Newspaper Picture

June 5, 2008
By Anton Radice, Havertown, PA

Benjamin Freehold spent the entire week before his final exams doing nothing but procrastinating. He had this terrible problem all of his life, whether it was just a small test to study for or an entire 15 page paper on business law. He could not start any assignment until the night before for some strange yet obvious reason. It was a problem he was reminded about everyday by his parents. They worked him hard all through his childhood and never settled for anything but straight A’s. They eventually sent him to an expensive private school in Boston for high school. Benjamin was born and raised in western Massachusetts and when he found out about his parents plans of sending him to school far away he was very upset. In some ways, his parents changed his personality and the way he thought. He was a happy child who was creative and adventurous until he started elementary school. The toys went away and instead of spending time outside playing with other children his age, his parents kept him inside studying and working. In some ways he thought, his parents shaped him into what they always wanted to be, not who he really was. His mother was a gym teacher all of her life and his father worked as a janitor at the local swim club. If you could imagine two people of those occupations keeping their son in on a Friday afternoon to study for a test in first grade you would think they are crazy. This is how his hate for his parents began to grow. He noticed these once ordinary things that they did to him and began to see it as abuse.

Here he was, 15 years later, sitting in a damp apartment in San Francisco studying for his P.H.D. in law. It was the night before his final exam and he had not studied at all previously. He knew there was no way to pass a 250 question test plus write a respectable 5 page essay on the subject. There was just no way to review all of that information in one night, he came to believe. As he sat there staring at the full binder of notes he took in class the last year and half, a flashback of his childhood came to his mind.
Benjamin Freehold was about to enter the fifth grade and all he had on his mind that summer was fun. He spent most of his time sneaking out of the house and going to his best-friends house to play. His mother left him alone in the study every day to go over his notes and continue his summer reading, but Benjamin had not done anything all summer. He would sneak out and have fun instead. It was going well until the morning of August 13, 1986. Benjamin had waited the precautionary 10 minutes and was climbing up onto the desk to open the window as he would do every day. He could hear the inviting cheer of his friends around the block already. As he was opening the window, he felt an awkward silence surround him. He turned around and his mother was staring at him with a deadly gaze and began to rush towards him. What happened the rest of that day he would never speak of or think of again.
Back to reality. The final exam was tomorrow morning. A barrage of thoughts began to come to his mind. Is this really what I want? Do I really want to become a lawyer or is this what my parents want me to do? No, this is not what I want at all. Why did I ever go to law school in the first place? I don’t like this at all, he thought. It’s time to find out who I really am, not who my parents think I am. So Benjamin Freehold threw his entire binder full of notes in the trash can and lit it on fire with a lighter. The inviting aroma of burning paper began to slowly drift up. As he sat there watching the contents burn, he felt free and alive for the first time. It was as though he was burning not his binder from law school, but his entire past with his parents. This was a turning point of his life. No longer was he under the invisible influence of his mentally unstable parents, but now he was himself finally. There was no one left to shape him into something he didn’t want to be or force him to do something he didn’t want to do. This is my life and I’m going to do whatever I want, he whispered to himself.

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