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The Prison of Freedom This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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My hands were weary. The ache of my body showed appreciation when I looked at my spotless room. The books were tidy, and the floor showing a face I was still trying to figure out. "I hope you finished cleaning". My mother's shriek was that of any other mothers. The fact that my mother was very retentive, but couldn't remember the child in her irritated me constantly. Her voice pounding my ear drums like a set of bongos. I was never able to understand her. Her unique choice of words. She would always bestow advice to me that I could never quite understand. "You will know freedom when you take responsibility into your own hands and can live independently". Those words she would repeat after each meaningful lecture I received from her whenever I disobeyed. I never understood those words in a profound way. I had the ability to muster them together and break it down, but I knew there had to be more meaning. "I finished cleaning, mom". Three. Two. One. My mother entered the room right when my mouth muttered zero. Her head peeked through the door to inspect my accomplishment. Her assertive face had a pinch of gentleness to it. The unique face of someone who would escape to go anywhere in the world at any given time. "Fine", she said.

As I lied on top of my bed I began to think of what I was doing staying home. I never asked my mother if I could go out. I just sat at home, reading stories by Stephen King, trying to decipher his warped mind. Today I was listening to music, though. I believe its the greatest medicine anyone can receive. I think. I think of life and its many secrets. I think of love and the mythological emotion that comes with it. I think of my mother and her words, oh how they attack me like a vicious disease. Its funny how I mentally stabilize myself. It just makes me want to laugh at a therapist. Embezzling money by just one signature on a prescription form. Each patient a victim to being numbed by these pills they take.
All this time I was pondering, I hadn't heard my mother tell me to go shopping. I never even realized she left the house to go to her doctor's appointment. A favorite of mine began to play on my Bob Dylan record. "The Times They Are A Changing". A feeling started to brew in my stomach telling me I was meant to listen to this song at this particular moment. "And don't criticize what you can't understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command". I explode with laughter, thinking to myself that if my mother ever heard this line she would destroy that prized record of mine.

She returned. My train of thought had made its final stop long before she came so I was able to make out the jangle of keys as it hit the hard countertop of the kitchen. "Wheres the eggs and flour"? My mother asked in a booming tone as she barged into my room. "I didn't know you asked me to get some", I said, sounding like a mouse who just wanted to hide in its hole. "So you're not paying attention now? Do you think you can get by in life by not paying attention? No! You will know freedom only when you take responsibility into your own hands and can live independently. This wasn't a hard task and you know that". Those words. She said them again. I wish one of my records was scratched so it would know how it feels to have words repeated like this. Such words like this had no meaning to an adolescent mind. "You're grounded", my mother said as if it were the solution to everything. It didn't make much sense as to why she did this, she knew I never went out.

It all clicked. My mother's words and Bob Dylan's words, along with my mother grounding me. It made me want to just... leave. I couldn't. I had chores. I was grounded. My household made me think of the outside world pessimistically. I was never encouraged to go out by my parents. I was never told to partake in after-school activities.
That's when the puzzle was complete. I finished my chores faster than a Californian forest fire and called one of my friends. "Want to hang out"? I asked casually, as if I did this on a regular basis. "You? Hang out? You never do that"? The shock in Sid, my friend, clearly sounded through the telephone. "I know, I know. I just thought I'd get some air". I lied. " Okay. I'm at Tim's house. He said he doesn't mind if you pop by". "See you soon", I said before grabbing my wallet and climbing out the window so I wouldn't be seen by either of my parents.

I was on my way back home. It was safe to say my mother knew I was gone, which terrified me. While I was breathing my last breaths, I took time to notice the beauty of the outdoors. I especially took notice in the sound of the crickets. They made me feel warm, like the insects and denizens of the night were friendly. It almost made me feel ashamed of being home all these years.
I turned at the final intersection before my house. My heart wasn't beating as much as I thought it would have. This experience was well worth the punishment I was about to receive. As I opened the gate to my house, I noticed my mother sitting down on the patio. She had that look, that look of a gangster. The godfather, thats it! I was able to pinpoint her position in the chair. As soon as our eyes met a switch went off. Her face, it went from being so serious, to a state of bliss. "Welcome home", she said. Her relief finally showing, as she said once more: "You will know freedom when you take responsibility into your own hands and can live independently. Took you long enough".



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