Freedom Is Of The Mind , Never Of The Body— Short Story
Just open your mouth and see if the truth comes out.
Angela looked at the pavement, keeping her head down for as long as possible. Walking slowly, but not too slow. Straight home after picking up her son from school, no lingering anywhere. Nothing to raise suspicion.
Not that she had anything to fear, of course. She was white, and had already produced a son. Her position was safe. Safe enough. As long as she didn’t do anything stupid. Not that there was anything to do. Nothing to be stupid about. Freedom is of the mind, never of the body. She could dream the slogans they force-fed everywhere. Posters on the street, daily mails to remind her of her duty. Mails she couldn’t just filter out and delete, they’d know. So she kept her head down. Her head with her free thoughts.
Sometimes she liked to open her mouth and just wait, see if some of her thoughts would escape. If she spoke up, she would be silenced. No matter where, they’d be waiting. There were armies of social media controllers waiting for her to say something. To twist and turn. To cut her words out of context until she was cut down.
She made sure not to say anything by not saying anything. Silence could be held against you as well. She lowered her head and held on to Sammies little hand she was squeezing. Better to walk on and nod. Smile a little bit and pretend not to see anything. Silence was dangerous. Anything was dangerous nowadays. They’d call it neglect and they’d take your kids away.
So she remained silent. She liked walking along Pennsylvania Avenue, passing by the White House. Behind all those fences and guns, she knew there was someone who decided about the norm. Every day around three she would walk past the people who mattered, on her way to pick up Sammy from school. And she would keep looking at the pavement. But she would open her mouth as wide as she could. If anyone would look at her, they’d see a big fish searching for air. But nobody looked.
She never walked there with her son. Sammie didn’t know any of those things. Not yet. Perhaps it would all go back to normal before he would even notice. She shook her head, looking at the blond curls of her son. Who was she kidding. He already knew not to speak when he was outside. Not to touch anyone unless they told him it was okay. The kind of world they were living in, Angela didn’t know anymore what to call it. An alternative reality. She was still trying to figure out how to wake up. As were most of the people that were left. Most had gone. She didn’t know when or whether they had been forced to leave. One day they were simply not there anymore. Most houses were deserted. Moss growing on the steps that had always been kept perfectly clean.
Things change. Small things first. But some things remain. She opened the front door and they walked in, stepping over the layer of propaganda that was thrown through their mailbox. She helped Sammy take off his coat.
“Mommy.” The boy looked up to her with his big eyes. “What is the past?”
“The past is the time that is no longer here, honey.”
“Why not?” Sammy sat down on the floor to take off his shoes. He wrestled with his shoe laces before he gave up. She let him, impressed with his desire to learn, to help her.
“Time moves forward. There is always something new coming around the corner. And what is present now will be the past then.”
The boy looked confused, focusing on rubbing sand off his socks. “So we don’t like the present? Is that why it will be the past. So we can forget about it?”
Angela looked at her son. Perhaps there was hope after all. Perhaps there was a future for him somewhere, if only they could forget about the present they were dealing with.
“No, sweetheart. We simply live in the wrong present. But tomorrow, anything can happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is the future.”
“Will we have a wrong future too?”
Angela smiled. “Maybe. But if we try really hard, maybe the future is not going to be so bad.”