After completing my next shift at the mill, I casually amble over to that spout, and once I’ve made sure there’s no one around, I pull a small gob of deposited crude freedom off the spout. I quickly pocket it and hastily head out. I bicycle to a region of the riverbank seldom frequented by my fellow townsfolk. Being close by, the place doesn’t take long to reach. I unmount my bicycle, and standing there in solitude by the languid currents, beneath an overcast sky, I remove the small clump of crude freedom from my pocket. I take a deep breath.
A moment after I’ve ingested the morsel, the solution is obvious and simple: wean Jozine off crude freedom and re-establish her long-forsaken healthy regimen of refined freedom by force since the utterance of platitudes is her only response to our verbal, artistic and financial attempts at convincing her to curb her addiction. I immediately conclude the only effective way to do this is to cut her stash of crude freedom with refined freedom, gradually raising its proportions in the mix until the amount of crude freedom she ingests is of negligible effect.
Utilizing the spare key to her domicile (which she bestowed upon me for emergencies and occasional essential visits to tend her crops, critique her artwork or whatnot when such efforts are desired), I furtively access her private space with a bag of my favorite homemade freedom in hand. Once within her personal environs, I go directly to her bedroom. Our longstanding friendship has allowed her to entrust me with the location of her crude freedom cache, the bottom-most socks of sock cabinet. I head there now as I have those times when I’ve had to fetch some of the stuff for her after her urgent entreaties to bring her “just one extra dose” because she’s “forgotten to replenish” the store in her bag, but I’m reasonably sure that in actuality she had been hit by too many cravings and exhausted the supply she had on hand.
Committing to memory their arrangement, I take out all but the bottom-most layer of socks from the cabinet. I know she is quite systematic about nearly all her habits (even the destructive ones), so I’m sure that she is consuming the stuff from right to left, front to back. Thus, I start with the socks lying in the front-right. I open the mouth of the sock, pluck out just a little crude freedom, place it in an empty bag I’ve brought, replace the now vacant volume with refined freedom, then jiggle the contents of the sock to mix up the raw and refined substances. With the next sock, I remove slightly more crude freedom and put in the equivalent amount of refined freedom. I iterate this process until I’ve gone through all ten freedom-containing socks. I put the socks back in their original order and hastily leave.
Nervously, I ride my bicycle down the familiar hillside paths through the chilly air with the constant awareness that to be caught by the authorities with this much crude freedom on my person without a permit for its transport is at very best a misdemeanor. Fortunately, I make it to the freedom mill without any snags and place the pilfered freedom with its kin to be refined, thereby eliminating evidence of my deed.
I wait to witness the satiation of her next evident hankering for expanded liberty to observe the results of the substitution, to determine if I will need to tweak the proportions. Soon an opportunity arises. The next night, as we’re standing in a meadow, watching shooting stars streak brilliantly across and among constellations, I notice her hands fidgeting in the darkness, often one of her symptoms of feeling stifled. And sure enough, a short while later, she slinks away, and I watch her slip a quaking hand into her jacket pocket and withdraw a handful of freedom as she goes.
Before long, she returns with a breezy air about her, carrying herself as if utterly liberated, yet not imposing her newfound disenthrallment on the environment. She comes up beside me, slaps me hard between my shoulder blades several times, her palm thumping upon my back as if to rescue me from choking; all the while, she grins widely. And I start to think if such a small amount of refined freedom is so effective in moderating the effects of crude freedom, she’ll be fine before long at all. But I have to remind myself that for her, crude freedom can elicit anything in a large range of reactions, and this might simply be one of the more tolerable. Still, I can’t suppress my hopefulness.