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I Am Free

I guess at the time, I hadn’t thought about the consequences. I guess it didn’t really matter to me. But now that I’m here I guess I should’ve thought about it. Or maybe I should’ve planned things better. Either way I knew I didn’t want to be here. It’s like this terrible nightmare I can’t wake up from. But the strange thing is I don’t regret it, I don’t want to be here but for some reason I don’t feel any regret whatsoever.  Although, I do want someone to pinch me to wake me up and say haha you were just dreaming you aren’t really here right now! I knew that was not going to happen. Maybe there were other things that I could’ve done besides what I did. There were probably other ways to handle it, but at the time I only saw one way to end it. Maybe I just regret getting caught.


Counting days is kind of a popular hobby in here. I’ve counted twenty two days. And I think I am already losing it. If I can’t handle twenty two days in here, I surely can’t handle a lifetime in here. There are men in here and some women that have been here for a much longer time than I have I know that, and part of me wishes I could handle it like they did. Maybe it’s because they’ve had time to adapt to it. I don’t think I ever will. And that worries me. One day I will break, I’ll snap. I lost all my faith the day I entered this place.


School was my escape from home. Most kids hated going to school and prefered to stay home. But not me. Most kids had a loving family to go home to and dinner waiting on the table. But not me. My mom was gone most of the time doing God knows what, but when she was home all I could hear was her obnoxious screeches. Over and over again telling me I was a mistake and she couldn’t care less if I was dead or not. And sometimes I would rather be dead than live with her. My dad was a drunk. All he ever did was drink. He drowned his sorrows and broken dreams with alcohol every night. Every morning. Every afternoon. Perhaps he did it so he wouldn’t have to hear my mother's loud shrieks  all the time. But most of the time he was the cause of her screaming. Everytime he got drunk, he got angry, every time he got angry they fought every time they fought he hit her. He just wailed on her over and over again, but she just took it. I think it was because of me, I really was a mistake, he hated her for having me and not giving me up and honestly so did I. I wish she would’ve just given me up. I’d be so much better off. She didn’t even fight him off anymore, perhaps she was used to it, or maybe she thought if she fought it, it would get worse. Sometimes I had the thought that she deserved it. It was a horrible thing to think but her physical pain was nothing compared to the mental pain she put me through. So I just sat there and watched.


I have no clue why they’re still married, or at least why they were. They’re no longer living anymore. I took care of that. That’s why I’m here in the Houston Texas State Penitentiary. I am here because in 1953 -I killed my parents.


You may think that sounds harsh, unfeeling or cruel and it was, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I sat in my Willow tree on a Friday night, stared up at the sky and just sat there and existed, it was so peaceful and serene. But that didn’t seem to last me more than five minutes. I begin to hear the screaming once again. The mind boggling fighting. And it gets more and more intense the more I hear and my head was pounding with fury. I just sat there and started to wish I didn’t exist, I sat there and wished I was deaf or even dead would have worked for me. But it just got louder as I sat there and the more I heard it and the louder it got, the more consuming it got. I was so angry. I just saw red. All I wanted was to sit in my tree and pretend I was anywhere but here.


But no, it went on for a good hour before I jumped down from the tree marched up to the house, swung open the door and snapped. I yelled and screamed at them, I was so angry that I don’t quite remember what I said. I looked over and saw the knife on the table and grabbed it. I didn’t realize what I was doing, but I saw no other way. The yelling finally stopped and there was silence among us. All of sudden they were both staring at me in utter disbelief. They tried to talk me out of it, they begged, they pleaded, but I didn’t listen.


I started with my father, because I knew he’d be the one to fight it the most, he would’ve tried to stop me if I started with my mother. I shoved through my mom and started jabbing him with the knife, he shrieked very loudly, and for a very long time but I didn’t stop. He tried to fight it off but he could barely move because he had already lost so much blood from the first stab. My mom just sat there, watching with this stunned look on her face. I think she was in shock because she didn’t try to stop me. I don’t think that she knew she was next.
It took about seventeen stab wounds before he didn’t fight it anymore, he was dead. His lifeless body just layed there on the kitchen floor and didn’t make even the slightest movement. My mom wouldn’t even look at his body, she tried to and threw up and as she was hunched over I started stabbing her in the back the way she stabbed me with her insults every night, I was stabbing her with the knife that was already stained red with what was left of my father. She did try to grab the knife from me, but I stabbed her hand before she actually could get the knife from me. It took only fifteen stabs before she died, I always knew she was weak. Then I  in the kitchen, sitting at the table by myself watching their bodies waiting for them to get up or even move. But they didn’t and that’s when I realized that they weren’t going to get up because there was no life left in them.


I sat there for about an hour before I looked up and saw that it was dark outside. I realized I had to get out of here before I got caught. I grabbed a garbage bag and ran to my room and swung my bedroom door open and grabbed whatever I could. As I had everything I thought I would need to go where ever it was I was that I was going, I heard a car pull up to the house, and then another. I started to panic and then realized I didn’t have any time to clean up the bloody massacre in the kitchen. I had no idea what I was going to do.


I tried to peek out the window without anyone seeing me, but I was quickly caught. It was the local police and they had the house surrounded and it was then that I knew, I had no way out of this. I was going down for murder and I couldn’t think of a plausible alibi for the time of the murder. Not one that they would believe anyways. They tried to get me to come out of the house “peacefully” as they put it but I just stood there. I couldn’t come out. So finally they said,
“If you won’t come out peacefully, we will have to force you out.”


So I came out just as they requested. Not because they would’ve forced me out, not because I felt like I deserved to be under arrest, but because I had nowhere else to go. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no other family to take care of me, that I know of. Nothing. I had nothing. Not that I had much before but you get the point.


I walked out so slowly that it felt as if time was in slow motion. I threw my hands in the air just as they said to do, they mosied up to me and slapped the handcuffs on my wrists and tossed me in the back of the police car and like my parents, I was gone.


I was in jail for a week before I went to court. I pleaded guilty. The judge didn’t feel the need to take this to a jury, so he gave me my sentence and sent me here, the state penitentiary. He said that because I’m seventeen I’m competent enough for a life sentence and I knew what I was doing so I was tried as an adult. I’m in here for life. I’ll never get married. I’ll never be able to give my children the life I never had. I’ll grow old in here, I’ll end up dying of a heart attack, or a stroke, or maybe I’ll just die in my sleep. Maybe I’ll even kill myself. I’ve got all the time in the world to think about it. A life time is a long time to just sit here and rot away with the thought of what I did.


My first night was the most restless night of my life, I tried to sleep but my thoughts were eating away at me. I woke up six times from the same nightmares over and over again. I kept reliving what I did and I started to feel guilt although I shouldn’t have. It was my only way to make it stop.


I was told that no one attended my parents funeral, that didn’t surprise me. They weren’t those people that everyone loved.


On my twenty third day in here, around lunchtime, I don’t really know the exact time because all the guards tell us is,


“You eat when I say you eat, you sleep when I say you sleep, you speak when spoken to, you do everything when I say so.”


  I went to do laundry after I had finished eating because we all have to have a job in here, we all have to “contribute” as the warden says. And I glanced over and standing there was one of the kind of guys you don’t mess with in here. I won’t say his name out of lack of respect although respect isn’t in his vocabulary, but he saw me looking over at him and said I was giving him a funny look that no one gives him. But all I really did was just look at him. And I couldn’t even get one word out before he just started wailing on me like my father wailed on my mother. And me, I just sat there weak, like my mother. This beating went on for about ten minutes before I passed out. All I can remember is the aggravating pain that I felt as his fists met with every inch of my body, I could feel the blood gushing out of me from god knows where. The pain was excruciating. I wish I could forget how it all felt. But I still remember how every punch felt.


I woke up to a strange darkness, I looked around and saw nothing but black. Pure black. I had no clue where I was until this blinding brightness came through. It was a guard. He looked at me and asked if I remembered where I was, I told him that I had no clue. He told me in this deep scratchy voice that I was in the hole, that’s that place where prisoners go for punishment, when we’ve been bad, but I wasn’t bad, I did nothing wrong. I asked him what I did and he wouldn’t even tell me, he just shut the door and let me sit there all by myself wondering what I did.


I was in there for a week. That was quite honestly the longest week of my life. But it was also the most peaceful. And also the most boring. When I came back to my cell I was greeted by a strange man sitting on the top bunk reading a book, the bible of all books. He didn’t even glance at me when I walked in. The guard slammed my cell door shut and failed to even mention anything about the man in my cell.


I looked over at him and asked him who he was, he said his name was Sebastian, and said he’d rather not talk about why he was in here although I didn’t ask. I told him my name, and I didn’t tell him why I was in here either. It was probably the most straight to the point introduction ever. We didn’t really talk much after that.
It was now day thirty one, and I still wasn’t used to being in here, it didn’t really seem to phase Sebastian. He acted as if he’d been in here for years. I was scared to do anything in this place. I was even scared to go to the bathroom. I was scared to eat, sleep, even just have a certain look on my face. Because one look can get you in a whole lot of trouble. It’s easier to just look down when you walk, then that way you won’t have to risk getting beaten to death although at this point that’d be fine with me.


On day thirty four, I was alone in my cell. It was night time a presume because of the pure darkness outside. Sebastian had gone to the hole for mouthing off to a guard so I was alone. Although it always felt like I was alone because we never really talked, or even looked at each other. That night I was feeling this loneliness that I’d never felt before, I tried to sleep it off, I tried to make the thoughts go away. But that’s all I had, was my thoughts, the ones about what I did to my parents, the ones about what I went through when I lived with them. Finally my thoughts overcame me. They were overwhelming. I quietly took the top part of my prison jumpsuit off, and ripped the sleeve off the left arm. I stood on the toilet and tied my sleeve to the bar on the top of the cell. It wasn’t long enough, I tore off the other sleeve of my suit and knotted it to the other one, it was long enough. I tied it around my neck, said sorry and my feet left the top of the toilet seat.


I was hanging for about ten seconds gasping for air, suddenly the lights came on and sirens went off. The noose I made had broken and my body slammed to the ground. I just lay there and balled my eyes out, screaming and shouting. I think even a few swear words left my mouth. The guards entered my cell and beat me with their guns. I hoped it would kill me.


But it didn’t. After they finished, they left me there with blood just pouring from every part of me. Part of me was dead. But I wished all of me was. The next morning after my suicide attempt, every part of my body ached. My eyes were puffy, my stomach bruised. I’m pretty sure I even had some broken bones somewhere in my body.


Sebastian came back and when he saw me he just stared. He had the look on his face when you see a bad car accident and you wanna look away but you just can’t. Like when someone you love is dying and you don’t know what to say so you just sit there and stare. Then after about thirty seven seconds of awkward silence, he went to his bed and just lay down and said nothing to me. I didn’t really wanna hear anything he would’ve said anyways.


I was laying in my cell that very same night, just staring up at the top of the bunk, thinking, thinking about that night with my parents, thinking about the things I could’ve done different, about how I could’ve escaped before the police threw me in here, about what I tried to do, about basically everything under the sun. My head was just pounding with these thoughts. Then, Sebastian leaped down beside me from the top bunk, looked at me, pressed his fingers against his lips and said


“Shhhhh.”


A little of his spit left his mouth and struck my face. I asked him what he was doing and once again he shhed me. Then he said in a soft tone,
“Do you wanna get out of here?”


I was ever so confused as to what was going on. I whispered back and asked him what in God’s green earth he was talking about. He said back to me,
“You heard me.”


“Well do ya or are you gonna spend the rest of your life in here, weeping about your parents and what ya done?”


I sat up in my bed as shocked as ever, how could he have known what I did?


I hadn’t talked to anyone in here, or told anyone what I did.


I told him that I didn’t know what he was talking about and he knew I was lying. He said,
“If you say so but, whatever you did then seems to be eating you alive, and being in here doesn’t help ya one bit.”


At first I thought this was a sick joke. Escaping, if I got caught and thrown back in here there was no way I would ever see the light of day again. And I told him that. He just said,
“Yeah, keyword, IF. IF you get caught, that’s why we won’t. You worry too much.”


And I surprised myself and agreed to this. I was going to escape.


I had no idea how we were going to do this and get away with not getting caught and thrown back in here. That was all him. He said he had a plan and to trust him. So I did. I don’t know why I decided to trust a man I hardly knew anything of. I didn’t even know why he was in here. I didn’t know how old he was, although I knew he was older than me. I knew nothing but his name. And somehow that was enough for me. I was putting my life in this stranger's hands and that was insane. But that was what I was doing.


It took days for him to even tell me a solid plan, all he told me that was we had to keep our distance from each other everywhere we go except in our cell so that way no one suspects anything of us. If we’re seen with each other too many people would get ideas and that’s all people in here need to get us in trouble.


It was day forty seven and in our cell that night, as I was sleeping I heard a strange noise and I woke up to Sebastian's face looking right at me, just smiling. It kinda creeped me out. Then he asked me if I was ready to hear the plan, and a little uneasy I told him I was. I was a little worried and frightened to hear it but I didn’t really have a choice at this point, I had already agreed to join him.


Here was the plan: Sebastian had been “acquainted” with one of the guards, he wouldn’t tell me which one but this guard had agreed to help us. There was a spot by the electric fence where the guard had dug a hole a hole big and deep enough for us to fit through, he had a fake patch of grass covering it so nothing looked out of the ordinary. He was going to pretend that we had disobeyed him and take us out to punish us. I soon learned that it was the chief guard, the one who threw me in the hole. Coincidence. Now since he was chief  he couldn’t be questioned about what he was doing or why he was doing it. I had wondered why or how Sebastian got him to agree to it, maybe they knew each other somehow some way, I really don’t know. At this point I didn’t care, I just wanted to get out of here.


He never told me when it was going to happen, just to be ready at all times with anything I wanted to take with me. I didn’t really have anything that meant anything to me. So I told him I was ready whenever it was time. Now all there was left to do was wait. It made me so anxious waiting, never knowing when it was going to happen, or exactly how. I was nervous about it twenty four seven until it finally happened.
On day fifty, at around what seemed like midnight, I awoke to a loud, deep voice that reminded me of my father's whenever he yelled at my mom. And it was then that I knew this was going to be my last couple seconds in this cell, in this bed, in this prison and I felt a sigh of relief. I was as ready as I’d ever been in my whole life. But I was also scared because it seemed so real, him yelling at us like we actually did something wrong, and like we were actually being punished.


He yanked us out of our beds and we fell to the floor, it hurt so bad because of the hard cold floor beneath me felt as if I cracked a few ribs. The only thing he said to us was,
“You two imbeciles think you can get away with something like that, well you sure are wrong.”


He was dragging us both by our ears, it felt like my ear was going to come off my head. It was really frightening, it felt real to even me.


One guard had stopped us and asked what he was doing with us, the chief guard told him that he didn’t have to justify anything that he was doing to him, that he was going to, “Get them under control.” After that no one else had stopped us we just kept going until we finally got outside and he shoved us into the fence. He slammed his nightstick into the ground towards me to make it look like he was hitting me. As he was pounding the ground he whispered “Run.” Sebastian lifted up the false patch of grass and slid under it like a snake through the grass. He had to squeeze through it because the space was too tight. I was smaller than him so it was easier for me.


As I got under the fence and out of the prison boundaries, I stood there for a few seconds. Sebastian had said something to me but I was zoned out and felt the sense of freedom I felt when I was sitting in my tree. I felt happy. And that’s something I haven’t felt in a long time and it felt liberating. I am free. I can start a new life.
When I came back to real life I looked at Sebastian and he nodded his head towards the field and we took off. I had never run so far in my life and I was so tired but I kept going. Then from a far distance, after we ran for about two  or three miles sirens went off. It worried me because I wasn’t very fast and I thought I was going to get caught because that was the siren that went off when a prisoner escapes. We stopped and looked at each other and started running again. We were in the woods somewhere I’m not completely sure where. Then I saw this large body of water like a lake or a substantial pond. He said we had to go in it if we wanted to get to the Mexican border in time.


“The Mexican Border?” I asked him and he told me it was the only place they can’t find us.


“You wanted this, remember that.” He told me.


And so I went along with it, not because I wanted to but because I had no choice anymore. I jumped in the icky brown water and felt the mushy sand beneath my feet. And finally it got deeper and we had to begin swimming.It was so hard to swim with the weight of my clothes dragging me down but I kept going. We were in that water for what felt like hours upon hours. I was unfamiliar with this water, or any water for that matter. My parents had never taken me anywhere to swim, or even taught me how to. But I was doing just fine on my own. Just as I did everything.


When we finally reached the end of our “little” swim, we trudged out of the strange water that smelled of dead fish. When we got out of the water our clothes were soaked and incredibly heavy. I took my shirt off and tried to ring it out but it didn’t do much. My clothes were drenched, it was so hard to run so I just jogged for a bit and Sebastian kept yelling at me to hurry up but I just ignored him.


We walked for about another hour or two in the pitch blackness of the night. I was walking behind him, I was just staring at the ground when he came to a halt. He told me to stop and so I did. He told me to duck and so I did. I saw flashes of light and heard three different voices, all mean. I peaked over the prickly bush we were hiding behind and saw where the three deep, scruffy voices were coming from. We were at the Mexican Border. I started to feel this rush of fear once again once I saw where we were headed.


I looked over at him with my eye sockets just about to pop out of my head, I was shocked. I wasn’t prepared to leave the country, but maybe in a way it was what was the best choice for me right now.


In a low tone I asked him, “Is that where we’re going?”


Although I already knew the answer.


“Yup. Good’ ole Mexico.”


I just nodded my head and  asked him how we were supposed to get through. He told me not to worry and to follow his lead. He started to walk up to the soldier like you would walk up to an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. He whispered something to him, and I just stayed behind and watched them as they exchanged and few words. Then he handed him some papers and he signaled over to me and I walked over to him as slow as I could, trying not to make eye contact with one of the soldiers. And then we walked past the little shack they were standing by and went through the gates. We were officially in Mexico.


I looked at Sebastian and he looked back at me with a simple look and acted as if I knew what was going on and then kept going. He said nothing and handed me this folder with an abundance of papers in it. I tried to open it but he slapped my hand and said to wait until we got there.


Got where?


It bugged me a little bit that I had no idea what was going on most of the time, I just went with the flow and did whatever he told me to do, but then I realized that it was probably best for me not to know. Then that way I couldn’t find a way to ruin it, because as my mom used to tell me, I ruin everything.


It felt like we were walking for an eternity once again, miles and miles of nothing. No trees, no towns or cars or people. Just dirt. We walked for so long it felt like the bottom of my feet were going to burst. I started to hear a noise and realized it was my stomach. I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch time the day we left. I didn’t say anything however. I felt my hunger was probably the least of our worries right now.


I was never the smartest kid in social studies class when it came to maps and states and directions and what not. So I didn’t know where I was going or where I was. All I knew was that I was in Mexico.  And Sebastian certainly wasn’t going to tell me where we were, until we reached this little town with a sign that said “Nuevo Leon.” And I knew that this was it. This was where my new life was going to start whether I chose to stay here or not, this was a start and for me that was enough.


He glanced over at me and said “You can open it now.”


In that folder with the bundle of papers, was my new identity. I was a new person. A new life was ahead of me. A road of possibilities is now in front of me. I can forget what happened and what my life was and think about what it’s going to be.


I never understood why Sebastian chose to help me. Why he brought me along with him. I never got to ask him that because as soon as I looked up from the papers in my hand, he was on his way off to wherever it was that he was headed. He didn’t even say goodbye. He just turned, looked at me, smiled and walked along. I guess that was his goodbye.


It felt good to be free. It felt good to be able to walk around and not get yelled at for the littlest things. It felt good to not have to worry about getting thrown in the hole. I got to look around and breathe in fresh air again and think about all the things I saw around me instead of what I had done. I wasn’t surrounded by four walls with scary writing on them. I didn’t want to die anymore. I was only in there for about fifty some days but those fifty or so days were the worst days of my life. But so were the days I lived with my parents. So the first seventeen years of my life basically. But that didn’t matter to me anymore, what mattered was the next seventeen years, or eighteen or nineteen or however long because this was the start of my new life. I have the chance to start over and make something of myself again.  This was something that I have waited for, for what seems like forever. I am as ready as I’ll ever be.


I am free.

 



 




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