This was the best they could do without attracting too much attention in the neighborhood. A cozy townhouse that was part of a long line of connected homes marching along like a giant caterpillar, with two bedrooms, two baths, an adequate kitchen, living room, way too much closet space for their meager belongings. They had rented it furnished, so there was no need to get anything new, although Phaedra itched to rearrange her surroundings just to feel that she had some control over her life, at least in something as small as the angle of the loveseat facing the television.
So much control had already been wrenched from her. Although no one ever had a choice in the beginning of his or her life, or what that beginning turned into, for a lucky few, especially here on Earth, an age came when they were free to make decisions that were purely their own. Where to go to college, what major to take, what job offer to accept, who to marry, where to live, what car to buy, how many children to bear.
Control. Or was it? Did not many Earth inhabitants sometimes feel out of control despite what Phaedra called the condition of Elysium in their lives here on this planet? Or was this Elysium, or near paradise that she desperately craved, just an illusion? Did anyone really have any absolute control over their lives?
She would have been happy with the illusion. If this was illusion, she would take it! She never had even the glimmer of a choice--- she had been born to a poor woman abandoned by a father that probably wasn’t her biological one, and in turn her mother had abandoned her to the House of Women at the Palace in Onoria. Basically, court whores had raised her to be another court whore. No choice once again.
Then a tyrant took away more of her choices, as if she ever had any worth laboring more than a second’s thought over. The only choice she had made that mattered was her decision to work with the rebels as an informant in the Onorian Court, using her dubious position to glean secrets from the officials and dignitaries she ‘associated’ with.
Not just the tyrant was guilty of this mass abduction of choice. There was the disease that ravaged many worlds in Atlantis and took away the choice of life from many. It had almost been taken from Ky.
And yet the disease had given them the first real, life-changing choice in their lives. It was the one that brought them to Earth, Ky for the first, and Phaedra for the second time.
So yes, she would take this! This was choice! Choosing the townhouse, choosing the bright blue dolphin motif for her shower curtain, selecting a bottle of perfume amusingly called Alien, and choosing to eat chocolate ice cream in the middle of the day in complete freedom in her own kitchen. She was now bombarded with the wondrous pleasure of choice all day, every day!
So she decided to make another choice, one where she dressed rebelliously in a dress in rich dark purple—a royal Onorian color. No cold, shrill voices to tear into her with scathing criticism. She would wear purple now just because! And she would wear her thick, dark-brown hair in loose, shiny waves past her shoulders while the dress clung to her ripe curves, and high heels just because they looked nice on her pretty feet and made her legs look shapely and willowy.
And the best choice of all--- instead of sitting down to dreary study for her board exams, she would go back to Corner Sweets because she longed to see it again. Just once, she told herself. A quick coffee, a cookie, then she would be on her way. Ky, who was working at his new job for a landscape company, would never know.
So, firmly shaking off the guilty feeling she was doing something naughty—she had had enough of that growing up-- she left the townhouse in a cloud of freedom and took the bus to the corner of the red cobblestone street, following it on foot to the Corner Sweets shop and hesitantly opening the door.