Creative Non-Fiction: A Moment of Free Time
It’s the middle of July and I’m lying below an apple tree in the George Washington Carver Edible Garden, a city park-haven, set on a hill over Charlotte Street. It’s an oasis; a quick get-away from the bustle of Lexington Avenue, in the heart of downtown Asheville. While tourists shop and families enjoy the fountain in Pack Square Park, I am alone and removed—headphones and book—beneath green leaves and blue sky.
The Buncombe County Detention Center is also just down the hill from where I’m lounging. It was built in 1994, to replace the jail that operated in the top floors of the courthouse. In there, are around four hundred and fifty people. I imagine them behind the bars and shuffling along concrete floors. Over here, on soft dirt and sprouts, I am enjoying myself. In there, the inmates serve there time on itchy sheets and uncomfortable chairs. I am wearing my favorite jeans and a brand new tank top. The inmates wear old scrubs; worn hundreds of times by hundreds of others. Clothes and leisure are unlimited to me in this land of abundance, and therefore, my choice; but in the prison, the inmates face more boundaries. What did each of them do to lose simple, everyday choices?
All manner of things: larceny, sex offenses, murder, breaking and entering, etc. Perhaps some of these inmates are guilty and, it is possible that some of these inmates are innocent of their accused crime.
The thought of this makes me consider my freedom and the meaning of freedom itself. I recall the definition from the Oxford Dictionary, which is something like: the right to do what one wants; to think, act and speak without hindrance.
By that definition, I am free in the garden. I want to be in the garden, I want to listen to music and I want to read; and no one is stopping me. However, the inmates may want to read in the garden, but they can’t, for obvious reasons. I have a freedom that they do not have.
My attention returns to the book I’m reading, and the thoughts disappear. The sunlight starts to dim and I notice a gray cloud edging over the sky. The color of the cloud reminds me of concrete. Thump. An apple hits the ground as the breeze starts to pick up.
I guess free time in the garden is over.
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