Friday Fictioneers–Free at last

Posted: September 11, 2013 in Family, Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m pulling my mind away from unpacking boxes and deciding where to store the contents when the old, familiar storage spots aren’t always available any more, to the more pleasurable task for crafting one hundred words to riff off a photo prompt. Yes, it’s Friday Fictioneers time once again (or in this case, Wednesday Writers). At the end of my story is a link which, if clicked, will lead you into other worlds of other writers. Take a minute to let me know, for better or worse, what you think of my story, then take a bit more time to explore some of the offerings for a variety of talented flash fiction writers.

Statue_on_the_HorizonThis week’s prompt is courtesy of Jan Wayne Fields and copyright to him.

Free At Last

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” danced in my head as I watched Jimmy sleep.  He, and our life, weren’t going to improve.   His symptoms grew worse daily. No money for experimental treatments, no close relatives, no opportunity for me to make friends, all made life harder.  Even working from home was difficult.

The newly-installed medical board decreed him “not a high priority.”  He was to me.  I loved him.

As I slipped the needle into his arm, my tears began to fall.

“Free at last.  Free at last.  Thank God, we’re free at last.”

Weren’t we?


How did I get here from this photo?  Something about the combination of open water and the Statue of Liberty said freedom to me, but not the freedom we normally associate with the Statue.  There are however, many types of freedom, illusory or real.

  1. That’s such a heartbreaking tale. I like how you started with freedom and came up with a very different take on it.

    • I’m glad you got that from it, David. Freedom sounds wonderful and generally is, but there’s more to it than just doing what you want. Like so much else (or perhaps everything else), it’s very complex and has both a dark side and consequences.


  2. tedstrutz says:

    He was to me. I loved him. Powerful words… makes me want to cry. Yes, freedom means many things. I think Janis was singing just for her and Jimmy.

  3. Ye Pirate says:

    Secretly complex tale wrapped nicely in fine English! Methinks you went political there, but I can assure you there are good sides to it too! I won’t go the statistics route as I agree with Mark Twain! I think you should get bonus points for originality…

  4. kz says:

    heartbreaking. i like this a lot– ‘ “not a high priority.” He was to me. ‘ it tugged at my heartstrings.
    and that question at the end! great.

  5. Tom Poet says:

    “Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
    Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
    For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
    An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
    An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.”-Bob Dylan

    Freedom is complicated to say the least. Well done Janet and one of my favorite lines from Janis.

  6. First of all, I have missed you on FF… welcome back.. secondly this is a fine and sentimental story… and I have a lump in my throuat from reading it… so sad when it ends without any options…

    • Thanks for the welcome back and the nice comment, Bjorn. It’s nice to be back but it was nice to be off when I had so much to do. As for the story, too often life seems to offer only undesirable options. Your story went down that path, too, although for very different reasons and without the love involved, except love of money.


  7. helenmidgley says:

    A heartbreakingly good job 🙂

  8. pattisj says:

    I can still hear Janis’ voice singing that line. It’s a heartbreaking story you’ve told.

  9. draliman says:

    A very sad tale, beautifully written.
    We hear so much these days about cases where “maybe such and such a treatment will help but it’s too expensive”, or “not a high priority” as you have written.

    • That’s a difficult situation. Although I think medical costs are often too high, many things are expensive because so much money goes into their development and into all the tries that didn’t work. And doctors and scientists certainly deserve remuneration for their skills. No easy answers and I think it’s only going to get worse. Certainly health care itself is getting much more expensive. Makes spending money on good food and time on exercise worth a lot!!


      • draliman says:

        Very true.
        I think I get annoyed because health care is free (I live in the UK) so I always expect to get whatever I need. However, the NHS (National Health Service) generally won’t pay for very expensive drugs if there’s only a tiny chance of an increased quality of life.

  10. Dear Janet,

    It’s about time! You’ve left Janet-size hole in the Linkz tool that’s tough to fill. Heartbreaking story and now I hear Janis. Beautifully written. Welcome back, friend. 😉



  11. summerstommy2 says:

    Hi Janet good to read your posts again. I like this, the idea of suffering and what to do when nothing can be done. It is a dilemma the world over. Lovely touch with the line from Bobby McGee to begin, for freedom is priceless.

  12. vb holmes says:

    Welcome back, Janet. Hope you’re somewhat settled in your new home but glad to see you haven’t lost your storytelling touch. Sad, but well done.

    • Thanks for the welcome back and the welcome comments, vb. Settling in and each day getting some boxes unpacked and things put away. I’m doing as much as I can without driving myself crazy. 🙂 At least I have time at this end.


  13. The two sides of freedom, this is a great story, Janet! One of your best.

    • Thanks very much, Perry! The break must have done me good. 🙂 I believe I’ll be offering you happy birthday wishes tomorrow, is that not so? Maybe I’ll get in with them early and wish you a wonderful day and year right now.


  14. How’s everything on Janet’s planet? Loved the Janis Joplin reference. In so few words, you’ve chronicled one of life’s most difficult and heartbreaking decisions. I you love someone, set them free! Ron

    • Things on Janet’s Planet are going well. The house sold, our things were moved, we’re together once again. The unpacking continues. 🙂 How are things in Ron’s World.

      Interplanet Janet (she’s a galaxy girl)

  15. Honie Briggs says:

    Oh Janet, the desperation came through loud and clear. Excellent and moving story.

    • Thanks very much, Honie. As an author, it’s good to know what the reader takes away from the story. Sometimes it’s very different from the intended meaning, but in this case, it worked.


  16. JKBradley says:

    At least one of them will have peace.

  17. Oh my goodness. This has touched a nerve. I can’t say any more than that.

  18. DCTdesigns says:

    Janet this is beautiful. I realize it may be an odd response. But I have had this conversation with many a friend who have wished the injection were easier to acquire. This is love if you ask me.

    FYI-I tripped up on the 3rd sentence first paragraph “no opportunity for me to make friends didn’t help.”. Perhaps if it said “no opportunity for me to make friends, nothing helped.”

  19. rgayer55 says:

    I’m afraid we’re all expendable from someone’s perspective. But I keep the faith that there is a great freedom on the other side. A very well written and touching story, Janet.

  20. Janet I love the honest feeling and struggle your mc faces. Freedom really is complex

  21. brainsnorts says:

    i never would have connected that concept with this picture, so hats off to you. suggestions:

    He and our lives weren’t going to improve.

    consider, “He, and our life, wasn’t going to improve.” commas for dramatic pause, bringing attention to the moment. “life” instead of “lives” because it more draws the two of you into one life instead of separate.

    As I slipped the needle into his arm, my tears began to fall.

    consider, “Before slipping the needle into his vein, my tears were already falling.”

    vein sounds more helpless than arm. arms are strength. veins are vulnerability.

    lovely piece.

  22. The unspoken part of that refrain is the theme of this story to me. Once there was nothing left to loose, he was free.

  23. Penny L Howe says:

    I enjoyed your take. Original idea but I can see how you’d get there from your comments after the story. Well written and very sad.

    • Glad you came by, Penny. I really don’t know where the idea came from but the “freedom” theme had to have been what started it. The mind works in mysterious ways sometimes, but at least it was working. 🙂


  24. unspywriter says:

    A wonderfully poignant interpretation of freedom this picture represents. After all, when we’re finally free of pain, we are free. Wonderfully expressed.

    Here’s mine:

    • Thanks, Maggie. Jimmy is free, but I’m not sure his sister will be. A decision like that would likely haunt you forever, even if you thought it was for good reason.


  25. nightlake says:

    Emotional tale. Great job

  26. erinleary says:

    An homage to the 70s with the song and quotes….freedom from pain is one of the most crucial things for us humans.

  27. denmother says:

    Another excellent story, janet.

  28. Linda Vernon says:

    Wonderfully developed in 100 words. And that last thought of doubt was chilling. Really, so well done!

  29. Very good – mine is posted.

  30. Joyce says:

    It is kind of frightening to think that there could be such real scenarios with the ‘Obama health care’ and life or death decisions made for us when we cannot make them for ourselves or have a loved do it for us. A vivid story, and not so far from reality.

  31. You took me down an unpleasant road I didn’t want to take! It was deep, vibrant and well written. I felt pain and despair, final choices. Not pleasant, but well done!

  32. Such a sad story, but even sadder because it’s true for so many people. Powerful.

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading. I know there are people who make that choice and I’m sure many others consider it, if only in passing. It’s difficult to see a loved one suffer and have no relief.


  33. annesquared says:

    Awesome and excellent!

  34. Janet, I like how started with this song and ended in a completely different place, although a sad place. There’s hope and then there’s disappointment, clearly felt here.

    I still like that I have until Friday for my story! hee hee

  35. Janine says:

    Wow. Your story is moving and powerful, especially because it is so near to the truth for families enduring medical hardships. I feel sad about the girl because in my mind she isn’t going to be free. I don’t see that; I think she will be tortured by the memory.

  36. Pretty heavy take on the prompt! But a story that must be faced all the same. I expect that she will be free and like everything awful we have to deal with, she will compartmentalise this episode, stowing it away in the back of her mind, so it will only haunt her on those sleepless nights, before she resorts to valium…

    • Could be. But perhaps she’ll be one of those who get help dealing with it and emerge stronger and wiser. We can but hope. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Sunday.


  37. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    Can lyrics dance? And are they both committing suicide? I like this story, but must be addle-pated for I have too many questions that others do not. Is there a veiled political statement here?



    • The story itself is simple, although the implications and consequences aren’t. Her brother has an unspecified disease or condition that is worsening, making both their lives very difficult. The board that decides who gets treatments doesn’t see him as a priority, whether from age or because he won’t recover or for whatever reason, so he isn’t able to get the expensive treatment he’d need to stabilize or at least somewhat control his condition. She’s giving him something to kill him. Is it assisted suicide? Is it murder with good intentions? Is it right or wrong? You decide.

      I think my explanation is probably longer than my story, but that’s what was in my mind. As for lyrics dancing, I certainly find them dancing in my head so I’m guessing they might in hers as well.


  38. Sarah Ann says:

    I like the way you interpreted the prompt. You story is so sad and touching – the pain and reasons for the course taken tangible.