Short Inspirational Stories
Forgiveness Part 2
There were many opportunities
to fill in the chart in the years that followed. She once
told the kids at school that Brent talked in his sleep and
called out Rhonda Hill's name, even though it wasn't true.
The teasing caused Brent days and days of misery. When she
realized how cruel she had been, Lisa apologized sincerely.
That night she marked box number 96. Forgiveness number
211 came in the tenth grade when Lisa failed to bring home
Brent's English book. Brent had stayed home sick that day
and had asked her to bring it so he could study for a quiz.
She forgot and he got a C. Number 393 was for lost keys....
418 for the extra bleach she put in the washer which ruined
his favorite polo shirt... 449, the dent she put in his
car when she had borrowed it. There was a small ceremony
when Lisa checked number 490. She used a gold pen for the
check mark, had Brent sign the chart, and then placed it
in her memory box.
"I guess that's the end," Lisa said.
"No more screw-ups from me anymore!" Brent just
Number 491 was just another one of Lisa's careless mistakes,
but its hurt lasted a lifetime. Brent had become all that
his music teachers said he would. Few could play the oboe
better than he could. In his fourth year at the best music
school in the United States, he received the opportunity
of a lifetime - a chance to try out for New York City's
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The tryout would be held sometime during the following
two weeks. It would have been the fulfillment of Brent's
young dreams. But he never got the chance to tryout. Brent
had been out when the call about the tryout came to the
house. Lisa was the only one home and on her way out the
door, eager to get to work on time when the call came.
"Two-thirty on the tenth," the secretary said
on the phone.
Lisa did not have a pen, but she told herself that she could
"Got it. Thanks." I can remember that, she thought.
But she did not.
It was a week later at the dinner table when Lisa realized
"So, Brent," his mom asked him, "When do
you try out?"
"Don't know yet. They're supposed to call."
Lisa froze in her seat.
"Oh, no!" She blurted out loud. "What's today's
"It's the twelfth," her dad answered. "Why?"
A terrible pain ripped through Lisa's heart. She buried
her face in her hands, crying.
"Lisa, what's the matter?" Her mother asked.
Through sobs Lisa explained what had happened.
"It was two days ago... the tryout... two-thirty...
the call came.... last week."
Brent sat back in his chair, not believing Lisa.
"Is this one of your jokes, sis?" he asked, though
he could tell her misery was real.
She shook her head, still unable to look at him.
"Then I really missed it?" She nodded.
Brent ran out of the kitchen without a word. He did not
come out of his room the rest of the evening. Lisa tried
once to knock on the door, but she could not face him. She
went to her room where she cried bitterly. Suddenly she
knew what she had to do. She had ruined Brent's life. He
could never forgive her for that. She had failed her family,
and there was nothing to do but to leave home. Lisa packed
her pickup truck in the middle of the night and left a note
behind, telling her folks she'd be all right. She began
writing a note to Brent, but her words sounded empty to
"Nothing I say could make a difference anyway,"
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Two days later she got a job as a waitress in Boston. She
found an apartment not too far from the restaurant. Her
parents tried many times to reach her, but Lisa ignored
"It's too late," she wrote them once, "I've
ruined Brent's life, and I'm not coming back."
Lisa did not think she would ever see home again. But one
day in the restaurant where she worked she saw a face she
"Lisa!" said Mrs. Nelson, looking up from her
"What a surprise." The woman was a friend of Lisa's
family from back home.
"I was so sorry to hear about your brother," Mrs.
Nelson said softly.
"Such a terrible accident. But we can be thankful that
he died quickly. He didn't suffer." Lisa stared at
the woman in shock.
"Wh-hat?" she finally stammered.
It couldn't be! Her brother? Dead? The woman quickly saw
that Lisa did not know about the accident. She told the
girl the sad story of the speeding car, the rush to the
hospital, the doctors working over Brent. But all they could
do was not enough to save him. Lisa returned home that afternoon.
Now she found herself in her room thinking about her brother
as she held the small box that containing some of her memories
of him. Sadly, she opened the box and peered inside. It
was as she remembered, except for one item - Brent's chart.
It was not there. In its place, at the bottom of the box,
was an envelope. Her hands shook as she tore it open and
removed a letter.
The first page read:
It was you who kept count, not me. But if you're stubborn
enough to keep count, use the new chart I've made for you.
Lisa turned to the second page where she found a chart
just like the one she had made as a child, but on this one
the lines were drawn with perfect precision. And unlike
the chart she had kept, there was but one checkmark in the
upper left-hand corner. Written in red felt tip pen over
the entire page were the words: "Number 491. Forgiven,
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