Freedom of the Press

PressTerry had just finished his shift at the local shop. He was a simple man of simple pleasures, as far as pleasures were allowed in these days. It was almost as if people had forgotten how to laugh. Walking down the street Terry looked around and saw a host of things that in one day and age people would have looked upon with a smirk and a chuckle. But in this time that wasn’t the response you’d have. As he passed the local grocer’s a few bananas were blown off the stall by the wind. A stranger who’d been browsing the apples stood on one and slid across the pathway, ending up grounded, sat on the ground like a dejected monkey whose last nut had been stolen by a brave and persistent squirrel.

As he watched the unfortunate gentleman slip and fall on the fruit Terry felt confused, as if his human nature was grappling with what he’d been taught throughout his life for control of his reactions. That very morning he’d watched a report of a man who smiled when a co-worker of his had experience the heartbreak of a exploding pen in his shirt pocket. A white shirt it was, moderate to highly priced and ironed to perfection. It had been a harrowing sight for so early in the day. The man who’d smiled at him had been accused of Schadenfreude and was scheduled to appear in national decency court the following week. Although the event had happened in a crowded office it was during the mandatory tea and light superficial chatter break that it had occurred. As such there were no eye witnesses, meaning evidence was sparse and there was a fairly high chance of the accused being found innocent. Although he did have a history, having, as the news had reported, previous record of exaggerating events of a tale he was telling in an attempt to extract mirth from his colleagues. For that he’d been given a warning.

Terry felt as though he wanted some fruit after watching this unfortunate incident, and proceeded to enter the grocer’s despite the fact he should have been attending to the fallen man as members of polite society were expected to. This time however he ignored the man, as was his right, as there were whispers of a new law being passed, making it a minor offence to blatantly ignore the needs of any person injured by an edible item. He entered the small green shop and wandered over to the portion of the store dedicated to the more exotic fruits of the world. He picked up an oval product, of a yellow-green complexion. He’d never seen one of these before. He took it to the counter and purchased the item, exchanging a small piece of talk with the man who worked in the shop. They discussed the weather, deciding it had been quite mild, and the recent results of their town’s sport team. The team had been successful recently, scoring a higher than average number of points per game than usual.

Walking back out of the shop, two men were carrying a large pane of glass down the street. A woman who was not as attentive to where she was going didn’t notice the glass and ended up walking into it. Terry felt an unfamiliar feeling in his chest. It was a sort of warming bubble, rising through it body, culminating in the upturn of the sides of his mouth and a small exhalation of air. He’d laughed. He begin to feel anxious, the press would surely be after him, condemning him for finding another innocent person’s accident and subsequent pain funny. Sweat started to trickle down his face and his hands were trembling so much with anxiety that he dropped his newly-acquired exotic fruit. The fruit rolled down the street and interrupted a couple sitting on a bench. The man on the bench kicked it away slightly. This act of violence drew attention from a nearby photographer, who took a multitude of pictures, chronicling the move that would be touted as an unacceptable display of aggressive behaviour that cannot be tolerated by this society. How would the world survive if people could show that much aggression without proper punishment? It made Terry wonder about the ramifications of his accidental laugh. He stumbled to a nearby patch of grass where a young woman was walking her dog. Terry noticed that it had no nose. It smelt awful.

That evening, when Terry sat down to watch the reports of people displaying unacceptable behaviours he noticed that there was no reporting of his accidental enjoyment of the misfortune of another. He’d found something funny and shown it outwardly in the middle of the street. He’d faced no consequences for it. He could never get away with it again, he knew the level of offense would be too high, especially if someone had seen him, but he’d laughed and got away with it. The press hadn’t got him, he’d won.

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About Mark Dolan

Hello there, I'm Mark, a 21 year old English archaeology student. I write about various things; archaeology, musings on my life, and various bits of society that I have something to say about.

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