Xerxes sighs as he drops on the bus stop bench. Tonight was a hard night but it’s monumental. He’s ninety-one days sober and for him that’s a major accomplishment. What’s even harder, to his surprise, was confronting what he did. Tonight he stood in front of his fellow AA members and finally retold what happened. His reasons for being here.
His AA meetings were mandatory ordered by the court. Now, Xerxes comes because he wants to. He needs to.
Someone Xerxes has never seen before tonight sits next to him with a grunt. He remembers seeing this man in the meeting, a first timer. “It was.” Xerxes sneaks a peek out of the corner of his eye. For a man with only one leg, this stranger gets around rather well.
“Do you really feel that guilty or was it for the meeting?”
Xerxes’ heard this question before from one’s he’s told, which isn’t many. “Yeah.” He looks to the oil stained concrete, his hands wring together with unchecked nausea. “What I did, how I acted, there’s no apology big enough or sincere enough.”
The man makes a sound close to contemplation. “Did you ever meet the man or anything?”
“No, I’m too much of a coward.” Xerxes wants to throw up. “But I know his name.”
“That’s a step in the right direction. What’s his name?”
“Xylon Xavier.” Saying the man’s name aloud twists his gut.
The man shifts and the amputated leg, fitted with a prosthetic, invades Xerxes’ peripheral vision. “Another X name like yours.”
He chokes on a chuckle. “Yeah, kind of ironic.” Xerxes’ leg bounces with unvoiced thoughts and emotions.
“It haunts you, doesn’t it?”
Xerxes wipes his palms on his jeans to help relieve the clammy feeling. “I have nightmares. Sometimes I wake up screaming, a few crying.”
A warm hand on Xerxes’ shoulder giving a comfort squeeze helps him center himself. “Would it help if he forgives you?”
“Why would he? After what I did, what I took, that man should hate me.”
“Maybe he did and after he hears you, meets you, he will forgive you.”
Xerxes looks up into bright blue eyes. “What makes you so sure?”
This man smiles, it’s so soft and comforting, “Because I forgave the man who did this to me.” He gestures to his amputated leg.
“I don’t think he could forgive me.”
The other shifts a little closer and a flush heats Xerxes skin. “You think so little of Xylon Xavier?”
“No,” Xerxes looks away, for some reason he can’t stand to look at this man anymore, “I think that little of myself.”
“You shouldn’t.” The man’s comforting hand moves to Xerxes’ neck and gives a comforting squeeze, “Come to dinner with me tomorrow night? Come on, you deserve some fun.”
This man must’ve seen his indecision but he’s right, Xerxes needs something for himself. “Okay.”
The man smiles and it’s the most beautiful, life giving smile, Xerxes has seen in a long time. “I’ll pick you up here, tomorrow night, eight?”
Xerxes nods, “I’d like that.”
A car pulls up and a driver steps out to open the back door. “Dress nice.” The man stands and nods to the driver.
“Hey! I didn’t get your name.”
The man pauses, the door to the car blocking Xerxes’ view, another bright smile lights the man’s face. “Xylon Xavier. Till tomorrow night, Xerxes.” Xylon disappears into the car with a grunt before Xerxes has a chance to say anything.
Xerxes stares as the car pulls away, his mouth hanging open. He can’t believe it. He just… He… Xerxes’ stomach lurches. Throwing up next to the bench, Xerxes can’t process what happened. What’s worse is he said he’d go out on a date with the man.
What is he going to do?