There is little that can make so many people simultaneously curse industrial, Western society like rush hour gridlock. The cause du jour of this traffic jam was construction. Road repairs that had been promised five years ago had finally begun. Minutes trickled by as Judith squirmed in her seat. She was stuck behind a massive, white SUV and she knew there was nothing she could do to go forward. She was trapped and had no control over the scene spiraling into a clusterfuck of horns, obscenities and blaring songs of every genre. No possibilities were left; fortune had her firmly under his control.
For as long as she could remember, Judith had been controlled. What Judith's first memory was, she could not say; who knows what lies in the shadows of the subconscious? However, the first memory that she could name took place in that dreadful year of Ingsoc. One Wednesday night her parents' marriage of seven years ended. Judith remembered little from that night; most of the memory was a blurry collection of lights and incomprehensible shouts. However, one moment stood out in her memory.
“You can keep the house, but I'm taking my children with me! Michael, get over here!”
“You are not taking my daughter! Michael get away from your father!”
A mother, father and their confused son stood by the back door. Judith's older brother stood by his father, whose hand was firmly on his shoulder. Judith's mother, standing opposite from her husband placed herself in between him and her daughter, who being too young to understand what was being said, lay crying on the floor at the loud and angry noises.
Speaking softly yet firmly to his son, “Michael, get in the car; we're leaving.” Then, to his wife, “You can be as sure as hell that I'm coming back in the morning for my daughter” and with that he and Michael stepped out the door. The memory faded slowly as the scene ended with Judith's mother sticking her head out the door and hurling profanities at the retreating car.
That was the last Judith ever saw of her father and brother. On the way to a motel the two got into a crash. Michael died instantly, and a week later Judith's father died of complications in the hospital. Her mother never bothered to visit and her husband died wishing he could see his daughter's face once final time.
Traffic began to inch forward. Looking back at the SUV in front of her, Judith noticed a bumper sticker, “Save the Rain Forests for our Children” An environmentalist driving an obscenely large SUV, is there any sort of hypocrisy to which humans won't sink? But, if it's for the children it must be right.
Ever since Michael's death, Judith's mother clutched her like a thief would clutch a jewel. She had allowed Michael to slip out of her control and as result he had died. Judith's mother vowed to never let her daughter have any harm befall her and do so with constant unceasing control. Judith was accompanied by her mother everywhere she went. She spent most of the day at home under the supervision of her mother. Her diet was bare of anything that was less than nutritionally sound and her exposure to books, TV and movies was strictly monitored. She gained few friends in elementary school, for she was not allowed to go anywhere other than school without being accompanied by her mother. As Judith grew older she lost the few friends she had possessed, for rather than lessening, the protective impulses of her mother had increased as her daughter grew older.
Judith's adult life had been painstakingly crafted by her mother. As a child she was forced to excel in all that she did. In elementary school, she was enlisted in every available sport and constantly pushed to perfection. It was only when athletics began to provide her with time without maternal accompaniment that her mother withdrew her from sports. From her first days in school Judith received top marks in her all classes, in no small part due to daily hour long study sessions that spanned even the summer months. As the work got more engaging and difficult, the length of the study sessions would increase. There were days in which Judith would spend three quarters of her waking time in front of her school work. AP, Honors, whatever class had a title in front of it she took. The content of the course was irrelevant; all that mattered was that it gave her as many credits as possible. One semester she got a B- in English, and after that her mother made it a point to review and correct all of her work lest it happen again. While graduation approached and students frantically crammed out college applications, Judith never touched an application. Her mother chose the colleges (all within a twenty minute drive of the house), filled out the applications and wrote the essay (I think I would be a great addition to your university...), and when the acceptance letters finally came back, it was Judith's mother who made the final decision. Judith went on to the college, then law school, and eventually became a tax attorney at a local firm. She became everything her mother had wanted her to be: safe, secure, successful and ever under her mother's control.
Outside Frank Sinatra sang a duet with a Spanish barber while some holy man told of the utter futility of trying to escape Hellfire without the aid of the Father. Judith looked at the clock. There was no escaping it; she was going to be late for work. She was unable to avoid it; she was powerless. All she could do was inch forward and hope that there was an end to this endless Sheol of traffic congestion. “I'm surprised I'm stuck in this car right now. It's a wonder that bitch taught me how to drive.”
Judith had hoped college to be a time, a chance for liberation. This would be her time to escape her mother's control and live without the telescreenat first, Judith made a point of calling her mother every day. She spent more and more time driving back to her old home until it reached the point that just about all time not spent in class, sleeping or doing homework was spent in the company of her mother. Judith let her mother choose her major; she let her mother choose her classes. She was unwittingly doing everything her mother wanted without even being asked or told. Judith had never learned to function; she could not act without someone else pulling the strings. She was incapable of doing what she wanted and all she could do was plod along a path chosen by her superiors. Judith had thought about leaving town and never letting her mother find her, living a new life without the threat of disapproval, without constant pressure. Yet, what would she do? Where would she go? How would she survive?
Judith finally came within sight of the construction site. There was standing a man holding that obnoxiously colored flag. One by one, cars were allowed to pass. Anxiety inexplicably grew within her and she could not help but hate that bold, that brazen flag. Who did it think it was being so brightly orange, visible in light and in darkness? Who gave it leave to be so true to its character? Finally, the SUV passed and there in front of Judith was the man and his flag. Her mind raced and time had slowed down to the point of irrelevance. This man stopped her; he was controlling her, forcing her into arrestment. He was no different. Everyone had controlled her. Judith knew he was going to make her late, that he was going to make her fail. Yet, suddenly failure didn't seem so repugnant. Indeed, if it was anything she needed, it was failure. All her life, Judith had been forced into success, to excel at everything she did. She didn't mess up; she didn't make mistakes; she only achieved excellence. She could just wait and arrive at work late. She would be criticized, but she would still keep her high paying white collar job, her stable and secure life and enjoy prosperity. Or, she could fail...she could fail and throw all her mother's cruel hopes away. She could forever revoke her mother's control and her imposed future while simultaneously revoking someone else's self control and irrevocably alter their future.
Judith looked ahead at the man and his flag, a flag that was more audacious than she ever had dreamed of being, until now. “Mom, I am going to fuck up my life now, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it.” With that Judith floored the gas pedal and struck the man. As his bones crunched beneath her maddened wheels, Judith felt a perverse thrill of pleasure. He would die then and there. He did not choose it; Judith had chosen it for him. She had had her life chosen for her, now she was choosing death for him. The flag caught in her grill and with these proud battle colors, Judith rode to glory. Suddenly fear gripped her: What if they catch me? I could be sent to prison, to a mental ward. I'll never escape their control. I must have the last word. Judith knew what she had to do. Sharply veering right, she undid her seat belt and crashed into a barricade. As she flew through the windshield, hit the ground twenty feet away, covered the exposed earth with blood, bile, mucus and every other fluid imaginable, she died the happiest she could ever remember being. Finally, she was free.