“Not once!” It was true, sort of. Sure, since the divorce and that last beating, his mom had given him everything he’d ever asked for. She made what he wanted for dinner. She never told him what to do. But neither did she ever once say the words, “I’m sorry” or “Forgive me.”
Nobody’s masked head nodded as if conceding the point. “But with all the times you’ve run off or changed the subject, how could she do more than she’s done. And what has that really done for you? Where has your resentment led you?”
Nobody pointed at the mirror. “Who have you become because you choose to hold onto your anger.”
Paul turned to look at his reflection in the splintered mirror. There was that face again. His own face. A face that looked far too much like the face of the man Paul hated more than anyone else.
“She doesn’t deserve it!” Paul spun back around as he spoke, even if only to hide the all to horrifyingly familiar scowl he knew he wore.
“Did she deserve the beatings?” Nobody asked.
“Nobody deserves that!”
“What about Jordan?”
Paul wanted to lash out, but how could he? Right after declaring nobody deserves a beating, how could he justify beating someone?
“Now we move on to the more interesting question,” Nobody said. He glanced at a black device on his wrist. It would look like a smart watch if it had any sort of light or symbols, but as far as Paul could tell, it was just a black rectangle about the width of a pencil. “What are the wages of sin?”
“What?” Paul asked.
“You’ll remember when you think on it. Look to Paul’s letter to the Romans to refresh your thoughts,” Nobody said. He started to make his way back into the stall.
“I never finished it.” Paul said. “I put that Bible away and forgot about it.”
Nobody stopped, standing at the entrance to a simple bathroom stall. “Liar.”
Paul knew it was pretty stupid even trying to lie to a man who could read his thoughts or had some way of knowing everything. How did he know Jordan’s name?
“Nobody deserves forgiveness,” Nobody said. “That’s why it’s a gift.”
Nobody shut the door. Paul darted at the door as quickly as he could, but the temperature swung again, and a flash of light forced him to shut his eyes and turn away. Even as his eyes adjusted to the light, Paul flung the door open. His tennis shoes plopped into a small puddle of water. The toilet seemed to be completely unaffected by whatever Nobody had done.
His science teachers, the only teachers who treated Paul like a normal human being, had talked about experiments and measurements, but Paul didn’t have any equipment. He wouldn’t know what to measure for anyway. Maybe I should start with temperature, Paul thought to himself as he continued to look around the stall. He dropped down to a knee to look behind the toilet.
“What are you doing?”
Paul’s head spun around to find a boy standing at the bathroom’s entrance. He seemed equally amused and disgusted.
“I lost something,” Paul said getting up and washing his hands. “Have you seen a watch?”
Paul didn’t own a watch, but at least it explained why he was carefully looking around a toilet in a public bathroom.
“No.” The answer seemed more like a cough, but he went on about his own business.
Even as Paul let the water run over his hands, the questions about how Nobody moved around seemed to fade behind the last thing he had said to Paul.
“Nobody deserves forgiveness. That’s why it’s a gift.”
Paul frowned in confused anger. If nobody deserved forgiveness, why would anyone forgive anybody else? And if people were always forgiven when the didn’t deserve it, why would they ever stop doing things that bothered other people?
Paul scrubbed his hands more fiercely as he thought.