I’ve never really had a home, even when I did. I lived where ever the Gypsy caravan went. My father said freedom was the best riches a man could have. After I was separated from him, freedom was all I had. I was free to sleep when I wanted, see what I wanted, and go where I wanted. I visited city and country side, coming and leaving as I felt like it.
In this one city, there was a boy, who looked about my age, at a butcher shop begging to be taken on as an apprentice. It was ridiculous. The boy’s clothes weren’t fine, but they weren’t covered in holes like mine. Why was he so desperate for this man to rule over him? There were plenty of jobs he could get that would only last the day, and he would be free to do whatever he wanted the next day.
The man he was pleading with slammed the door in his face. The boy had no idea that it was actually a good thing.
I leaned against the wall, smirking. The boy turned from the door and scowled in my direction.
“What are you laughing at?”
“Your pout. The man did you a favor.”
“I’m not pouting. And turning me down wasn’t a favor.”
I shrugged the shoulder that wasn’t leaning on the wall. “If you want to be someone’s personal slave, then yeah, I guess he wasn’t doing you a favor.”
“Slave? I was asking to be his apprentice.”
“Apprentice. Slave. Same thing.”
They boy shook his head and turned to leave. I pushed my shoulder off the wall and fell instep beside him. My day was pretty boring so far and, it had been a while since I’d had anyone to bother.
The boy stopped and looked at me. “Do you want something?”
“Just wondering why you were so desperate.” I looked him up and down. “It doesn’t look like you’re starving to me. Why sell your life to that guy?”
“I wasn’t selling my life.” He started walking again.
“You wanted him to take you one as an apprentice. He would have made you sign a contract that bound you to him for however many years he felt like.”
“That’s how an apprenticeship works.”
“Then why would you want it?”
He gave me a sideways glance. “So I wouldn’t end up looking like you.” He looked surprised when I laughed. He was probably hoping his remark would offend me so I’d leave him alone. No way of that happening. This was the first time I’d had a conversation without someone threatening to call the Guard or punching me in the nose.
“There are worse things than looking like me,” I said. “Truth is, I have more than you do.”
The boy stopped suddenly and put his hand to his pocked. I chuckled. “I didn’t take anything.” This boy wasn’t as dumb as he looked. He looked at me intently, like he was waiting for me to pull a treasure from the tattered bag on my back.
“All I need is right here.” I stretched my arms out. “My freedom.”
He began walking and mumbled, “You can’t spend freedom.”
“Sure can, kid. You were trying to.”
“Freedom isn’t a trade.”
“Who says you need a trade?”
He looked at me like I’d sprouted horns.
“Everyone needs a trade or they’ll end up…” He shrugged.
“Like me? My own master. No one to tell me what to do or where to go.”
A line creased his forehead. “They’ll end up with no money and no place to live.”
“I have plenty of places to live.” I grinned. “I bet you haven’t been half the places I have.”
He was silent.
“Name a place you’ve been. I bet you I’ve been there.” Even if I hadn’t, I’d tell him I had.
“I grew up here,” he said not looking at me.
“You mean you’ve never left this town?”
He gave a limp shrug.
“No wonder you’re ready to throw your life away. You need to live a little.” I elbowed him. He veered away from the probe and nearly collided with a woman walking in the opposite direction.
“Watch where you’re going.”
“Sorry ma’am,” he said. So polite.
He turned on me. “I don’t know why you’re following me,” he snapped, “but I’m not giving you any money if that’s what you’re after.”
I held my hands up. “Not what I’m after. Like I said, I have more—“
“More than me. Yeah, I know. So why are you following me?”
“Just thought you might like to know that there are other options besides grumpy butcher back there.”
“They’re not my options.”
“They could be.”
“Are you asking me to join you?”
Was this kid serious? Was he actually thinking about it? I was just saying stuff for my own entertainment.
“I don’t normally take people on. I travel alone. But I may let you tag along for a while. Just so you can see what you’re missing.” What would he say to that?
I laughed. “You’re crazy to pass this up.”
He turned and walked away. I didn’t follow.
“Let me know when you want to take charge of your life,” I called. “But don’t wait too long. I might not be here.” I forced another laugh, surprised at how lonely it sounded. For a moment, I’d actually hoped that he would say yes.
This is something I wrote to practice writing the same scene in different viewpoints. I love this character. He is a bit unconventional and likes to push people’s buttons.
Now we’ll see what was in the other boy’s mind.