Someday Is Here

I'll Tell You a Story

Every so often, you'll find a new story here just to read for pleasure or to give you a glimpse of my writing style to see if it's what you'd enjoy in a longer book. Feel free to give me your feed back! All stories will be archived here. 

Live Free and Be Happy


Karen only wanted one thing from life, but she despaired of every ever achieving it. Freedom. Just plain freedom, a commodity which it seemed everyone had but her. From her earliest childhood, she had marched to the beat of someone else’s drum. There were rules to follow, a schedule to be kept, and conventions to be upheld. But freedom, the kind she saw in her friends’ lives, eluded her.

She glimpsed light at the end of the tunnel when she graduated high school as valedictorian of her class and received a scholarship to the state university three hundred-plus miles from her hometown. But her father said she was too young--only seventeen--so the community college four blocks from the house would suffice for now.

Attaining the age of nineteen with a 4.0 grade-point average did nothing to change her father’s mind about her readiness to leave home. She begged him to relent but to no avail. Her mother said she could spend a while learning about managing a house--cooking, cleaning, sewing, shopping, and other mundane things Karen had zero interest in doing.

Karen suggested she might get a job and even lined up a few prospects. Her parents acquiesced to the interviews but, in the end, insisted she turn down every offer of employment.  She settled into an even lonelier life than she’d thought possible. With her few friends gone now, either in college or married, her social life dwindled to less than nothing. Days in the house with her mother. Evenings after dinner watching television her father or in her room reading. She chafed at her invisible prison bars but did nothing about them.

Did nothing, that is, until she met Tony Biancardi who happened to be shelving books in the mystery section of the library while she browsed one Saturday morning--the one day of the week she could get away from the stifling environment in which she lived. The phrase which came to mind as her eyes traveled over his face was drop-dead handsome. Eyes as black as his curly hair, an unblemished olive complexion, and muscles rippling under his collared shirt with the library logo on the pocket.

He laughed at her confusion, picked up the book she’d dropped, and introduced himself. “My pop has the produce market on Lightsey Street,” he said. “I’ve seen you shop there with your mother.”

“Why aren’t you working there today?” she stuttered.

“Weekends and nights at the library are extra money for college. I was a year ahead of you, but I’m still saving for the university. I’ve got two years at the community college under my belt, but I want more.”

“What do you want to do?”

“I’m going to be a dentist.” He smiled, displaying even white teeth. “Give kids nice smiles like mine.”

She felt her cheeks burning.

“But it’s going to be expensive. Pop can’t send me, not with the others.”“Others?”

“There’s five more little Biancardis younger than me.”

“Oh.”

“So what about you?”

“I finished community college last spring.”

“So you’re working.”

“No, I’m…” Unexpected tears filled her eyes. “I’m just at home?”

“Why for Pete’s sake?”

“Because that’s what my parents want.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty next month.”

“You’re considered legally an adult at eighteen, you know.”

“I suppose.”

“Do they lock you in at night?”

She giggled. “No.”

“Then walk out.”

“I can’t. You don’t understand.”

He shook his head. “I guess I don’t. I’ve got to get the rest of these books shelved. See you around.”

She knew she’d been dismissed, and it rankled her. Walking home--she’d never been allowed to get a driver’s license because he father said it was too dangerous for a teenager to be driving--she thought about Tony’s words. You’re considered legally an adult at eighteen, you know. She did know. She just hadn’t used the knowledge.

For the next three weeks--her books had a three-week limit--she mulled over her life and where it wasn’t going. She thought with regret of the lost scholarship which expired after a year. The jobs she’d let go--real jobs with a chance for advancement--haunted her.

By the time she returned her books to the library, a seed of rebellion had begun to open inside her. She looked for Tony without success, but she didn’t ask the woman behind the desk where he was. Then, rounding the corner of the stacks where a shelf of out-of-date college catalogues languished in dog-eared disgrace, she ran into him.

“What are you looking for in the non-fiction section?” he asked bluntly.

“My life,” she replied with a hint of defiance. “I’m looking for my life.

The smile spreading across his face made her heart speed up. “Well, good for you!” He glanced at the old catalogues. “You need to send off for the current catalogue for whenever you’re interested in going.”

“I can’t. It would come to the house, and…”

His smile faded. “I’ll get it for you then."

“Why would you do that?”

“I want to.” He lowered his voice. “After I ran into you the other day, I told Mamma about you.”

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“Why not? I talk to my folks about everything. Pop’s been behind me all the way all my life. He wants me to leave and get an education. I know the business as well as he does--well, almost--and it’ll  be hard on him having me gone, but my brother Al is old enough to fill in now. Your parents don’t even need you, but they won’t let you go.”

“You don’t understand.”

“You said that before. What I want to know is, do you understand?”

“I have to go.”

“Which catalogue do you want?”

She brushed past him without replying.

Three weeks later, when she returned her latest batch of books, he handed her three new catalogues, possibilities dripping from the crisp edges of unopened pages. “Here’s your life,” he said. “But you’ve got to live it for yourself.”

She hid the catalogues in the back of her closet under a box of high school memorabilia. It occurred to her she didn’t really have any personal memories because she’d never been allowed to go anywhere or do anything, but she’d clipped stories from the high school paper and bought spirit ribbons on Friday, taking them off before she got home. She had three yearbooks and a class ring and little else.

Long after her parents thought she’d gone to bed, she pored over the pages and made notes. She filled out applications for a couple of scholarships and hoped the school references she gave wouldn’t mention anything to her parents. But her parents kept to themselves anyway. They didn’t have any more social life than she did.

But she didn’t mail anything because she couldn’t afford to have official college correspondence coming to the post office box which her father checked daily on his way home from work. Finally she got up enough courage to ask Tony if she could use his address. The way he looked at her stirred a forgotten sense of pride.

She received acceptances from all three colleges and scholarship offers from two of them, including a letter from the university mentioning the unused scholarship which had expired almost three years earlier. “We are prepared to reinstate the tuition and books part of the offer. Dormitory and meal service isn’t included, of course, but we can help you find a job and affordable housing.”

“So what are you going to do?” Tony asked when she told him.

“What do you think I should do?”

You really want to know?”

“Yes.”

“If it were me, I’d go home, pack a suitcase, and buy a bus ticket to Heflin.”

“Just like that. What about money? Do you have any?”

“I get an allowance every week, but other than a few personal items, I don’t have any expenses.” She dropped her eyes. “My mother still buys my clothes.”

“Then that’s what I’d do--pack a suitcase, buy a bus ticket, and get the hell out of Dodge.”

She tucked the letter into her book bag. “I’ll have to think about it.”

He shrugged. “Don’t wait too late.”

On the way home, she detoured by Walmart, bought an inexpensive cell phone and several hundred minutes. The young woman who rang up the sale helped her set it up. “You’re good to go,” she said. “Enjoy.”

She lay awake that night thinking about the wheels she’d set in motion. Would her parents try to stop her? Could they? I can’t live this way for the rest of my life. I’m not even living, just existing. I’ve got to get out like Tony said.

The next time her mother needed a few things from the grocery store, Karen stood behind the building and called the University. “If I come now, could you give me that help with the job and a place to live?” she asked a woman in the registrar’s office.

“Give me two or three days, and I’ll find you something.”

“I’ll be there next Monday.”

When she turned in her books to the library on Saturday, she filled in the details to Tony. “If I give you some money, can you get me a bus ticket?”

“I’ll do better than that. I’ll drive you to the station myself. The first bus that direction leaves at seven-forty every morning.”

On Monday morning, she brought a single suitcase to breakfast and set it down beside her chair. “I’m leaving for the University this morning,” she said. Her voice shook, but she enunciated her words plainly.

Her father didn’t look up from his paper. “Of course, you’re not.”

“Of course, I am.”

He looked around his paper. “How silly.”

“How silly to stay here and rot.” This time she had a hard time getting the words out.”

“Stay here and rot?” her mother repeated.

“I’m leaving,” Karen said. “You can’t stop me. I’m over eighteen.”

“You’re still a child,” her father said, but this time he folded his paper and put it aside. “I’m your father, and I say you’re not going anywhere. That’s all there is to it.”

A horn sounded outside. “That’s my ride,” Karen said, rising so fast she almost tipped over the chair.
“I’m going. I should’ve gone years ago when I finished high school, but I let you keep me here. I’ve been in prison ever since.”

“Prison?” her mother echoed.’

“I don’t know what else you’d call it. I don’t know why you held onto me like some kind of collectable you couldn’t part with, but it wasn’t normal.” She picked up her suitcase. “This whole situation has been some sort of sick play, but it’s over.”

Her parents stared at her. Then her father said, “If you walk out that door, don’t come back.”

Karen smiled. “No, Oh, no, I wouldn’t even think about it.”

Tony met her halfway up the sidewalk and took the suitcase. “This is it?”

“It’s enough.”

“Let’s go then.”

He hefted the bag into the trunk of the car and opened the door for her. “You’re doing the right thing,” he said as he covered her shaking hands in her lap.

“I hope so.”

“I know so.”

Until the bus rolled slowly from the station, Karen half expected to see her father coming to forcibly take her home, but only Tony remained in the cavernous station, waving to her as long as she could see him.

Twenty-five years later

Karen watched her firstborn stride across the high school stage to receive his diploma. He paused at the top of the steps for the obligatory snap by the hired photographer, then waved to Karen and his father as he came the rest of the way down to rejoin his class. Karen thought of the trunk and half dozen boxes already packed and waiting in the garage at home. They’d move him into the dormitory next week, and then he’d be off to Scotland as part of a prestigious archaeological dig which accepted promising students for a pre-college summer orientation. She was as excited for him as he was for himself.

Her husband Joe, whose plumbing business had provided abundantly for Karen and three children, had only asked her once about why her first twenty years had been the way they were. She had to tell him she didn’t know, and she still didn’t. As far as she knew, her parents were still living in the same house in the same town, but she’d never been back. Tony, now a successful pediatric dentist, and his wife visited his family regularly, and always dropped her a postcard with that information.

But when Joe asked her, on their wedding night, how she envisioned the rest of her life, she had an answer. “Freedom,” she said. “Freedom to live and be happy.” He’d carved the motto in wood and hung it over the fireplace in the home they’d been able to buy soon after Joe, Jr. was born. LIVE FREE, it proclaimed, and Karen taught her children to do just that.

Now her oldest was practically on the plane to Scotland. Jessica would be a junior and had plans to spend a year working at a resort in Colorado after she graduated. “There’s plenty of time for college,” she said, and Karen and Joe didn’t disagree. Jake, their youngest--a surprise who arrived on their fifteenth anniversary, had finished fifth grade and would be going to a month-long outdoor living skills camp he’d researched himself. They were all, Karen reflected, living free.

She didn’t think often about the past. It made her sad. Sad for the experiences she’d never had, sad for her parents whose isolated life almost became hers. She might never know why, but for the most part she’d given up wondering. Not every circumstance had an explanation.

Now, as her son tossed his cap into the air and turned to grin at them, she felt her husband squeeze her hand. “Think we should keep him?”

Karen had to swallow the lump in her throat before she could answer. “Not too close,” she murmured. “Not too close.”

  



 

 

 

 

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