Romans

The pale dawning light of a new day was warm on his face as he stared blankly out the window. It was still yet early and silence was his ever faithful companion. It was a silence that he cherished every new day before the daily arguments, shouts and screams filled the air. It was a silence that gave him time to think.

Perhaps thinking too much was what had gotten him here in the first place, but it was the only thing left that he could do.

A bird's chirp waked him from his reverie and he shook his head to clear his thoughts. Dr. Matt Crower closed his eyes for awhile before he opened them to look once more at the words staring back at him:

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" – 1 John 1:9

Matt had been flipping through the Bible that Caleb had brought to him when he'd been released from his straight-jacket, and this text had hit him hard – if there really was a God, Matt didn't know how his sins could ever be forgiven.

His job was to save, but he'd killed them. He'd committed the worst sin of all; he'd killed them all, the ones he loved the most…his family.

He cried out in anger, in sorrow…and guilt. He didn't know which he felt more, but he wished he didn't have to feel the way he did. What did forgiveness feel like? Was it anything better than this?

Then the tears came, they always did. They were as hot and stung his eyes like the first time he'd shed them, for his wife, and his daughter.

"I deserve worse than hell…"

"No, don't say that!"

Surprised, Matt opened his eyes and felt a warmth brush away a falling tear. No one else could be here with him…

"Merly Ann?"

"No, daddy, it's me…"

Another tear was brushed away and he lifted his head to find himself looking at his greatest joy…and pain.

"Daddy, it's me."

"Claire?"

She smiled at him and nodded.

Claire, his little baby-girl. He struggled in his straight-jacket – hadn't they taken it off him already? He struggled desperately, wanting to hug her, to kiss her, to hold her and know that she was really there.

"Claire, I'm so…I'm so sorry. I…I killed your mommy and…you… Honey, I'm so sorry," he cried out desperately.

But her smile remained as she wrapped her little arms around Matt's neck. Burying her face in his chest, her sweet voice calmed his frantic heart,

"It's okay daddy. God said that He forgives you, and mommy and me do too."

She lifted her face and stared into his eyes.

"Daddy, we love you."

Forgiveness; it took his breath away.

"No, honey, you don't understand. I–"

"Daddy, I love you," Claire repeated firmly, tightening her hug.

Matt buried his face in his daughter's hair and said the thing he'd been longing to say for so long,

"I love you, too."

He heard a happy giggle and could not help but smile.

"Did you hear that, mommy? Daddy said he loves me."

Mommy? Matt looked around, and standing before him, was the most beautiful person he'd ever known.

"He always has, honey."

"Lily, I…"

"I know Matt, I love you too."

She crouched beside him and caressed Claire's happy face. Her eyes were filled with love as she looked into Matt's eyes.

"Lily, I love you," he said, full of conviction. Lily caressed Matt's face and gave him a light kiss.

"We know…we know." Then she looked at Claire a little wistfully. "Honey, it's time to go."

Claire frowned and shook her head.

"Just a while longer, please mommy?"

"I'm sorry, Claire."

Claire sighed but quickly put on a bright smile again. She turned to her father and planted a kiss on his cheek.

"Please don't be sad anymore, daddy. We love you."

With that, Lily and Claire started fading. A bright light filled the room before the dull morning light once again took its place.

Matt awoke with a start. A dream, it had only been a dream, but what a welcome one to the nightmares he'd been having.

He looked around for a trace that it had all been real, touched his lips where his wife had kissed him, his cheek. Just a dream…

But he stumbled upon something very real; the Bible lay open as he'd left it before dozing off. He smirked at it, challenging 1 John 1:19 to taunt him as he looked at the open page.

He felt different somehow, though. His 'forgiveness' had just been a dream, but he felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from his heart; unrighteous no more, cleansed as promised.

But the Bible was open to another page now and another verse that he'd not read before caught his eye:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Romans 6:23

Matt found his eyes tearing up again as he hesitantly repeated the verse to himself – he'd been forgiven all along.

Standard disclaimers apply

Notes : The Bible texts are quoted from the 'New King James Version'. Also, sorry the formatting got messed up during the uploading process.