The fan whirred overhead, swirling the mass of hot and humid air around the room, doing little to dispel the beads of perspiration slowly sliding down the foreheads of the room’s occupants.
A thread came undone off the hem of a skirt and the periodic winding and unwinding of the thread around the little finger of its anxious owner grabbed the attention of her two year old son. He flexed his palm in the general direction of his mother, hoping to catch her eye, but her gaze remained unwavering. Her eyes looked to the future, hoping to stare it down; to intimidate it in all its shadowy bleakness; she slowly steeled herself for the signing of the papers. The clock ticked.
She could get a job again. She always wanted to work anyway, and this was a wonderful silver lining. Silver lining? Was this a dark cloud, then? But hadn’t she longed for this very thing? Freedom?
But Freedom can mean different things; freedom to and freedom from.
Oh if her mother could see her now. She almost laughed, imagining the look of scandalized horror that would be on her mother’s face if she were here. Men will be men, but women are built to endure all this; besides in these matters, its always the woman who ends up worse off, soldiering through this is far better than the alternative, you’ll see, she would nod her head wisely –as if divorce was for the weak, like anything other than staying would be an act of despicable, unforgivable cowardice; a slap to womanhood.
She hadn’t expected, at 19, that her life would fall apart so spectacularly, and yet here she was, ten years later, a stack of papers at her feet–each word spelling her doom and liberation simultaneously, each word a new hope and a shattered promise and each word tearing into her, slowly disintegrating her innards, her lungs, her heart.
And then her eyes finally moved to her son. She smiled, unwinding the thread. Picking up the pen–
Freedom to, and Freedom from.