Escaping Into Freedom (a short story) 🔊


His ivory walking stick made a harsh, clicking noise against the cobblestone as he walked down the empty alley towards his home on Elm Street. His steps reveled his frustrated thoughts, a mind caught in a circle of pride, judgement and impatience. He looked back on his evening with disgust. Another night amongst the so called social elite, filled with boring conversations and meaningless flattering. Impeccable acting within the rules of society. A game he was raised to master to perfection, with a polite smile on his face, but which he secretly dispised. “Fools“, he thought to himself. “Sheep running around aimlessly, lost without their herding dogs. Never questioning or reflecting, unaware of the fence surrounding them.

He himself was painfully aware of that fence. He’d learned to find its holes though, the cracks through which he – if he removed his hat, his clothes and his walking stick – could press his long lean body and escape for a moment. There he would dwell in the soothing beauty of freedom, in a place ruled by truth not doctrines, acceptance not judgement, understanding not rules. A simple place of honest existing. There he could love freely; an including, unconditional, limitless love. There he could be what he really was: free.

Eventually he always had to crawl back though, back to the responsibilities and duties of his privileged position. His mother sometimes looked at him with worry in her eyes. A mother knows a son’s sorrows. “Why don’t you marry, my child?“, she’d say in an attempt to ease his pain, but her words always came out empty, with a lingering echo from her own soul. For the freedom that was haunting him with its absence was haunting her too. They were wearing the same shackles, born into responsibilities toward those around them – not only family, but also servants, staff, the farmers depending on them. He was grateful for his privileged lot in life and he tried to fulfill his responsibilities, but sometimes he asked his God why his lot had not come with a matching mind. A mind capable of simply enjoying the game he had been asked to play, unaware of the existence of another world. A mind unacquainted with questions like ‘why’ and ‘what if’, uninterested in the truth. “Like those fools this evening“, he said out loud, and the unexpected anger in his voice had him suddenly stop mid-step.

The hit came from behind, without a warning. He lost his balance and tumbled to the ground, his back-head exploding in pain. In a dizzy gaze he saw the three men, their eyes filled with self-justice, their hearts emptied by hunger and despair. They turned him over, quickly stripped him of his clothes and showeled them into a sack. One of the men saw the signet ring on his pinky finger and swore as he struggled to get it off. “Let’s go, let’s go” he heard a voice hiss as distant footsteps came closer, and then an ice cold sensation filled his chest.

The irony daunted upon him, and a broken attempt of a laughter escaped his lips as he drew his last breath. He pressed his naked body through the fence and escaped into freedom.

‘Escaping Into Freedom’ is part of a collection of short stories picturing the final thoughts and feelings of characters of different times and circumstances as they surrender to life and embrace death.

Changing The Story


I don’t know why it happened this time, but I’m back again
My body ice cold, aching, I can feel each individual cell fighting to survive
Emotionally, I’m experiencing dying
Mentally, I feel blank

I’ve made it alright through an intense day of meetings
Like a dying flower I’ve given it my all
But now, back in my hotel room, the exhaustion is overwhelming and I sink down on the carpet in the middle of the room and let my head rest against an armchair

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It used to happen mainly in hospital situations
Going from calm and rational to fighting for my life in a split second, something no one would believe until they’d witnessed it themselves
Subconscious fear, consciously irrational, leaving me exhausted for days afterwards
But lately: this feeling of dying

I close my eyes, knowing there is hard work to be done
I empty my mind and I let myself travel… 


I see her there in the darkness in front of me, a child lying on the icy road
I kneel beside her and ask her what she needs
“Get me off this road!!!”, a hissing sound, despair in her voice
So I lift her up and I move her over to the shoulder

I put my arms around her and ask her what she needs
“I’m cold”, she whispers, “Blankets.”
So I wrap her in thick woollen blankets

I gently rub her wrapped up body and ask her what she needs
“Is there anywhere safe I can take you?” I wonder
“Is there anyone I can bring here to make you feel safe?”
I make suggestions, but she doesn’t answer
I can feel the bottomless fear inside of her
Nothing seems to give her comfort
So I hold her as best as I can
An unsafe little girl next to a road in the cold winter night

Suddenly a white horse appears out of the darkness, and there is some relief in her voice as she cries out “Shazmir, you came back!”

“Can you light candles all around us?” she asks after some silence
So I light thousands of candles in a circle around us
Brighting up the dark night

I ask her what more she needs
But she shakes her head and only says “please stay here with me tonight”
So I stay with her


Me, a beautiful white arab horse, flickering candles and a petrified girl wrapped in woollen blankets
She, waiting for death
Me, waiting for the morning
And I cry the tears I need to cry for not being able to protect her
For not being able to make her feel safe


Slowly, slowly dawn is coming
A pale winter sun breaking through the darkness
I ask her what she needs
She seems confused by the daylight and her answer comes slowly, but reluctantly she admits she needs to go home
So I put her on Shazmir’s back – it takes some tries to find a position that does not hurt her too much – and we commence the slow walk back home in the crispy winter morning

I ring the doorbell
Her parents open and I ask her what she needs
“I need to lie on the couch in the living room. From where I can see the ocean.” she replies
So we put her on the couch, and I ask her what she needs
“I need my family around me” is her answer
“I need them to talk and laugh and play right here next to me, so that I can still belong. I need to feel their joy that I’m there, not their sadness that I’m hurt.”
So the family gathers in the living room with her, continuing their lives by her side
Whilst she heals on a green couch – not in a dungeon by herself

I stay around for a while, watching her spirit rise, her face shifting, her body relaxing
But eventually I know I’m not needed anymore
I can hear her bubbling laughter as I sneak back into my own world
Knowing that she’s safe
That she won’t even miss me
Now that we have changed the story forever


Quadrilogy Of Silence


There’s a pain within me
It feeds on my teenage soul
Pain is contagious, I have learned that
My pain always becomes their pain
And I want to shield them from this pain
My family
This pain needs to be controlled

They shall never feel my pain
Because I love them


My pain finds me hiding places where it can breathe its heavy breath
I move into the house next-door
Their house is for laughter, my house is for tears
Sometimes I have to run the last steps at night to make it
The tears overflow before I put the key in the lock, and I fall to the floor as I close the door behind me
Safe in silent solitude

Some pain can only exist at certain temperatures
It naturally evaporates in an environment warmed up by love and connection
Somewhere on the way from their house to my house the temperature drops and the pain rains down on me

They shall never see my pain
Their love is too warm


My pain has no beginning, no middle, no end
No story, no thoughts, only hazy intangible feelings
Real pain should have reasons, I know that
Reasons other than ungratefulness and guilt, spiralling away
Because I am blessed with all I could ever want!
It would break their hearts to know that was not enough

They shall never hear my pain
My pain has no words


Only if I’m silent can I shield them
Only when I hide can I be me
Only if I’m silent can I shield me
Only if I run will I be free

So I run
Further and further away

and before that…

The Dungeon

I am chained to a hospital bed
Chained with a metal pin through my shin, attached to a structure with weights stretching my leg away from my tattered hip
To give it space to heal


They drilled a hole
I was high so I laughed at the tingling vibration as it pushed through my shin bone
Until it hit the nerves on the other side
Skin bubbling out
And I cried out in pain
Mum holding my hand

And then they chained me

Bruised and battered and broken they chained me
Until I have healed, the doctors said, vaguely
Until the pain is gone
As if the pain would ever go away…


I’m fourteen years old and this room is my dungeon
They bring me food
They treat allright
They allow visitors to come and to leave
And all I can think of is leaving, too

Doctors ask me how I’m doing
I play their game

Only if I’m silent will I be free


I share my dungeon with three other beds
Sometimes there are small, small people in them, parents holding their tiny hands
One three-year old boy with epilepsy stays for maybe a week
Having seizures every night
But then he goes, too

But I’m staying in the dungeon
Chained to my bed
Not feeling
To eventually be set free, too

I dream of running almost every night
I wake up from the pain of having pulled my leg towards me with all my strength in a dream attempt to run away
No one holding my hand


Finally, the day they take me out of my chains
The test
Not of my body, but of my willpower
“Does not hurt” I say
And they set me free

and before that…

In Transfer

I guess I’m lucky
I’m sure they told me

I should be grateful


A cute young doctor rolls me out of the intensive care yard
I’m being transferred to the children’s hospital
He seems hostile
I feel shy

Mum tells me I screamed and swore at the doctors the night before as she brought me in to the emergency yard
I went havoc when they tried to put the IV in
I did not make a good impression, apparently

I look at my blue arms
I cannot bend them due to all the bruises from punctured veins
My body is sore and battered
Numb and in pain at the same time
I feel the embarrassment amongst her fear, relief, chock
Her trauma

So I bury my experience under a layer of guilt and shame
And I leave it there


No one asks how I feel
What I felt

I, least of all

and before that…


Blue monitors shining a pale light in the dark yard
Humming noises from machines
I’m gone again


Fluorescent light
My body shut down
The numbed presence caused by pain too strong to handle
A blurry awareness of a black leg
I’m gone again


The sudden burning pain of a tube being shovelled down my throat
Needles in my arms, in my hands
Every cell of my body trying to push the foreign objects out
But I cannot move
I’m gone again


Car lights on the road in front of me
Magical power lifting me up
The inhuman strength of a mother saving her child
The excruciating pain of being moved shutting down the short glimpse
But before that: relief?
I’m gone again



Three remarkably clear thoughts:
1: no one will look for me
2: I’m in the middle of an unlit road, the next car coming will kill me
3: I have to MOVE!!!

I try to drag myself off the road, but I’m incapable of moving even an inch
I fight to stay conscious, to stay in the glimpse
To save myself
I’m gone again


There is no accident

There is the before:
The point of insight that this is not going to end well
The low January sun is still up
And the after:
It’s dark and I’m on the road

I don’t have the in between
The place where all change happens


Standing At A Window Looking In


In Sweden, we celebrate Advent. During the last days of November we dust off the tucked away advent stars and hang them in every window. We go into the frozen woods for cowberry twigs to make wreaths for the doors and to decorate the four-armed advent candle holder, to ensure it is flammable. We harvest advent calendars; this year’s TV advent calendar and Radio advent calendar and chocolate advent calendar, and then we make a few arty home-made ones to give to friends and family as well, to really share the love. After months of cold greyness there is no limit to the excitement of Christmas coming to save us, and we’re determined to make the most of it by opening as many ‘luckor’ and presents as we possibly can, whilst bathing in the warm, safe light of Betlehem stars before January’s darkness once again embraces us.

Finally, on the 1st Sunday of Advent, we gather in excitement to switch on the lights. We unravel the mysteries as we open closed doors and light the first candle in the advent candle holder (preferably accompanied with a profound poem of the magnitude of “On the FIRST Sunday in Advent, the FIRST candle light is tent”. Where ‘tent’ means ‘lit’.) 

Swedes take their traditions very seriously. As we do most things in life.


There are no advent stars in my windows this year. There is no wreath on the entrance door, and no home-wrapped calendars waiting to be opened. I’m admitting I’m resisting it. To me, it doesn’t belong here in the tropical heat. Here, Christmas is a reflection of what I’ve sacrificed, and I’m standing on the outside looking in. 

So I make you a proposal.

I want to be part of, too. I want to give myself the gift of feeling seen. It’s four weeks until Christmas, and instead of chocolate I offer you one feeling a day. Old (and maybe new) stories and poems and thoughts (some that I’ve been too self-conscious to share) behind numbered closed doors for you to open. ‘Luckor’ to my soul. To all our souls.

Today is 3rd of December, 1st of Advent. The first candle is about to be lit, and this is the story accompanying it:


there’s a little girl standing at the window looking in


inside a fireplace is burning, the Christmas tree is lit
family and friends are gathered, laughing and playing
the little girl smiles as she watches their joy
standing at the window looking in


outside it’s dark, it’s a cold winter’s night
the little girl shivers, oblivious
her attention is inside, absorbing the joy through the layers of glass
soaking up feelings like an old dried out sponge


in her heart, she’s in there with them
in the room warmed up by love and fire

in her heart, there is no glass between them
no window to look through

and so she never thinks of asking
if she could come in to the warmth
through the front door



We go on an adventure
A road trip to the west side of our city
You get your root canals filled
I go on vacation: Lebanon, Afghanistan, West Africa

I walk the streets and the world moves through me
Me and life, experiencing each other
Me and life exploring together with childlike awe


“Abdul’s Nuts”
“Mina’s Bakery – oregano, cheese, pizza.”
“No oregano after 4pm”, a sign declares inside

I love signs
I breathe in the words and let them fill me up
In these signs I am a foreigner
I read and smell and hear a far away world
Here, on the west side of our city


Your root canals are eventually full enough
I return from vacation and we continue our road trip together
Both excited
Heading west again
For a business trip to Alexandria and a cultural mini-holiday in Darlinghurst
But I don’t know that

To me, it’s you and me and life having fun
To me it’s simply Adventure