Freedom, every one of us has a different definition of freedom. Some define freedom as something to be celebrated with; others define it as being able to do anything the heart desires. And there are others who define freedom as being able to walk away without ever looking back.
Oh yes, I almost forgot about the last set of people that define freedom as a fragment of one’s imagination, for them freedom never exists, there’s no such thing as freedom, it’s one’s wishful thinking only, always hoping to achieve but never having it.
We’re staying at Kim’s friend’s vineyard just outside Paris, I had fun with my cousins during our trip to Prague and Paris, we never did go to Monaco because we decided to go taste some wine, it’s harvesting season and Kim’s friend Pierre invited us to stay, so here we are.
Karl’s drinking in stupor again. I can’t talk to him, I know I’m close with Karl but this time it’s different I have this feeling that even if I do talk to him, I will not reach him. I don’t know how to reach him, the truth is I never know how.
He’s the cousin that I trust the most alright but you see, it has always been about me. I don’t know Karl at all, as much as it hurts to admit it, it’s true, I’ve never known the real Karl. I’ve never asked him. So now you see, I don’t know how to talk to him, I’m afraid that he’ll just turn away from me and I don’t want to lose him.
And I know, I will lose Karl if he doesn’t stop from being a bad influence to himself. That’s why there’s Kim, he’s the best friend. He understands Karl more than anyone, I guess.
So I asked him to talk to Karl and of course he agreed.
Now, here I am listening to their conversation, they’ve been at veranda for two hours now and I just want to know, I know it’s eavesdropping but I have to know so I snuck out and hid at the alcove near the sliding door.
“Mary’s worried about you.” Kim tells Karl, I edge closer to the glass window to look at them, I’m not satisfied with just hearing them, I need visuals. “I don’t like Mary worrying about anyone else right now so could you please refrain from drinking for a little while? You can drink all you want but not in front of Mary.”
My eyes widen, that’s it? He’s not going to ask Karl or even tell him to stop? Kim really, putting me first before anyone else. I shake my head ruefully.
“I don’t think I can stop Kim. I don’t like myself when I’m sober.” Karl raises his head, looks up the sky and takes the bottle of beer in his mouth. “I don’t like the drunk me too.” He chuckles. “I hate myself, Kim.” And I hear the pain in his voice, the hatred. “Every damn time I look in the mirror I see myself and the ugliness of what I’ve done.” Karl’s pain echoes through the wind. “I killed a man.”
“Michael’s alive, Karl.”
Karl shakes his head, throws the bottle his holding in the trellis. “And he’s going to live his life on medications because of what I’ve done.”
“Karl, it wasn’t your fault.” Kim says, he takes a swig from his bottle of beer. “Stop blaming yourself.”
Karl forces a smile at Kim and stands up. He walks over the rails, looks up to the sky. “I ran and hid behind my family’s back.” Karl turns his gaze to Kim. “I’m a coward Kim. I can’t even break free from the grasps of my parents. I told myself that last year would be different, I’d slowly break free from them, I won’t let them control me but look at me now!” he swings open his arms then flops it down. “I’m being controlled by them. I’m still following their fucking directives and this time Kim they hold the ammunition. I’m slaved to them forever.” His voice cracks and I feel the pain in his voice, God. Was Karl always suffering like this? “I can’t ever be a disappointment to them again, I need to be the meek obedient son they have always wanted me to be. The fucking perfect son for the fucking perfect family.”
I see Kim look startled for a second then he masks it with his serious face. “Karl, what are you talking about?” he asks, he doesn't understand but I do. I understand Karl’s pain, his parents have always been strict, they’ve always want Karl to obey their every orders. He must never make mistakes but Karl, he defied them before, and he showed them that he would never be what they wanted him to be.
But now, I see that he’s finally relenting to them, he’s surrendering because of what he did. Because of what they did to make it go away.
Karl closes his eyes then opens it to stare at Kim with his pain showing. He shakes his head and smiles ruefully. He’s not going to tell Kim because he knows that some things are meant to be hidden. “Someday, when I find a way to rebel again then I would come to their house and say ‘Fuck you’ and just leave.” He says determined of this future of his. “Someday, I’m going to make a big scandal that they don’t have a place to run and hide to.”
“I think that’s wrong. I know you’re angry with your parents, you’ve always been angry at them. I know that, we’ve been friends for a very long time and I’ve noticed it. But it won’t change anything Karl. If you want true freedom then do something that you really like because it isn’t freedom if you’re doing it just because you know they won’t approve. If you do that then that just means they still have a hold on you.”
Karl nods thinking it through, “Maybe. Maybe not.”
I feel a warm hand on my shoulder and I stand up gasping, I turn and see Pierre smiling his right hand on the back of his neck. “Eavesdropping.” He makes a tsk sound as he waves his point finger. His heavy French accent is really something. I wish he’d say more English.
I look over my side and see Karl and Kim quietly drinking their beers. “I’m not eavesdropping.” I deny.
He raises his eyebrow at me and I do feel intimidate by that stare.
“Okay maybe I was.” I smile sweetly at him probably thinking it’d work on him.
He shakes his head and laughs silently. “Come I’ll escort you back to your room.” He says and motions me to follow him.
I sigh and take a one final look at the window. I start to walk towards Pierre, Karl speaks again and I pause to let his words register. “Mary will need you soon Kim. She’s slowly waking up from her fantasy that they actually care about her.”
I flinch at his words. I don’t know it just hurts to hear it from Karl. Pierre heard it too so he doesn't make me hurry.
“I can’t be there when it happens. As much as I want to I can’t so you’ll do.” Karl says, what did he mean by that?
“Dude, you’re not making any sense.”
“Kim, Mary’s going to be eighteen soon.”
Karl laughs bitterly, “So she’ll wake up from her fantasy and rushed back in to reality, a reality that’s so cruel…”
Pierre tugs me and pulls me away from the alcove, he walks me to my room silently, I’m still trying to figure out what Karl meant with his words. When we reach my room, I say good night to Pierre and enter my room.
I press my back on the door and recall what Karl said in the veranda. I know he was probably talking about me and my need for my parents’ approval and all, he’s wrong though, I did wake up from that one.
I did realize I do not need their approval and that I’m never going to get their attention. I know that, I’ve known that since I was a child and yes I admit that there was a time in my life that I longed for them to see me, to look at me, I was desperate for them then but I’ve always known I would never get it and yet I hoped.
There was nothing wrong with hoping only that it will probably hurt if you let yourself hope for more, I did hope for more and it hurt a lot.
So now, I’m wondering what was he talking about? What will happen when I turn eighteen?
“Are you settled in?” Kim asks over the phone, I’m back in Germany, I’m at the hospital to be exact. I just got admitted and Kim had to go to Hamburg with mom and my cousins for some family party.
I didn’t go well obviously because I’m scheduled to be here at the hospital and Kim wanted to stay too but I forced him to watch over Karl. He’s still drinking, I don't think the talk he had with Kim in Paris worked.
I look over my room, it’s pretty nice and cozy. I have a window that overlooks the garden and my, the garden is so beautiful, filled with so many different flowers. My room doesn’t look much of a hospital room if you’d take away all the machines. It looks normal, I guess, with a flat screen TV on the wall, a sofa set on the side and there’s a desk.
Kim asked for the desk, he needs to work through his research and well he’ll be here most of the time so he needs to be more comfortable, so a desk it is. Mom adores Kim so she agreed within seconds.
“Yes. Are you enjoying yourself?” I ask, I grab his Ipad that he left behind for me. I unlock the screen and notice that he changed his wallpaper again, it was us in a cafe in Paris.
“No.” he mumbles. “Your cousin is making a move on me.”
I chuckle. “Good for you.”
“Did I mention that I’m talking about a male cousin?”
“Good luck with that.” I say, looking at the Ipad and looking for a game to play, I’m bored and the Xbox won’t be coming today. “Oh bring me some sausage.”
He sighs. “Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow or maybe tonight if I fake a headache.” He says. “Call me if you need anything.”
I tell him what he needs to hear for him to just hang up and I can play again. I’m playing Temple Run, back in school, I got addicted to this game, it’s a cool game.
He hangs up and I concentrate on playing Temple Run while I wait for the nurse to come and escort me for a CT scan.