Greetings. It's April 2021. How is your year going? I trust it's better than last year.
It's time once again to post for the Write, Edit, Publish Challenge. Thank you to the host, Olga, Renee, Laura, and Nila, and a special thanks to Denise for starting this fun group.
Today's theme: Freedom Morning. I struggled with this challenge. I'm American. Freedom is part of our identity. We are the home of the brave, land of the free. We sing about freedom, march for our freedoms, argue policy based on freedom, and refuse to comply with mandates which some perceive as taking away their freedom. Every war we have ever fought in is to preserve our freedom. Or, so we are told.
I'm also white. No one has denied me service based on my skin color. No one has ever charged me with a crime based on my skin color. So while these things sadly happen to minorities in America, they have never happened to me. How could I possibly write anything about Freedom Morning?
With this frame of mind, I talked to a friend about this challenge and she reminded me that freedom was also about things that you overcome in your life, like her story. And so, dear friends, for the first time ever I'm going to tell you a true story. The story of Akina. The names have been changed.
When Love Takes Your Freedom Away
I went back.
Akina studied her image in the mirror. There was nothing about her auburn locks or hazel eyes to indicate that she was lost. Nothing. But she was…lost.
From the moment she saw Pete and heard his voice she’d been lost. Her need to be loved coursed through her veins to this day. Her memory of the events, hazy even now.
She had woke on the floor of her apartment. Pete was tuned into the football game, ignoring her. Her four-year-old son, Rob, sat on the floor beside her, holding her hand and patting it. His large dark brown eyes studied her face.
“Mommy,” he said when she looked at him.
“I’m okay,” she said to reassure him even though she couldn’t remember what happened.
She sat, and then stood. A little light-headed. Pete continued to ignore her, guzzling the last of his 18-pack of beer. The carton lay empty at his feet.
Akina went to the bathroom, did her business, and glanced at her reflection to see one eye swollen, and the bruise extending down to her cheek. And her lip was cut.
Then it all came to her. She’d been working a crossword puzzle while Pete cheered or bellowed at the football team on the television.
The crowd roared, she looked up, the home team made a touchdown. Pete hated the home team. He stood, grabbed her arm, and yanked her up before punching her in the breast and on her face. Her body twisted away and turned to fall, landing on their son. Everything went black.
How long had she been out? What should she do? She didn’t know and so she went to bed.
In the morning after Pete left for work, she called her mom. Rob was too young for school, and so her mom came and they all went to the hospital. From there, the police arrested Pete and he went to jail for domestic abuse.
Now, close to a year later, as she stared at her own reflection in the mirror, she argued with herself. Follow your heart.
She’d let Pete move back in. She loved him. She needed him. She did it all for her son. He needed his father in his life. Right?
Her mother had spent an hour on the phone trying to dissuade her from this course. But, Akina knew what she wanted. What she needed. And that was Pete.
Her happiness didn’t even last a month. Pete quit his job, refused to do any housework, drank beer continuously, spending her money on it. He didn’t even babysit Rob, her mother did. Pete slept all day and drank all night and wouldn’t let Akina sleep. Instead, needling her to stay up with him. Exhausted, she started making stupid mistakes at her job.
But she needed him, right? She loved him and he loved her. They had a son together. He’s changed!
Football season started. Pete stood and threw a beer at the TV and then turned on Akina sitting on the sofa next to him.
In the morning, she stared at her bruised and battered face.
But I need him. He will change.
She was trapped. She couldn’t feel anything anymore. And she knew, her love had robbed her of her freedom to choose. Her love had taken her freedom away.
Word Count: 563
As of this writing, Akina has turned her life around. With her mother’s help, she returned to school and is now a nurse living her best self and supporting her son, now 14, without Pete.
Let me know what you think.
I'm pleased to announce that my epic fantasy, the Treasures of Carmelidrium is now available everywhere.
Link to my website: authornrwilliams.com