Price of Freedom

by Ellen Denton

There was an extended period of nothingness during which I was so insentient, the only reason I knew I lived at all was that sometimes, roused by a gentle swaying, I swam up to just below the surface of awareness. The rocking brought me dreamily up through the dark, after which I drifted, insensate again, back into oblivion.

One day, still in darkness, I was all at once awake and cognizant. Something pressed against me from all sides, holding me immobile. I closed my eyes and waited.

When I opened them again, faint, grey threads of light were filtering through whatever it was that enveloped me. I compulsively jerked, knowing in some instinctual part of myself that I had to get out of this shroud-like confinement, and I had to do it soon.  I forced myself into motion.

My efforts exhausted me, and I was about to sag back into immobility, when I spotted a nearly imperceptible seam in the tightness of the fabric; I could see it giving way with my feeble struggles. I could use this line of frailty as my way out.

My limbs were pinned, so I had no way of kicking or tearing through it. In a flash of insight, I inhaled as much air as my body could hold, which filtered in from tiny holes in the sheath around me. This expanded my body just enough to make a widening split in the fabric. Clean, white light knifed through the opening.

There was now enough space to slip a limb through and expand the rip. I made a rent in it wide enough for me to start fighting my way out.

With the renewed strength only the hope of freedom can bring, I maneuvered my body, tearing and struggling against my  prison until I was free.

I thought my ordeal was over, but there was a long drop to the ground below. If I released what hold I still had on the material that had previously encased me, I would plummet like a stone.

Feeling myself swallowed up by weariness, I clutched onto the fabric and held it like a vise. I needed time to muster my strength again. I positioned myself in such a way that I wouldn’t fall.

I don’t know how long I clung there like that, but this period of rest, along with the increasing warmth of the sunlight, renewed my strength and my resolve. I needed to get my blood flowing. It was time to make my move, and I did.


Life is so full of miracles, beauty, and joy! Mine stretches out before me now as though an eternity. I have a whole, entire month to live in the wide, shiny world. Thirty sunrises. Thirty sunsets. I know this in some instinctual part of myself. I knew it the moment I wafted my silken wings, let go of the chrysalis, and drifted off with the wind over the flower-laden field.

Ellen Denton is a freelance writer living in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and two demonic cats who wreak havoc and hell (the cats, not the husband). Her short stories have been published in over a hundred magazines and anthologies. She as well has had an exciting life working as a circus acrobat, a CIA spy, a service provider in a red light district, a navy seal, a ballerina on the starship Enterprise, and was the first person to climb Mount Everest.