Tag Archives: prison

The Winning Ticket

Sharon kept her sunglasses on and paused to straighten out her dress, a white knee-high covered in blue and yellow flowers that she had originally bought to wear to church one Easter Sunday. Walter, her husband, told her it was too short. When she protested that it fell below the knees, he told her again, and made her buy a brand new dress that better matched the swollen bruise on her upper left cheek. Shaking the memory from her body, she clutched her purse tightly to her chest and walked through the metal detector. “Follow me,” a guard said, and she did, walking as slowly as possible with her shoulders straight and her stiletto shoes stepping one foot in front of the other, trying hard to maintain the appearance of confidence and delay her destination for as long as possible.

As they entered the Visitor’s Center, Sharon turned her nose up towards the ceiling and pretended not to notice the man on the other side of the glass holding the receiver up to his ear and forcing a smile through his crooked, toothy snarl. The skin on his face looked more worn and leathery than usual, the pockets in his flesh accentuated by the accumulated prison grime.

Sharon thanked her escort as she took a seat across the man. The prison guard stepped back, but remained in the room, hovering nearby. The man across from her began screaming into his end of the receiver before she even had a chance to pick hers up. She waited until he was finished, and then picked up her own receiver with clammy, sweaty hands, and slowly pressed it to the side of her face.

“Good afternoon, Walter,” she said. Her face read no emotion.

“Fuck you, you fucking whore. I saw the fucking news. Where’s my god damn money?”

Sharon took a deep breathe and tried to steady the shaking hand that held the phone receiver. She spoke after a pause: “I just came by — I thought I should tell you in person, that I’m not giving you anything. I’m not splitting the money.”

“Wrong again, ya stupid bitch,” he growled, leaning into the glass that divided them. “You think I don’t got time to read in here? I’m still your husband, means I’m still entitled to half. Besides — it was my numbers that won. You still play ’em, and it’s my fuckin’ numbers that hit.”

Pause. He waited for Sharon to respond, but she said nothing.

“Maybe if ya hadn’t been in such a rush to throw yer man in jail, you woulda thought’a that first. Even if we got a divorce now — and baby, I’m okay with that, just so you know — I’d still get half a’what you got. And what’s half of, uh…”

“Forty-five million.” Sharon swallowed hard and placed her free hand in her lap so that he couldn’t see it shaking. “Forty-five million dollars.”

Sharon took another breathe, dropped the telephone receiver, and for the first time in her life, she stood up and walked away. She was certain that Walter was screaming at her through the phone, telling her what a useless whore she was, and detailing all of the terrible things he was going to and all the drugs he would buy with her money.

But this time, she didn’t have to hear him.

Picked Him Up at Three

She stood next to her father, thinking about the more than just two foot height gap between them. She fingered her pulse. My blood, she thought, is the same as his. When she was younger she thought of any relation she had to her father as an infection, an unavoidable and fatal flaw she’d tried to hide. Now he was out of prison, standing next to her with the same curly, straw-colored hair and lip-biting habit.

“How you feeling?” she asked him, trying to ignore the stink on his clothes from the government-issued soap. He smelled like a hospital, sanitized but still not clean.

“So far so good,” he said. The alarm on her watch beeped, telling her she was late to pick her dad up. She’d been so afraid she’d forget that she set three alarms at home. She forgot she’d set the watch alarm. She banged her stumpy fingers that looked like his against the buttons she wasn’t sure how to work, afraid the high pitched sound would never stop. The bus pulled up as she silenced the incessant beep. She led her father onto the bus, putting three dollar bills into the slot for each of their fares. He seemed embarrassed that she had to pay for him, whispered something she assumed was a thank you.

They sat toward the back, next to a young kid. She looked around for his mother, but he appeared to be alone. His headphones were cheap, and she could make out some of the lyrics of the rap song he was listening to.

“Thanks for coming today, Scout,” her father said. She stopped staring at the kid to look at her father. He hadn’t called her that in years and the sound of it felt out of place and forced.

He smiled in his way that looked like he was grimacing. She stared at the bus map overhead, counting the stops to her apartment.

[So this is something I wrote—and tweaked a little—at Creative Copy Challenge, a cool website with writing exercises to get the juices going. I hate that phrase. Too late now.]

Girl in a Box

She was ripped from the headlines. Girl in a box. I knew her a little bit, a number of years ago. Not enough to say hello, maybe enough to smile. Maybe. I try to remember what she looked like, but I only see the box.

She didn’t fit in neat. At least not at first. They had to force it. It doesn’t matter how hard you force something though, sometimes we weren’t meant to bend certain ways. We can bend lots of things for lots of reasons, I’m sure they bent plenty of things inside themselves to do what they did to her. But you can’t force it. No matter how much you need to.

No, she didn’t fit, so the had to resize her. I imagine it made quite a mess. In fact, I’m surprised that’s not what gave them away. But it wasn’t. I guess with enough drive and the proper tools you can make anything fit anywhere, even if it doesn’t want to. She certainly didn’t want to fit. Girl in a box.

Two days she spent in the box. Two days is unending and insignificant on the scale of the universe, but it was neither for her. She wasn’t really in the box. At least not the part of her that counts. That being said, I don’t want to confuse you, they did put all her parts in the box. To not would just be sloppy. They certainly weren’t sloppy. Two days and no one noticed the box.

No, no one noticed the box until they tried to get rid of it. I often wonder if they had been successful, would the box have sunk or floated down the river? I often wonder if they would have just been better off leaving the box where it was. In plain view, for all to see. They could make jokes about it.

“What’s in the box?”

“Oh that box? A girl”

“Ha ha ha. You are the cleverest aren’t you? Such nice young boys”

They’re all in boxes now too. Not boxes like hers though. They still have all their parts. But not the part that matters. They lost that when they put her in box. When they forced her in. I’m sure she didn’t want to go. Like I said, I didn’t know her that well. Not well enough to say hello. So maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine that she would have wanted to be in the box. At least not like that. Girl in a box.

We’ll all be in boxes one day. Not like hers. Not like theirs. At least, not like their boxes right now. More like the ones they’ll be in soon.