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I stepped outside onto the deck overlooking a forest of trees. Standing above them all gave me a sense of a strong foundation, something I had for a long time struggled to admit was missing.

The cool Carolina air hit my face as I turned to slide the door closed behind me and wrapped myself in the flannel of my sweatshirt, pulling the baggy hood up over my head. I breathed in the rich flora, floating into my senses along with my newly found freedom. I took a seat on the folding dining chair which I had placed there the night before to listen to the noisy chorus of cicada calls. They had been so loud they’d kept me awake.

The morning brought with it a silence, hushing the trees to stillness except for the caws and flaps of a lone blackbird flying and perching wherever it chose.

I called it my treehouse. Furnished with a wooden porch swing set on top of cinder blocks—its unnecessary chains hung artfully on either side; a single seated futon chair that would have double duty as my son’s bed, a desk with tiered shelves that had been a gift from my husband when I went back to school. The small bedroom had a single bed. With the chipped turquoise wooden head and footboards it was more suited for a teenager than a woman but its antique art-deco like charm sufficed.

I looked east toward the home I had left, which was close enough that Charlie could go back and forth between his parents. A confluence of emotions hit me as I squinted and  squeezed back tears, suddenly longing for his sweet, warm morning breath. I would have bent over and kissed his sleepy eyes awake.

Freedom, well-being–both came with a heavy price. How much does one have to pay to keep one’s spirit? I hugged the warm mug of steamy, caramel colored coffee in the orange and yellow second-hand Italian painted mug against my heart before taking another sip. I threw my strong, agile legs up over the railing, resisting the urge to load sentiment on top of grief. I had to stay clear minded. Leaving my marriage was like a death. But like the blackbird, I would ascend and search for a new and safe landing.

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