50 Shades of Independence

Independence! I love that word. Don’t you just love the word? Isn’t that like the most amazing word in the whole world? Independence! Love it! Love, love, love, love it. Love it so much that I can’t stop thinking about it. And this is where my problems began; I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

They say ‘ignorance is a bliss’. And sure enough, they were right; whoever ‘they’ might be. When I didn’t think about independence, I didn’t know independence, and I was free to love it for whatever it meant to me.

Dr. Seuss said “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

And I’m like: “Heck yeah. My head, my brain, my feet, my shoes, and I get to choose. You go girl!”

I get to the station and as the feet in my shoes freeze, I wait for the train to take me to work. Because I choose to go to work! Wait! Wait a cotton-picking minute. I choose to go to work? I choose? Me? When did I choose that?

I see myself at the dining table where I organise my bills and finances, where I call the muses to help me find a way to make it to the end of the month, and I realise when, where and why I chose to go to work.

Alright, I still chose it. It’s all good. I am still independent. I still make my own choices.

The loudspeaker at the station squeaks and then pretends to have a human voice when it says that my train is cancelled due to the weather conditions. It is pouring out there.

As I make my way out of the station to get the bus, I take out my phone to let the Wicked Witch of the West know that I’ll be late due to the weather conditions. The Witch says nothing, but deep down I know she’s disappointed in me. This hurts. I make it my mission to get to work as fast as I can. Nothing else matters.

The school kids have turned the bus into their personal playground; screaming, laughing and shouting. We, the adults, are in their way. Ever since the ‘slap fest’, no adult wants to make eye contact with children this age — too young to be an adult, too strong and wild to be a child. Who knows? Better safe than sorry. I still don’t know what I’d do if some kid slapped me, while his friend filmed it and laughed.

The bus stops and they all get off. What a relief. There’s space, it’s quiet and I no longer hide my face from other passengers. I make my way up the stairs and find a seat on the upper deck of the bus. It is now in the hands of the driver, so I take my book out and I start to read.

The traffic is worse than bad. Despite all the bus lanes, we spend more time standing still than moving forward. As I get increasingly nervous, I can’t focus on my reading. I’m trying to look forward and work out if the traffic will ease up after the corner, or in the next street, perhaps after the roundabout or the traffic lights. I want it to get to my stop, so I can get out and run. I will run through the rain, just to get to work as quickly as possible.

The nervous feeling moves to my stomach and I’m starting to feel a little sick. That’s the last thing I’d ever choose. So I grab a newspaper someone left on the seat next to me, a Metro. I start to read. I can’t read, so I just flick through it. Pictures of happy people, doing fun and amazing things make me angry.

I flick to the entertainment pages. The jealous rage spreads through my whole being. I don’t know if I envy the actors or the roles they play, or the writers who had their ideas made.

I leave the newspaper and focus on my breathing. Now I am feeling positively sick. I want to vomit. Yet, NO! I do NOT want to vomit. My body wants to vomit, I do not. I want to scream like a banshee.

The bus turns a corner and my stop is only minutes away. I make my way to the exit, to stand by the door, so that I can bold out like a bullet from a gun the moment the bus gets to my stop.

I run down the street. Maybe I should have brought an umbrella, but then, it’s harder to run with an umbrella. My shoes are getting wet, and (somehow) my feet are getting wetter. I catch my own reflection in one of the large windows along the street. I look ghastly.

A crowd of people are standing in front of my office building. I stop running. Something’s going on. Why is everyone outside? My mind is racing as I approach the crowd of people hiding under umbrellas with the firm’s logo on them.

“Anabelle.” I hear the Witch’s voice. So I turn. “Well, what time do you call this?” She says looking at me. I can see my reflection in her eyes. I’m breathless, soaked, and grateful she can’t tell which parts of me are wet from the rain and which parts are wet from the sweat.

“I’m sorry, it’s…” I begin to say.

“Oh I know. The train. The bus. The traffic. We’ll talk about it when we get back to our offices.” She interrupts. I’m used to it. Her condescending tone no longer makes me want to bite her head off.

“What’s going on?” I ask pointing at everyone and no one in particular.

“Well, everyone else managed to get to work on time. For starters. So, maybe, that too should be included in accomplishments section?” She smiles and looks over at the man holding the umbrella that covers them both.

“And then we had a fire drill…” She went on, but I could hardly hear her. By that point a switch had gone in my head and I slapped her. I’ll never know how this happened. I’ve never ever hit anyone.

Long story short, I now get to choose between being homeless or moving in with my mother. Technically, this is still my choice.

I’ll try to be positive. It might not be so bad. I’m sure I’ll get to keep my head and my feet. Clearly my brain is not my own. What I know is… I’m not sure what I know and what that means. And as for shoes — oh, my darling shoes… What if I lose my shoes?

Still, I get to keep my head and my feet. In Biblical times, some people lost these. Right? I should be grateful I do not live in Biblical times. Or should I? After all, in Biblical times they didn’t have so much information, so they could enjoy ignorance. There were no bosses or buses, or workplaces and offices. Time was iffy at best (I imagine that when people tell time by looking at the position of the sun an hour here or there doesn’t make much of a difference), and they all wore the same shoes. I mean, Paul or Peter or whoever asked God for a feast not for money. I would have asked for independence. I think with that you get the whole package.

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