4 March 201011 March 2010 Main Posts Free Maxine Beneba Clarke Free adj. fre•er, fre•est 1. Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty. 2. Not controlled by obligation or the will of another. 3. Not affected or restricted by a given condition or circumstance. 4. Unconstrained; unconfined. Setting: exit to Melbourne Central Station, January 28, 2010. Spruiker one: Chocolate, free chocolate. Do you want a free chocolate? (holding it out to me with an enticing smile) Me: Is this a dream? Spruiker one: (Smiling) No Me: Okay then, I’ll have some free chocolate please Spruiker two: (holds out a leaflet) Me: (holds out hand toward Spruiker one for the sweet chocolate treat) Spruiker two: Would you like to take a pamphlet? Me: No thanks Spruiker one: Take a pamphlet Me: I don’t want a pamphlet. Spruiker two: C’mon, we’re almost out Me: I thought you were giving away free chocolate Spruiker one: (looking around nervously) We are Me: Except I have to take a pamphlet to get one Spruiker two: (looking relieved that I finally got it) Yeah Me: I don’t want a pamphlet, I just want the chocolate thanks Spruiker one: (starting to get defensive) Just take a pamphlet. You don’t even have to read it. Me: (setting down my gym bag on the pavement and settling in for the argument) I don’t want a pamphlet. Spruiker one: How do you know, you haven’t even looked at one Me: I don’t have to look – I don’t like pamphlets. Spruiker two: (irritated) Whatever. Me: Sorry, you said you were giving away free chocolate. Now you’re telling me I only get a chocolate if I take one of those pamphlets. Spruiker one: So? Me: Well, it’s just that that’s not actually free, is it? Spruiker two: It is free. You don’t have to pay for it. Me: Well, no, that’s not free actually: it’s conditional. I have to do something you want me to do before I get a chocolate Spruiker one: Are you serious? If you want a chocolate, just take a pamphlet. Otherwise go away. Me: I don’t want a pamphlet. I want free chocolate. You just made my day by standing there yelling out that there was free chocolate available, and now I find out it was all a ploy to get me to take some kind of propaganda I don’t even want or need. Spruiker one & two: (look at me, perplexed). Me: Are you familiar at all with the Trade Practices Act? Spruiker one: What are you talking about? Me: Are you familiar with the dictionary? Maxine Beneba Clarke Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016. More by Maxine Beneba Clarke Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 11 November 202211 November 2022 Main Posts On the last day of Subscriberthon, our amazing online editor gives you one last (very good) reason to subscribe Editorial team What's in store for the last day of Subscriberthon? First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202210 November 2022 Main Posts On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, our favourite editor-duo give you reason #1002 to subscribe to Overland Editorial team What's in store for the second-last day of Subscriberthon?