The Freedom Box

This challenge was to write a short story that ends with the sentence: “She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled to herself”:


Despite the rain pelting the earth in this small town, Agatha felt a ray of sunshine in her heart, permeating her soul. The skies were dark and the air was cold, but all Agatha saw was bliss.

Just two days ago she was deeply in depression, thinking about making an exit on her so-called-life. Full of pain and abuse ever since she could remember, Agatha was growing tired of living only to survive another day. She longed for the peace that she felt only her leaving this life could bring her. Whether she made an ascent or a descent when leaving this existence, it mattered not.

In her childhood years she suffered at the hands of her father, physically, emotionally and sexually. And now, for five years she has been abused by her husband as well.

When Agatha was eleven years old, she met a gypsy woman on the outskirts of town. Her name was Raya, and she was stopped in her motor home for the night as she was traveling cross country. Agatha was taking a stroll one morning to escape her father, when Raya spotted her and approached her. She invited her in for some cookies, and it turned out to be a day Agatha would never forget.

Raya possessed a keen sense of awareness that bore straight through Agatha, exposing her deepest self. She shared fascinating stories of her life as a gypsy and Agatha was entranced! She longed to experience the freedom this woman has made her life.

When their visit was over, Raya gave Agatha a box. It was very small, with a ruby stone embedded in the center of the lid. When she tried to open it, Raya stopped her. She said it was a special box that would open only once, on the day that Agatha was to claim her own freedom. She would know the time. She would know. She instructed her to carry this box with her at all times so that it could become one with her and know just what to do, as if it had a conscience of its own.

Agatha did as instructed, and as the years went by, putting the box in her pocket whenever she dressed became second nature and she did so without even thinking about it. She knew not what it would do, or how it would help to free her from the bonds that tied her to pain, but she trusted Raya with every ounce of her being.

Just two days ago, at the lowest point in her life, Agatha was walking to the market to get fixings for her husband’s supper. He wanted spaghetti and meatballs. She always had to prepare exactly what he wanted or she’d have to pay with bruises to her tender form. She hated spaghetti and meatballs. She hated him.

She planned on taking her life that night, after he was well fed and sleeping. But then she felt it… the box in her pocket began to vibrate and grew warm to the touch. She didn’t know what to do, so she left it alone and continued with her business, assuming it would not need any action on her part to complete its task.

The box continued to vibrate and hold a warm temperature throughout the evening, as Agatha shopped, prepared dinner and sat at the table with her husband, watching him eat like the pig of a monster that he is. Oh how he disgusted her, but she knew that she would soon be free, for the box that Raya gave her has been activated to fulfill it’s promise.

Soon after his meal, Dan, her husband, decided to go to the corner pub for some drinks and some pool. This was new, she thought, as he always went straight to bed after eating. It must be the influence of the box, she thought to herself, and held onto hope so tight it had no choice but to become one with her.

Two days later, on this rainy day, Agatha’s husband has still not returned since he left that night. She felt hope, she felt peace, for she knew deep down that he was never coming back. Walking on to the market to prepare a meal of her own choice, she touched the little box in her pocket and smiled to herself.

~Brenda Barnhart

Copyright © 2004 Brenda Barnhart