There’s No Such Thing as Free Love: Sasha’s Story
There’s no such thing as free love. Sasha might tell you the same. She would if she could, I’m sure of it. Just as sure as the news of her horrific death arrived like a thunderclap on the prairie plains just a few weeks ago, wrapped in a story of a pretty young woman gone from the world long before her time in a murder suicide that left her infant daughter without a mother.
The employee of a family friend, she was barely thirty years old, slender and pretty and sensually alive in a confident awareness that gave an icy cool cast to her eyes and a recklessness with her affections that bodice-ripping fiction and Snapchat sells us as dangerous fun that can be tasted and then set aside like an aperitif, or a piece of decadent desert worthy of sampling on the palette and then safely discarding for fear of calories, waistlines or early death. Sasha would have eaten the whole cake. And frequently did.
For the decade that we knew her, she used her wiles and charms in the way young dainty and pretty things do when they’re testing their wings. For a great many of both sexes, it’s a forgivable phase of youthful exploration and development that gives way in time to safer and more sensible living. For Sasha, the phase would never end. One boy after another arrived and departed in her romantic life like so many rustled leaves blown about by the tempest breezes of her hair and eyes and the promise of pleasures that she flaunted and more often than not, dispensed freely as her favorite indulgence in all the world, juggling two or three or four men at a time and opining to friends and her elders about the struggles of “choosing just the right one,” even as the wrong one was waiting to choose her.
During a bad month in 2015 when she was down on her money and in between living space, she stayed in our home, tucked safely in a spare bedroom and sharing breakfasts before leaving for busy days of work and school. Over omelettes and waffles and pancakes with bacon and coffee, I tried gently to impart subtle cautionary into the devil-may-care circumstance that had found her kicked out of another boyfriend’s house after he discovered he wasn’t her only amusement. Gently, I told her that her fortunes so far had been simple and easy luck, with mostly passive men who were willing to gather broken hearts and and belongings and make meekly dignified retreat from her indiscretions, rather than seek to avenge wounded pride or their emasculated shame of having been cheated. What’s more, I told her, she might someday find someone who would be so in love with her as to reach beyond her choices in a desire to build a life and a family. After all of the rest and all of it all, what would remain of a tattered heart to offer him when she was ready to trade variety for true love?
For Sasha, the phase would never end. One boy after another arrived and departed in her romantic life like so many rustled leaves blown about by the tempest breezes of her hair and eyes and the promise of pleasures that she flaunted and more often than not, dispensed freely as her favorite indulgence in all the world…
Less than a year later, that man arrived in the form of a nurse anesthetist she had met online, and shortly after, a baby girl that seemed at long last to be the growing up and stabilizing force that Sasha had needed. The man doted on and loved her in a way none of the others had and for a time, it seemed as if Sasha would finally settle in to safe harbor from the chaos and strife of her twenties. When a new job beckoned, the young family relocated to California to continue their life and family and hope against hope, Sasha’s newfound tranquility.
After months of silence, a phone call from friends broke horrific news that left all who knew her shellshocked but tragically unsurprised as the details emerged. Found stabbed to death in the home of a man who was not her baby’s father, her lifeless body discovered in the same bed where authorities say her toddler daughter was found huddled and screaming, covered in her mother’s blood but unharmed for six hours after Sasha’s death. After murdering her in a jealous rage brought on by her determination to return to her fiancee, Sasha’s jilted lover had messaged her family members, telling them that their daughter was “in heaven and soon, I will be there with her, too.” Police say he then drove to a friend’s house, retrieved a handgun and returned to Sasha’s body, where he committed suicide with a gunshot to the head. Further suspect investigation revealed him as only one of three additional men she’d spent time with since her arrival to California less than a year before.
At her funeral and at her parent’s insistence of an open casket ceremony to say their goodbyes, Sasha’s delicate and unblemished face was framed by a linen scarf around her neck to conceal her wounds. Her hands, shredded by her efforts to stop her attacker’s blade were bandaged bundles hidden by a matching muslin muffler resting peacefully at her waist as if readied for caroling or stylish winter outing catching Christmas snowflakes in snow globe memories frozen forever in time.
For a woman who bore lifelong scars of her own mother’s cold distance and harsh criticism, the thought of Sasha’s young child growing up without her mommy is cruel irony that only adds to the tragedy of wasted lives and the burdens of a single father left to remake the pieces of his daughter’s shattered soul and the hideous reality of her violent departure from the world. In a modern culture where polyamory is often glorified and celebrated as an easily chosen, consequence-free and avant garde stylistic choice as much as a lifestyle, it can only rightly be said that it is a game of rolled dice, broken lives and the risky calculations of whether selected players are willing to adopt and abide by the rules of the game. Or, as it did for Sasha, whether the game would quit her before she could scrape up her chips and pull back from the roulette odds of free love that is always and forever, anything but free.