What is true freedom, is it from self or others?
| The good china cups rattled on the silver tray as she made her way slowly into the library. She was getting to the point that she could hardly stand living this life of servitude. Betsy's brown hair worn up in a bun was knotted as tightly as she could get it and it was starting to cause another headache. These headaches anymore were getting to be an accepted part of life. Her housedress was old but clean and pressed and her slippered feet made hardly any noise as she walked. As she pushed open the oak door with her hip, her gaze rested on the man who sat at the desk, furiously writing. He was a medium kind of man. Medium height, medium brown hair and eyes, but nothing out of the ordinary to attract any kind of attention. He wore a suit and tie all the time, even on his day off. His business always made her wonder what he did for a living. It was an unanswered question as she was always told "It doesn't matter what I do as long as you have a roof over your head". She had given up years ago, asking such questions about her husband's business. "Here is your tea and cake you asked for," she said in a voice that quivered. "Humpf" came the reply from the hunched man at the desk. "Put it on the sideboard and I will get to it when I'm damn good and ready for it". Her blue eyes started to well up with unshed tears as he continued "And go sit in that chair by the fire until I am ready to talk to you".
Besty made her way to her worn black chair by the fireplace after she had deposited her burden on the sideboard. She should be used to these Sunday morning routines, after all it had been a part of her life for the past 37 years. As she lowered herself into the chair that had been her Sunday prison for so many years, she thought of her life. No children had ever been born to them because he decided that children were not welcome into their home. She had watched her friends raising handfuls of children who laughed, played in the street and sang silly songs to their moms. Their sticky fingers were allowed to be put on their mom's cheeks as they were passing out their kisses to them. She had looked upon all of it with a longing in her heart that couldn't be satisfied in her life. "Woman" came a resounding demand from the man now standing at the side of the desk, "bring me my tea". Betsy pushed herself up from her seat and walked over to the sideboard to recover his precious tea. Walking slowly so as not to spill any of the golden liquid she made her way to him. The tray slightly quivered as she stood before him with the offering, hoping the routine would be over soon. She longed to climb back into the warm bed she had left as 5 AM this morning to try to get rid of the headache that was threatening to become a full blown migraine. The room was quiet except for the ticking of the grandfather clock that stood proudly in the corner of the room. A fire burning strongly in the fireplace popped every once in a while trying to warm a room that could not be warmed by anything. Under the piercing look he gave her, Betsy placed the tray on the desk as she started to get a cramp in her hand again. "Get that damn tray off of my desk woman, did I give you permission to set it there?" The china along with the tray and cakes went crashing to the floor with a loud crack as he swept it from the top of the desk. "Clean up that damn mess, you are such a stupid idiot", he roared. He huffed as he went over to the window to look out at his 20 acres of land that he owned. "Clean up that mess and bring me a brandy," he barked out. Betsy knelt down and slowly retrieved the broken pieces of the china cups from the floor and put them on the silver tray. This was almost the last of the china, as not much had survived his heavy hand and temperment. "Can't you even let the china alone without breaking all we have" she tried to say in a meek voice. He swooped over to her and grabbed a handful of her bun in his hand, jerking her head back so he could look at her. "Damn you woman, don't tell me what I can or cant do in my own house, you will listen to what I tell you to do, or you will regret you ever spoke to me in that tone of voice". He threw her head forward and it made a loud thump as it made contact with the sturdy desk. Tears flowed down her cheeks and they couldn't be stopped as she continued her chore. "And hurry up with that drink before I come over there and knock some more sense into you" Pain and anger mixed fastly in her heart. She reached up to the lump now forming on her forehead and knew that a bad bruise was now forming. "Damn him to hell", she thought in her mind. She comforted herself with that thought. Betsy stood and slowly made her way into the kitchen with the remains of her china, her cake and her tray.
It had come to this after all these years. "I have no strength left to fight him," she thought forlornly. Betsy's family was long gone, her mother had been a timid woman who had been under the domination of a tyrant of a man. Betsy's mother had died 20 years ago and her father had died 18 years ago in a bar brawl. No siblings were around, but she slightly remembered an aunt on her mother's side and one female cousin. She had lost track of them years ago. That was one reason he had consorted with her father years ago for her hand. He had gotten a good deal. It included 20 acres of prime land, some cattle and a dutiful wife. All Betsy had gotten was a roof over her head. Her husband's drinking had gotten more out of control after all these years and she didn't like what happed when he drank himself to oblivion.
Betsy went to the liquor cabinet in the kitchen and looked at the bottles lined up there. Well they were out of the brandy that he usually drank and she had not noticed it. She would have to make a mental note to pick it up at the store when she did her marketing on Friday. A bottle of expensive whiskey was the only other choice that she had to serve him. He only drank whiskey on festive occasions, but it would have to do. A shot glass was gotten from the cupboard and she carefully poured a shot of the whisky. Screwing the cap back on the bottle, she hoped she could pass it off to him without any trouble. She carefully carried it back to the library and said in a timid voice as she handed it to him, "We were out of brandy and all I had left was some whiskey so I brought that." He came up to her and looked at her. She started to tremble under his piercing glare and wondered what he would do now. "Woman, I should sell you to the highest bidder, you are nothing but pig swine, your just like your mother, no good, stupid and ugly". With that he grabbed the whiskey, drank it and spit it in her face. He laughed at her as she grabbed her apron and tried to get the burning whiskey out of her eyes. He took the glass and threw it at the fireplace watching it shatter and continued to laugh at her. She stood and cried and he came to her and slapped her in the face and hollered, "Quit your blubbering woman and get out of my sight."
He started to walk back to his desk and all of a sudden grabbed his chest and she heard a quick intake of breath from him. "Augh" was all he could manage to get out. Standing as if frozen Betsy quickly quite crying and looked at him. "Get my pills woman" he tried to holler to her, but only came out as almost a whisper. He fell to the floor gasping for air. "My pills, they are on my desk". She stood a few feet away, amazed at the scene she was watching. "My pills, came the whisper again. The gasps for air were coming quickly and then there was no movement and no requests coming from him. She stood for a while wondering what to do. She didn't want to go over to him in case he would grab her, so she just stood there watching for movement. After a few minutes of nothing happening, Betsy slowly walked over to her chair by the fire and sat down. She stared at the fire again for a while and watched the colors dancing over the logs. It was funny how all of a sudden her headache was gone. After about 15 minutes of sitting and watching the fire she got up and started on her way to the kitchen. "I need to get more cake ready and more tea made", she thought to herself "I am sure there will be a lot of company soon".