his wish, his phone started ringing and Elizabeth's name lit the screen. In a heartbeat he had answered it.
"Hello?" He says nervously.
"Hey, I didn't think that I would catch you so early in the morning," she said surprised.
"I couldn't sleep," he replied back with a smile. Hearing her voice warmed his heart.
"Me neither." She said, there's a pregnant pause. "Jennifer contacted me."
Markus's eyes widen. He hadn't heard about her in years.
"She did?" he asks her.
"Yeah, it didn't go so well," she says with a sigh. "She hasn't recovered at all, and called me asking for money. After I refused she basically cursed me out. It was just a sucky situation to be in."
Guilt and regret once again hit him. Jennifer most likely brought back bad memories for Elizabeth.
"I know I've said this enough times, but I'm truly sorry Elizabeth. For everything I've put you and your mother through." He says to her. He breathes out slightly and his breath fogs out into the crisp air. Silence blankets them both, before the words he had been waiting to hear for years were spoken.
"I forgive you, Dad." She says clearly. Markus's mind went blank.
"What?" He asks dumbfounded.
"I forgive you."