Three Months Later
"Do you know why you're here?"
Alexander leaned his head back against the prison cell. Six months in prison - that was the amount of time he'd have to spend in this awful place. On the one time he'd joined his old cronies for a bit of criminal activity - after all, the thrill-seeker in him had only been pushed aside, not erased, when Miriam had come back to find him - he'd gotten caught. Six months in prison...but it could have been worse. Luckily, the crime had been petty enough that Alexander hadn't been given far more serious punishment.
"Alexander Hale, do you know why you're here?" Auntie Lala repeated. She'd come to visit Alexander in his misery.
"No, do you really know why you're here?" Auntie Lala persisted. She reached through the bars and held out her hand to Alexander. He ignored it. "You're here because Miriam couldn't fill the void in your soul. For a few months, you were satisfied with her. But then, you returned to your thievery, because Miriam couldn't provide what you thought adventure would. But Alexander, no matter how hard you try, the God-shaped hole in your soul can only be filled withGod."
"Listen, I appreciate you coming to visit me. I honestly do. But I don't need to hear a sermon on all the things I'm doing wrong. For all I know, I was coping just fine until I walked through those church doors that one Sunday."
"Ah, yes. Alcohol and women and gambling and crime. I'd certainly say you were coping just fine."
Annoyed by the sarcasm in Auntie Lala's voice, Alexander turned away. "You can leave, if you feel so inclined."
"Alexander Marcus Hale! Stop feeling sorry for yourself!"
Auntie Lala's words awoke the anger in Alexander's soul. Apathy shed, he stood and paced over to Auntie Lala. "Stop feeling sorry for myself? I'm not feeling sorry for myself, in case you didn't notice! I have no right to feel sorry for myself! I'm the reason I'm here! I'm not pitying myself, I'm - " he stopped, unwilling to continue.
"You're what?" Auntie Lala asked, voice suddenly motherly.
"I just...I wish I could die somehow." Alexander's body was trembling, and he could feel sweat pouring down his face. What I wouldn't give for something to drink right now.
"I don't want to overstay my welcome, Alexander, but I will come here every Sunday. God isn't done trying to get through to you, honey. I can tell He's working just as hard as ever to get your attention."
Nauseous from withdrawal, Alexander didn't say anything. I don't deserve to be visited. I wish they would have condemned me to death. It's what I deserve. He shuddered and finally managed to say, "You don't have to come that often." He swore. "You don't have to come at all."
"I have a son who lives in Hendrick," said Auntie Lala, voice dropping. "He lost his wife, his five children, and his home to alcohol."
Alexander was chilled. Hadn't that one man in the tavern said the same thing?
"Everytime I see my son, he's died a little bit more. I promised myself I wouldn't let you end up the same way." Auntie Lala began to cry. "I promised myself I wouldn't let you end up the same way..."