The Prison Cell

By
I was allowed visitors, but I never had them. I was allowed to walk around, but could never see the point. The dark, grey wall of my room loomed over me like an omen. I lay in my hard bed dreaming wandering thoughts, staring out the only window in the thin, cold walls. I heard a scream of laughter from outside somewhere. Life moved on around me, but I lay still. It hadn’t always been like this, but it was the only future I could see.
A thin shape stirred on the brown carpet, “Jack,” I called softly “come and sit up here with me, we need to have a talk.”
The scrawny figure pulled himself groggily to his feet, and dropped down next to me. Jack didn’t talk much, but he was a good listener.
“I'm sorry Jack, but that escape plan of ours isn't going to work.”
He groaned sulkily and rolled on to his back in frustration.
“The security around here is way too strong, and besides, we don’t have any money or passports, we would be back in here by the next day.”

I was starring guiltily at my sleeping companion when I heard a brisk knock on my door. I groaned loudly.
“Don’t you dare use that attitude old man, or I'll take away that radio.” Growled an irritated voice from behind the door. A fat middle aged man came striding importantly up to my bed side. He carried a tray of assorted bowls and cups and place it roughly on my table. He started gibbering on about various hygiene issues or having the radio too loud or something. He always did this to me, I wish the girl would come, she was always nicer to me.
I watched him turn and walk away, rolls of fat spilling from the sides of his low cut jeans. Jack had all ready eyed the grayish mush sitting in the chipped white bowl. I never understood how he could have such an appetite for the so called food they served here. He quickly woofed it down, leaving the bowl immaculately clean. I wondered if it tasted worse if you ate it slowly, so I followed suit and gorged myself on a plate of split beans and corn.

I slept next to Jack for a few hours, dreaming of white beaches and dark eyed women. This was pleasant for a while, until the fat man with low cut jeans invaded my dream and scared away all the girls. I woke with a start, as Jack began snoring loudly. I threw my pillow at him, but he just turned over and snored louder. I rolled my eyes and tried to get to sleep again. I had almost dozed off when I heard a soft knock on the door.
“Oh my God!” I yelled too loudly, “Can't you people just leave me alone?”
A timid figure appeared in the doorway. “I-I'll go away if you want me too...” It was the girl.
“Emily!” I exclaimed, the familiar voice softened me. “I’m sorry, I thought you were George.”
She smiled shyly. “I brought you a book, I can read it to you if you like.”
As she handed me the glossy book, I was taken a back by her hand next to mine. It was such an alien contrast. I was careful not to touch hers, in fear of my withered old hand somehow destroying its youth and perfection. She sensed my unease and told me that it was a poetry book and that she knew I would enjoy it. I smiled gratefully at her. Jack was sitting in the corner, listening contently to our conversation.
I sat on the bed next to her. She had a pretty face, with a small button nose, and wore an airy sundress with a blue and white floral pattern. There was something about her that made you spontaneously smile, no matter how moody you were. It puzzled me why she put up with a place like this, I was certain it wasn't at all good for her. She was like a beautiful wren living with bloodthirsty ravens.

She flipped the pages back and forth until she came to a roughly placed dog ear. I wondered vaguely whether this was some abstract poetry I wouldn’t understand, but I decided it didn’t really matter. I just liked hearing her voice.
“I think you’ll like this one,” she said smiling at me. “The Final Battle of the Endless War,”
Jake sat up straighter in moderate interest, and then she began, her voice cut the air like a knife.
“I wander airily through yesterdays blurred themes,
occasionally pausing at long lost dreams.
Age has wounded me, way beyond sore,
How stupid now seems the pride I wore.
Weak from the past, bitten by remorse,
unanswered questions and plummeting off course.
Sleep; my friend of the day and the night,
searching to find my forever lost light.
To feel real pain like a man and not the ache of my bone,
as to sit like a king on a diamond covered throne.
The free flowing rapids of life are racing out to sea,
which are hopelessly burdened by an aging me.
What is life but a game you try and lose,
but of when and how you are left to chose.
Don’t tire of life old man, your mind is still strong,
if this is what they expected, then prove them wrong.”

She raised her head and looked at my face, instantly I avoided her eyes and turned away. Looking slightly disappointed, she slowly stood up and walked to the door. She was about to leave, but changed her mind. She turned to face me. “I’m sorry Grandpa, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
I lay down on my bed and heard the door shut softly. I called Jack over to me. I turned to face him with a tear curling down under my chin. Life is hard for an old man and his dog, almost unbearable.





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