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Picture Prompt 1 (With the hand tossing the leaves).

I opened my front door, stepping out of the dusky apartment block hallway into my lounge room, and saw the answering machine flashing wildly. Ten messages. I felt a moment of dread as I wondered how many of the messages were from her. I pressed play...

"Jane, where are you? I know you may have a migraine and all, but I need to speak to you."

"Jane, this isn't funny."

"Jane, I think you're just being selfish."

The other seven messages were along those lines. At least it was less than normal. Instead of psyching myself in to phoning her as usual, I deleted the messages, turned on the television and flicked the kettle into life. As I poured hot water over my tea bag, I started to think of ways to get out of answering her.

I could pretend I was on holiday.

I could say my mother was sick and I had to go and take care of her.

I could say I was having an operation.

I could.....

My mind spun. My head started to hurt. Rubbing my temples, I sat down hard on the couch next to Jasper, my cat.

"I know, I know. I need to do something about it. You know her though. She'll freak."

Jasper meowed loudly.

"Easy for you to say," I replied. "What am I going to do?" I thought anxiously, feeling sick.

"You don't need to let a bully run your life. You don't need to be a bully to free yourself from one. You can say no, with love."

A picture of Oprah flashed across the television screen as an evening news presenter looked solemnly at the camera. "Miss Winfrey was quoted at the 'Empower Yourself Conference' in New York, earlier this week. In further news..."

I took that as a sign.

"Dear Larissa, our friendship has been one of the most important friendships of my life, and I want to thank you for helping me to learn how to assert myself and care for my myself. However, I have come to realise that I am at a crossroads in my life, and the path I am choosing now, takes me away from you. I wish you all the best in life, and hope you find happiness. Goodbye, Jane."

I pressed send and the text was gone - out of my hands. Time for chocolate and a warm bed.

I woke to Jasper purring in my ear, letting me know it was time for breakfast. I walked into the lounge room and my gaze automatically settled on the answering machine. A huge grin spread across my face; no messages!! Relief flooded through my body and I felt a lightness in my Heart that I hadn't felt in five years.

Pulling on my rubber boots I walked out into the morning freshness and headed for the waterfall at the local nature reserve. A light breeze gently blew around me, swirling the leaves that covered the walking path. I watched butterflies flutter by. I felt the sun on my face. The shackles that had bound my Spirit ever since I'd met Larissa, fell away with each step, until they were no more. Everything around me was so beautiful and alive, and I found myself singing with joy.

I was free....

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © This story is an original work by Ann Marina Kathleen Weeks, and if you wish to copy it, print it, download it or in any other way use it, (other than quoting it, whilst referencing me as the source), you'll need to ask my permission! Yes, that means you!

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