Freedom ... ?

-3- Short Stories

My eyes blinked as I stepped out into the hot humid air, the sun blazing at a scorching one hundred and two degrees. Blind spots obstructed my vision for a brief moment, until my eyes had adjusted to the sunlight. Sweat had already begun to drip down the back of my neck. If I hadn't known better, I might have mistaken this place for hell. I peered down at my quartz watch and noticed it was only three forty-five. I couldn't go home yet or else my parents might suspect something.

About a block down the road, some kids were screaming and playing with a water hydrant that had busted. I wished I had left the A & P sooner, thinking I may never see those three girls again. But what did it really matter? They had their lives and I had mine. It's only that I wanted to give them thanks for inspiring me to quit my hellhole of a job. I could never imagine myself with them. After all, I'm living with my parents in a town where adventure is unheard of, and routine is all there is. I feel trapped. Condemned to spend the rest of my life here in the Northeast, working dead end jobs, and only dreaming of a life elsewhere.

My feet scuff the pavement as I trudge slowly toward my neighborhood. I figure I can stop at my friend Dave's house and kill a few hours before my dreaded encounter with the prison guards at the institution to which I inhabit. I can see Lengel eagerly rushing to the phone at the first chance he has, to inform my parents of the devastating decision I made to quit the A & P. It is his righteous duty, after all. You can hardly blame the guy for his policy of strict honesty, yet I do. I blame him. I blame the people of this cursed town. I blame the administrators of the school district (whom by the way are supposed to teach you to become independent). I blame my parents. I blame myself for allowing myself to stay here and for pitying the helpless blue-hairs who are watching their youth dissipate in utter horror. I'm nineteen years old. I should be off at college somewhere, living in a coed dorm, learning about things other than real-estate and God, and, according to the elderly and the preachers, being brainwashed into the ever-evolving views of this nation. If I could only get a decent education, I might be able to quench this intense fire within me to see the world and experience the adventures it beholds.

"Education?" I can hear my old man say. "Education is for the leaders of this country. More education will only confuse you. Why do you need to go to college?  You have everything you'll ever need right here."

The man is clueless. He works in a real-estate office selling homes to people who only live there three months a year and then go back to wherever it is they came from. I never understood why people would have two homes. Ridiculous as I see it, they should stay in one place. But that's just my opinion. Why should they get the freedom of transferring their lives between two different homes, when here I am, imprisoned in my own cell, without any hope of escaping?

I finally found the strength and courage to quit my job, and I won't stop now. Lengel still owes me my last check, probably worth about one hundred and thirteen dollars and eighteen cents. I can easily buy a bus ticket out of this wretched ash heap and finally make something out of my purposeless life. I keep picturing those girls in my mind, repeatedly, imagining how carelessly free they are to do anything they want.

I will get out of this town. If I have to forsake all that I know and the little that I have, I will. My mother's wailing won't throw a guilt-trip on me, and my father's objections won't hinder me. I can only speculate Reverend Lance seated on the lilac sofa-chair in the living room of my house, drinking green tea with my parents, anticipating my arrival that he may pressure me to "repent" of my disobedience and return to the A & P. The thought actually makes me chuckle. Would my parents actually go that far? They have been known to overreact.

Dave's house is a two-story limestone house with a porch swing and wind chimes on the front deck, and a garden gnome where his mother planted roses and different sorts of flowers, of which I know absolutely nothing about. I figure the lazy bum is awake, since it's after two p.m. The boy has completely no ambition in life whatsoever. He stays up all hours of the night playing Diablo with people across the globe, sleeps until the early afternoon, never brushes his teeth and shows no signs of ever getting a job, or a life for that matter, in the near distant future. Why I chose his house, of all people, to visit during a time like this, I will never understand. Maybe to find comfort in the fact that I'm not the only who is momentarily wasting his life and dreams away.

I use the lion head latch to knock on the door. I wait five minutes and there is no answer. I ring the doorbell and perch myself on the steps, yank out a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, and hope to smoke away the earlier events that took place, and the events that are about to take place when I return home. It feels good to get that nicotine rush. The tranquility penetrates through my veins. As the warm summer breeze wisps around me and pulls the clouds along with its current, I have peace that I'm going to endure this hardship. I know I will persevere, despite the struggle to survive on my own. I am on my own in this now. My parents will never support me in my decision to leave, I recognize this, but sooner or later, they will understand the benefit of my leaving.

I suck in the last grain of tar into my lunges and smash the filter on the ground with my shoe. It's now five after five and I hesitantly walk into my house. I hear nothing but an eerie silence, indicating that nobody is home. No lights are on. Bewilderment consumes my mind. I decide to start packing my bags and to leave them a note on the kitchen counter informing them of my departure. Just as I was exiting the doorway, a voice, full of discipline, resounds from the hallways. "Sammy."

Startled, I turn around to see my father standing there in the dark.

"Lengel called me at work today."

"Dad, I know what you think, but this is something I have to do. For myself." It's the only thing that could come out of my mouth in the attempt to explain my unnecessary actions.

"What reason do you have for quitting the job I gave you? What more could you want?" He pretended to know me, but I could see right through him.

I could see that my mother had moved out into the hallway, leaning against the wall outside the master bedroom. Her arms were folded, and the expression on her face seemed to suggest that she had known, by some kind of motherly intuition, that this particular situation was eventually going to happen.

"There isn't anything for me here, Dad. You know this. You both know this. You need to let me go. Please." I doubt my persuasion was working, but there was nothing more to say. I reached for the doorknob and began to pull it open. "I love you both, and if you truly love me as you claim you do, let me go." With that, I walked out of that jail cell, clear into freedom.

Later, as I situated myself on the Greyhound bus, I paid for my one-way ticket with a credit card my Dad had given me for emergencies. Somehow, I just knew they would relentlessly pay the bill. I decided to preserve the money from my last paycheck for food and lodging. I didn't even bother to see where this bus was headed, but I paid for the most expensive trip and knew that wherever I ended up was where I was meant to be. I closed my eyes, and as the bus wheeled away, I could feel the strings attached to me begin to tear apart, and the chains breaking, link by link. Freedom was finally within my grip and I was terrified about what I would do with it.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I wrote this for my english class... It wasn't accepted. Apparently I suck at writing short stories.

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