It had been a good day.
By his own standards it had been a good day.
Not too much stress.
Just enough productivity.
But still he worried about what might happen tomorrow.
He knew he was trapped.
That matter had long been resolved.
One thing shackles do for you is to convince you that you are being held by forces greater than your own.
Not the kind of shackles that were made of steel and chain but the shackles of the mind.
Trapped inside the confines of a marriage that held no future and no future was death.
He remembered a dream he had had where he was driving his car down a steep road that led into a gorge until it got so narrow there was no way out.
He was stuck. The car could go no further forward.
All he could do was get out and crawl over the back of the car and try and find his way out of the predicament he was in.
In many ways it was hopeless.
It was true he had that it was possible to be lonely living with people.
You needed people around you.
Children were not the same as a partner, a partner who cared enough to share your intimate most secrets and value you as a human being.
He had long given up being valued.
Being used was more to the point.
As a punching bag, as a driver, as a slave, as a target for all that was and went wrong.
His children as they grew older saw the shackles, the financial, emotional, obligatory bonds that held him.
The older ones urged him to get out but he didn’t.
He held strongly onto the ethic of marriage being the sanctity of the children.
He had resolved to stay around and provide for them as best he could.
But to do this was at a cost to himself.
He became more and more withdrawn.
His social skills, which were never a strong point, suffered because he felt the need to hide from people lest they know the torment he was in.
And so within the confines of his marriage he hid.
He hoped they never knew he sometimes worked until two or three in the morning finishing housework the jailor left because it was never her job.
That he sometimes had to sleep on the floor.
That on countless nights he would wait until everyone was asleep before going into the spare bed, or curl up with one of his children who may have called out sometime during the night.
His jailor would accuse him of all sorts of terrible crimes.
She knew he avoided her, at every chance he did so.
His jailor would berate him for not being a man, for not being like the jailor’s father who was a strong and god fearing man, the perfect role model for any man she long thought. Even though she did in fact fear him herself.
Always he was up before anyone else. He could not stand the humiliation of discovery.
And so he played a game, he pretended, he pretended he was happy.
But in the back of his mind he knew that one day, and one day soon he would escape the shackles and find freedom.
He did not know when or how he might achieve this but it was as sure as day was day that it was going to happen.
And when it did, he did it with great ease.
He knew the time had come.
He knew it was time for him to take charge.
He knew it was time to break free.
Stepping aside was not so hard.
He sought refuge in his mother country.
He was gladly taken in.
He set out to make a new life.
But a hand spurned can reach out from great distances and still exact revenge.
He struggled with his incarcerated children.
Sometimes they were home and more often than not they were not. Taken out as he was about to visit.
It mattered little to the jailor that he had rights or that he had made arrangements.
She made the children feel guilty for seeing their father.
Quizzed them cruelly.
So they found it easy to say no when he asked them out.
For this he did suffer.
He felt guilt, mighty guilt that this was how things were.
In many ways he was still shackled.
He was still in the grip of the jailor.
But there was no going back.
Never did he think of such a thing.
He had tasted freedom and in his mind freedom was priceless.
The battles were still to be waged and he fought them as best he could.
The jailor had in many ways become an object of ridicule.
His children were astounded by her nerve, by her callousness, by her lack of regard for him and for those children who ‘sided’ with him.
The psycho bitch they called her.
She believed she held the upper hand and extracted her vengeance in monetary ways.
She had promised to cripple him financially and she set out to do just that.
In many ways she had succeeded.
That’s what vindictive people are good at.
He had a debt that would haunt him all his working life.
With many tenuous threats she hung onto him.
But over time the jailor was isolated.
Her children abandoned her.
But with him they hung true.
Despite all his miscellaneous flaws
His children said: “We love you, we are here for you.”
With this knowledge he laboured on
Knowing there was an end date.
Soon his life would be his.
One day he would cast aside the shackles.
Soon he thought, soon.
That will be a good day.