The Fourth of July is important to my character Rory, because for many years, she was not free. She was held captive by extremist Weres who abused her and used as their private assassin. After she was rescued she had a lot of adjust to, there was a lot she had never seen or done, from using a microwave, to grocery shopping, to seeing fireworks. She had a new name, a new language to master, a whole new mindset to adapt to.
This story is about her first Independence day. It takes place two months after her rescue, five or six months before A Requiem for Steven and about seven and a half years before The Ferry Ride and Can We Chat. The concept of celebrating freedom means even more when for once you never imagined you could ever have it.
© 2008 Suzanne Lazear
“Come on Rory, we need to get back now.”
“Now what?” We were walking along the river eating popsicles. It was the 4th of July.
It had been a hot day. But we were having a good time. Amber talked funny and was very cheerful, but I liked her.
“There will be a concert – music. Then there will be fireworks.” Her blue eyes shone. I’d never seen fireworks. I liked music.
She laughed. “He’ll be there before the fireworks start Cabbage Patch.” I liked Charlie. I never knew Vampires could be nice.
Amber, Lilly, and I had gotten up early and taken a bus from Cambridge to Boston to stand in line at a place called Hatch Shell. We each got a plastic bracelet, which itched. Ray, Lilly’s boyfriend from DC joined us, so did Gary and Drake and some others.
Then Amber and I left the crowded and noisy place and she showed me Boston.
Nearly two months ago I had been a prisoner. I was tied up in a barn, beaten daily by extremist Weres who only let me out to kill people. I had been Hunting in Las Vegas and got caught. I was given to bad Vampires.
Ray and his friends rescued me and since then I had been living in DC with Ray and “the guys.” There I was warm. I had a real bed and blanket. I had enough to eat. I found out showers were supposed to be warm.
They even gave me a name. Rory. I was still getting used to it, but it was better than the old one.
A few days ago Ray brought me to Cambridge to live with Lily, Amber, and Charlie. Just for the summer. I didn’t know what I did wrong. I tried to be good. But everything was so hard…so different.
Like speaking. On the farm I was not expected to speak. Here they wanted me to talk. A lot. In English. I didn’t know much English. Or any other language.
We found our things and friends. There was no beer in the cooler. I liked beer almost as much as ding-dongs. Lilly brought ding-dongs.
The concert began. It wasn’t music I had heard before, but everyone else seemed to know them. Lilly called them patriotic songs.
Amber explained the instruments to me that the people in the Pops played.
On the blanket next to us was a little girl and her parents. She had her face painted and was waving a flag. She looked happy. I never had parents, or a family. I never did anything like this.
The town near the farm had a party on 4th of July. But I was never allowed to go. Gar would tell me of all the things they did, the carnival, the food, the games. Once he won me a teddy bear. Sarah Jody took it from me.
“I want some beer.” Lilly said it wasn’t allowed. I was still watching the little girl in morbid fascination. We did not feel. But I did feel something. I felt pain. Emptiness. Beer made it hurt less. It was something else I had learned with Ray and the guys.
Amber caught my whisper. She wasn’t human either. She also hurt deep inside. She too had nightmares and cried out in her sleep. “We’ll go to the pub afterwards alright?”
It was growing dark and the music continued. The theme of the concert was “Freedom” and after the patriotic songs, they sang songs from other places, in other languages.
Then they sang song I knew. Die Gedanken sind frei. So I sang along. They sang a lot of the farm. Just not well.
Die Gedanken sind frei, wer kann sie erraten,sie fliehen vorbei wie nächtliche Schatten.Kein Mensch kann sie wissen, kein Jäger erschießenmit Pulver und Blei: Die Gedanken sind frei!
Thoughts are free, who can ever guess them?They just flee by like nocturnal shadows.No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them,with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!
The Weres on the farm had been kicked out of Germany for being extreme. They liked America because they could think how they wanted.
“You have a really pretty voice Rory,” Lilly told me. “Amber are you listening?”
Amber nodded. “I am.”
I had a pretty voice?
I kept singing. Something wet rolled down my face.
“Your eyes are leaking mon petit chou.” Charlie was here!
“Why?” Had they ever leaked before?
“What does the song you are singing mean?” He talked funny too, but it was different. Amber was Irish. Charlie was Cajun.
I couldn’t translate -- I just knew. “Thoughts…are…free.” That was the best I could do. On the farm thoughts were not free. Not for me.
“Why is she crying Charlie?” Amber leaned her head on the Vampire’s shoulder, black hair cascading down in a shiny curtain.
Crying? We didn’t cry. It had been beaten out of me. Gaia bless, I still had the marks.
“It’s Independence Day petit. She’s free.”
I was. I no longer had to do what they told me, kill who they told me. I had never dared think of freedom, dream of freedom, on the farm.
Being in Cambridge instead of DC suddenly didn’t seem so bad. After all, it wasn’t the farm.
“I understand completely.” Amber didn’t touch me, but sat close.
Lilly was in Ray’s arms. They looked happy.
Even if I didn’t like being in Cambridge I liked the people I was with – Amber, Lilly, Ray, Charlie. Drake and Gary were alright too.
Then the Pops started playing a different song. There was a loud noise which spooked me and I crouched ferally.
“Don’t be afraid. Look up petit.”
I did. Red sparkles filled the sky. Then a white one joined them. More and more shot up into the sky as if they were dancing to the music.
“Fireworks Cabbage Patch, they are fireworks.”
I sat back down. “Wow.”
“I snuck something in for you mon peitie chou.” Charlie handed me and Amber each a cold beer then opened one himself. He didn’t have a bracelet. Vampires were good at sneaking in places. So was I.
“Silanté.” Amber held hers up.
“Cheers.” Charlie held his up too and I mimicked it. “Happy Independence Day.”
Then it really hit me. I was free.