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To be free is to be open to new possibilities

Editor’s Note: The Forward is featuring essays, poems and short stories written for our Young Writers Contest. Today’s entry was written by Emily Hyett, a ten-year-old student from North Hampton, New Hampshire. You can find more work from our young writers here.

What is freedom? Is it a young child biking down the streets of your neighborhood? Is it a puppy as it first sees the sunlight? Is it getting over a sickness stronger than any I have ever heard of? To me, freedom is being with others. Now, in my house, I feel stuck. I am a caged animal, waiting to finally be let out. I try to be brave, and pretend I am not the most lost that I have ever been. My life has no meaning, no purpose. I just sit at the computer all day, waiting for the boredom of online school to end. This is a war. Like all others we fight, but this time, the world fights as one.

It is Friday, and I have just showered for Shabbat. Religion is freedom. Over the summer I go to a Jewish girls sleepaway camp. When we have services, I feel free. I may not be able to go because of the virus. I will feel even more stuck than before. When I pray, I pray not that things will go back to normal, because they never will. I just pray each day that things will get a bit closer to how they were before.

My dad is a doctor. One of his patients in the hospital was diagnosed with Covid-19, and then, he was too. It spread to the whole family quickly, and we all suffered. I felt so useless, lying in my bed. I had a fever and a cough. I couldn’t move. I felt helpless when I needed my family to care for me.

Now, as my family takes an after dinner bike to the beach, I am thinking. When I think, I think hard. I think back on everything that has happened in the past two months. I think of all of the lessons I’ve learned. The most important one: Don’t take what you have for granted. If you do, it’ll be harder when you lose it. Anyone, even the richest queen, can lose everything. I have lost my friends, school, and my activities.

My parents are in charge now. “Recess time.” “Lunch time.” “School time!” Those are the words banging in my ears. They are the same as before, but they seem different. Before, my teachers said those words. Now, my parents. I don’t know how to feel. I am confused and lost

As we near the beach, I look ahead of me. My sisters are laughing with each other. I am jealous. My parents are focused, but I can tell that they are happy. Why are they happy? Why can’t I be free from sadness? Why do I want to stay silent? Then, my thoughts leave my brain, and I start to relax.

Emily Hyett

Emily Hyett Image by Courtesy of Emily Hyett

It is amazing to see the water. As I stand on the beach, the waves crash. I want to be the ocean, free and happy. Playing with the waves. Right now, there is no pollution and the ocean is a beautiful blue. The water is still. So still. I breathe in the fresh air. Then I look up. Right above me is a bird. I want to be a bird. I could fly away and be free again.

Then, my mom puts her hand on my shoulder, and we talk about the birds and their cycles. I laugh as I watch the birds dance above my head. My sisters tackle each other to the ground, giggling. I smile as I realize it doesn’t matter where I am, or who I am with. If I learn new things, I am free.

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