Prison time doesn’t follow the rules. Looking up, I’m convinced that the clock on the goddamn tower hasn’t moved a hand although it feels like hours have passed. Nobody else has moved a hand either. Not the clock, not the other inmates, and not the goddamn prison guards. In fact, where the hell are they?
I swing my head around, looking for a glimpse of the drab olive uniform of our jailers. My left eye is already swollen so much, and of such little use, that it might as well be skin. The thought of myself as a Cyclops nearly causes me to giggle but then a blow lands in my ribs, instantaneously sending a bolt of pain through my midsection. I fight the rising feelings of both panic and vomit from deep in my gut.
The other girl–Deena–had taken an instant dislike to me. Usually, I need to open my mouth before I piss people off. She’d sized me up at dinner last night and I’d seen her do it. “Don’t look Deena in the eye,” Missy, my cellmate, had warned me quickly and harshly, under her breath. It was too late to look away.
Years of watching crime shows and prison movies hadn’t even come close to preparing me for the reality of the process. Three drinks too many, a fuzzy memory of the smells of gasoline, blood, and burning, and then, when I was discharged from the hospital, angry faces outside of my house from the minute the sun came up until it went down again. The night became my only friend.
The trial had been quick; quicker than even my lawyer expected and not in my favor. I’d live out my days here in this hellhole. And here was Deena, helping to make my time shorter.
I can’t, won’t fight back. I’d lost my will to live somewhere back in my hospital room. If I can’t make time go backward and do it all over again, the right way, in a universe where I don’t erase both my life and that of the family in the minivan with one thoughtless act, then I just want time to stop permanently. Here, right now, was as good a goddamn place as any.
Turning my back on my attacker, I fall to my knees and prostrate myself in the dirt. The last things I see before I close my one good eye are three pairs of guard boots, coming toward me.
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