It’s dark and musty. The floor is dirt and their clothes are torn. Jean Valjean is chained to another man. His face is tanned like leather, as someone who has spent too many days working in the sun. He glances at a man being led in and chained with his hands hanging from cuffs above his head. He recognized this man. He was a man of valor, but a man who was betrayed. He starred into his eyes for a moment, but he could not hold the gaze. His eyes dropped to the ground. He was convicted to the core.
Maximus felt this man’s shame. He spoke with a raspy voice, “You know that things aren’t always viewed by God in the same manner as man views them. There is a shame that haunts us all, but that shame should never keep us from being who we were created to be.”
“I’m a simple thief. I broke a window and stole a loaf of bread so I could try to save my sister and her children. My boss refused to pay me after several days of work. I thought I could solve my problem, but now I don’t know what has happened to my sister, nor her children. I have failed them.” Jean Valjean made eye contact once again. He questioned this man’s confidence with the current state of the governments of their countries. He didn’t flinch at the chains nor did they seem to bother him.
“I would not call you a simple thief, knowing the present state of the governing authorities nor their code of conduct with the citizens. They withhold the very thing that is needed to sustain life.”
“No sin goes unpunished. I am Jean Valjean, the bread thief, and I will have to live with the memories of my imprisonment for the rest of my life.”
“I am Maximus, and the only bondage that can hold you down are the ones you allow to control you.”
Jean Valjean thought about this man’s words. He looked up at him and said, “I know who you are, Maximus. Your stories of victories in war are legendary. I am very pleased to meet you.”
“And you likewise, Jean Valjean. My story will come to an end, but yours is yet to be written. Use your last years wisely. You will impact a lot of people. Come to know your creator and you will be able to smile back at death also.” Maximus smiled.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pleased to Meet You.”