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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2205982
Some things cannot be escaped. Written for the Writer's Cramp, 11/20/19.

It took some time for the news to sink in, the reality was that I was alone. There was no one to advise me any more, no one to tell me what to do. I was a free agent. The thing was I did not feel like it.

I grieved, of course I did. There was a big gaping hole in my life where he had been. And maybe we had not been getting along so well for the past few years, but that didn't mean that he'd not be missed. I'd cared. Of course, I had. Let's face it, if I hadn't I'd have been long gone.

He was the sort of person that believed that everything had its place and should always be put in it. The fact that we were so different in that regard should have rung some warning bells, for it was bound to be far from the only one. I thrived in disorganised chaos; the order that he favored, and insisted upon, made me uncomfortable at best. I'd made my choice though, and there was no point in my complaining.

Now don't get me wrong. I was allowed to buy things I liked, if I could afford them. If I did go ahead and buy something, it was up to me to find somewhere to put it, somewhere hidden so it would not be visible to him. My precious things were packed in boxes while his were put on display.

With his passing I had freedom, didn't I? I barely dared change a thing. There were marks on the furniture; even though he was not there to tell me, their 'proper position' was evident.

The first time I exercised my new-found independence, I moved a vase. Only slightly, a couple of inches to the left, but even so I felt like I'd done something so daring, so... bad.

The following morning it was back in it's proper place; it had been no more than a dream, then.

Perhaps it was at that moment that my defiance was born. I did nothing for a couple of days, other than make plans of the changes I was going to make. I'd take down that picture that he had insisted was 'proper art' and I'd replace it with one of my own. The things he had deemed acceptable would be packed away, and my own treasures would be put where I could easily see them.

It was a Saturday when I set to work, making my own mark on my living space. I'd still felt some twinges of guilt, knowing how disapproving he would be. But he was gone and I was left; it was time I showed some confidence in my own taste.

When I had finished I had stood back to take it all in. For the first time ever, I'd felt comfortable in my own living room. I'd curled up on the sofa, hearing his voice telling me to sit properly, as though I were just a child. I read a book and when I'd felt tired I'd left it on the coffee table, the one that I'd dragged nearer to the sofa for exactly that purpose. I'd even left my mug there. He'd have been horrified; all washing up was to be done before retiring, according to him. Well, I'd do it my way and see to it in the morning.

That night I'd slept soundly. Perhaps it was tiredness brought on by the physical effort that I had put in to making the changes, or maybe it was the mental effort of standing up for myself. Whichever it was, I'd not had such a good sleep in years.

The following morning, I'd got up and without getting changed from my pajamas I'd made my way downstairs. In the kitchen, I'd brewed myself a coffee, not tea, before heading off to the living room.

I'd opened the door and gasped at the sight that met my eyes. Certain things had been moved in the night. The coffee table had been upended, the mug I'd left on top of it had shattered. The book, one of my favorites, looked as though it had been hurled across the room. Pages had been ripped from it, many more had been torn. The picture that I had so recently hung now lay on the ground, its frame broken in two.

I might have thought that there'd been a break-in apart from one thing. Everything of his that I had left unmoved was still in its proper place. Nothing of his had been broken.

I'd run from the room, shakily got dressed, before I'd made my way back downstairs to clean up the wreckage. With trembling hands, I'd packed up the few things of mine that somehow had managed to stay in one piece; the remainder I had tearfully consigned to the trash. In defeat, I had put his precious things back where they belonged.

He might have left me in body, but I have no doubt whatsoever that his controlling influence lingers on, and that it will never set me free.

(854 words)

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