The hearing would be on the third they told me, along with four others. All of us convicted of the same crime; different victim. None of us would be granted bail, none of us denied the charge.
“Amber Fen, please rise.” The girl who stood up gave everyone a smile and laughed, her vibrant red hair bouncing behind her.
“Oh please, call me Amber Leslie. It’s my fiance’s name after all!” Amber had a sad look in her eyes while the guard pushed her towards the stand, “Bruh calm down!” The girl took a seat and sat within a puddle of her own irritably.
“You have been convicted of murdering your fiance, Edward Leslie. How do you plead?” The judge had a bored look, our case was just a part of the daily gray.
“Um let me think, I’d plead insane but isn't that what prison is for. Guilty please!” Amber laughed.
“I think that girl really is insane,” the man sitting next to me sent a puzzled look my way, he pushed his right handcuffed hand in front of my own, “I’m Blade nice to meet you!” I stared in outrage, we were being convicted of first-degree murder and this guy wanted to make a friend. I ignored him as Amber was taken through the doors and my name was called out.
“Alexa Shields, please rise.” The judge waited for me to approach the stand, “You have been charged with murdering your husband, Lentz Shields. How do you plead?” I blinked, but the tears did not go. How did I end up here? It was only last year that Lentz and I decided to get married. I couldn’t speak, I wanted to scream that I had no choice. I knew, though, that I had a choice, I was the one who killed him.
“Guilty,” I spoke, barely a whisper. I felt the ground move beneath my feet, I was running out. Ran home, Lentz was in the kitchen.
“Hey, beautiful! What took you so long?” I could hear his husky voice, could feel the safety of his arms around me.
“Alexa Shields please follow the guards,” annoyed the judge spoke, “Fae Ranford, please rise. You have been convicted of manslaughter and the murder of Janice Dasse. How do you plead?” The girl must not have been aged enough to even drink, Pale-faced, she rose from her seat and stood tall, her lip quivering with worry. Before I could hear any more, a broad-shouldered guard shoved me out the door. I heard nothing more of what happened. Blade still sat on the stands, he glanced my way and smiled. I looked to my right, to my left, up, down nothing made sense. I felt numb. I wanted to go back to Lentz, he’d tell me everything was okay.
“You look like you’re gonna cry or faint. Maybe both!” The girl whose feet were chained to mine spoke as though we were going for lunch. I looked up and saw red. “Amber, you probably saw me out there.” Amber stared at me as though I was a wild beast, I mimicked her expression and looked away.
Pretty soon Fae, Blade, and one more guy stepped in and were chained to our feet. “You don’t look like you could kill a soul. You sure you did it, or is this some sort of messed up cover?” Blade stared at me with burning intensity, I sat a little straighter.
“Don’t let my face deceive you, I killed him. Who are you to ask me otherwise?” I felt my neck burn, I hoped he couldn’t see it.
“Ooh, she talks. I thought you were almost mute for a minute there.” Amber remarked.
“Shush all of you! Do you have any idea how prison works, keep your head down don’t be noticed. Or you won’t last a day!” The unfamiliar man, sounded miffed as he sighed, “Stick together that’s the only way you’ll survive.”
“Excuse me, wacko, I’m tougher than I loo-”Amber started.
“I have seen many girls like you okay, my wife was like you. It grows old, learn some respect and shut it.” The man interrupted.
“I didn’t ask for your opinion!” Amber started turning red.
“Well, we are all in prison that means I don't need your permission. Anything you believe, any self-respect you have will be shattered once you spend a week there. So you know what, I dare. Prove you are more than a pretty face who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He ended the conversation just like that.
“Follow me, don’t try anything,” A stern looking man motioned for us to follow him. I felt my legs tugging, I was instantly reminded of the shackles on my ankles. I started walking in sync with Amber. We sat in a van, the guard shut the door.
“Why did you do it? You look like you wouldn’t hurt a fly, why kill your husband?” Fae asked, probably looking for a distraction from our dull fate.
“Why does anyone murder their husband?” I responded. The rest of the ride was filled with suffocating silence, everyone contemplating what would happen next. We got out of the bus, everyone tarrying while staring at the haunting, gated brick building. I swallowed the choking feeling in my throat, it was stubborn, though. Amber looked back and gave a reassuring smile.
“It can’t be that bad now can it!” Amber said out loud, I was sure though that she was trying to convince herself rather than any of us. The footpath seemed to stretch on forever, yet somehow we reached too soon. We had a check in of sorts, they briefed us. I barely heard a word though, all I could hear was Lentz telling me he forgives me. His last breath rung constantly through my ears. I followed Amber around for the first few days. I could barely eat or sleep. All night I’d stare at the gray walls missing my room dearly.
“Enough is enough, I get it we are in jail! Stop sulking, Me, you and Fae are having a girls night!” Amber faked a little bit of enthusiasm, truth was the three of us were stuck together, we shared a room.
“Let’s start with a game of truth or truth!” Fae starting jumping on the rock solid bed. “I’ll start, the reason I am stuck here with you all is because of an over zealous brat called Janice Dasse. You see my children, Mama Fae-”Amber started laughing, “Shush now child don’t be rude! As I was saying Mama Fae was low on money, her law firm had juicy details that needed to spill and people were going to spend good money to get their hands on it. So being the generous person I am, I decided to sell them, for a good price though. Only I wasn’t sneaky enough, Ms. Dasse caught me and threatened to tell my boss. I had hated her from day one! So I kinda ended her bratty days. Good riddance I tell you!” Fae started laughing, as though she didn’t just tell her the story of why she was sitting in front of us, in jail. “Amber you go next!”
“I was married to a guy, Edward Leslie. We stopped getting along, he made me mad. I killed him. End of story!” Amber clapped her hands, as though she told the best story in the world.
“Booo, why’d you kill him!” Fae complained.
“I didn’t tell the court, so I ain’t spilling to you either. Depresso your turn,” Fae shot Amber a look, “Jeez, Alexa then!” Fae smiled and I instantly warmed up to the both of them.
“I was happily married, we loved each other. It was close to our one year anniversary that Lentz started getting sick. On and off, so we got him checked out. At first it was nothing, yet pretty soon it started to get worse. He had to get numerous scans, we were starting to run low on money too-” I took a deep breath, “Pretty soon Lentz could barely walk, we spent our one year anniversary at the hospital. I was sitting on the cold floor, head tucked between my knees. The doctor had no idea what was going on. All they knew was Lentz didn’t have long. They needed to do some procedures that costed more than we both made a year. I started working three jobs, he was constantly at the hospital. When one day, he told me to stay home. He just wanted to be a fully functioning couple again. I sat by the bed and read him his favorite book. When suddenly he started rambling about how he can’t live like this anymore” I couldn’t continue, I started choking on my own breath. Suddenly the two girls were right beside me, holding me together. For now I was too weak to do it myself.
“Shhh, it’s fine. You don’t have to continue,” Fae looked at me, a few tears streaming down her eyes.
“I didn’t understand what he was saying. How could I! The next day, he told me to stay again. I did, I wish I didn’t. He explained how if I help him do this, we can both live our lives. Only he would have lost his. He signed a note, and told me if I didn’t help him he’d find another way. I helped him, how could I!” By now I was full on choking on my own regrets, sorrows and saliva.
“I know this isn’t the time, but you just said he signed a note! That was your get out of jail free card!” Amber looked so confused. I just shook my head, that note destroyed me. It broke me in places I didn’t think were breakable. I couldn’t ever show it to someone else.
“It’s her decision Amber. Okay Alexa, it’s fine it happened. He wanted it, you helped him. Shhhh,” Fae was trying to console me. I was about to tell them about his last words, but decided against it as those words were all that was left of him with me. Like that, we started becoming close. Amber was tough, she took care of us if anything tried anything. Fae was gentle, if anyone ever felt down, Fae knew how to help. I was the clever one, I could tell what people wanted. We were the three musketeers, I still missed Lentz every day. I knew it would never stop nor go away.
“You know what we need?” Amber asked out of the random one day, but no one replied.“We have to break out of here, I mean c’mon, I don’t wanna spend the next 20 years of my life stuck here!” She excitedly whispered.
“How do you reckon we do that, hmm?” Fae just sounded annoyed, I actually agreed.
“Well one day, we start wooing one of the guards you see! I think I would be perfect for that. Then slowly I’ll ask him to help us. Like get us a chainsaw or something like that. Then we leave, simple as that.” Amber sat back, smiling at her plan.
“Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in a metaphorical prison though?” I asked, contemplating the plan at hand. You could tell by the way Amber pursed her lip that she hadn’t understood. “For the rest of our lives, we’d be on the run. All of us admitted to our crimes so it’s not like we were framed. I don’t want to always be looking over my shoulder hoping no one recognizes me.” Fae nodded her head, and continued eating. Amber didn’t look like she was done though, yet she held her tongue which frightened me even more.
And so, time went on. January became October, almost an entire year had passed. Amber was constantly drawing out diagrams, writing plans or a journal not sure which, or exploring the prison. Fae and I eventually became extremely close. Whereas Amber hadn’t talked to us in months. Until our one year prison-versary, or that night to be exact.
“Okay, I have a plan set in place. Meet me by the clinic in about twenty minutes I have a surprise for all of you!” Amber looked excited, it was the first time in ages she had that Amberish glow in her eyes. So, trusting her we went. Then all I could remember was black and a thud of someone falling down next to me.
When I woke up, everything was moving too fast, my eyes were blurry and I was constantly drifting between consciousness and unconsciousness. Then I heard a high-pitched scream. I awoke with urgency to make sure everything was okay.
We were in a car, sitting to my right was a frantic Fae, in front at the passenger seat was Amber trying to calm Fae down and driving was a prison guard. I pinched myself once, then twice, thrice until my eyes tore up.
“No, no no no no! Amber why?” Was all I could ask.
“You’ll thank me for this later I promise. You guys have been the only ones not to leave me, the only people who hadn’t left me alone to fend solely for myself. I’m not leaving you guys, and I wasn’t going to stay there any longer. I’d much prefer my mental prison, I’ve been locked up there for as long as I can remember. I can’t be in two prisons at once. I just can’t, I can’t! We can start new lives, ones where we aren’t outcastes of society, lives where people understand us. We had to do this, I just made the decision first! Alexa, Fae I never wanted to do this, I had to though.” Amber continued in hysteria. She curled herself up on her seat, “You guys never left me, please don't leave now, please don’t go, please, please.” She recited those words like a mantra and everyone stung me. This girl in front of me was broken, I had to save her.
“You had no right, I don’t care about any emotional baggage you are carrying okay! Let me out, and I won’t tell them where you are going!” Fae exclaimed, not at all moved by Amber’s monologue. The guard stopped the car.
“Fae, if you have no interest in this leave. Just know that you would be living in-” The guard was interrupted by the sound of sirens behind us. Fae looked stricken and lost, she looked at all of us one last time.
“I can deal with a physical prison, I just can’t deal with the one up here.” She pointed to her skull, you could see her eyes watering, “ I’m not spending the rest of my life on the run. I’m sorry, but I won’t.” Fae opened the door.
“You don’t have to, you can stay with us we’ll make this work!” I grabbed her hand, pleading. She shrugged away my hand.
“I’ll give you guys about five minutes, don’t try anything. Drive like you have cops chasing you, cause you will.” With that final goodbye she raced out of the car, towards her preferred prison. The guard pressed hard on the acceleration, and I could hear Fae screaming behind us. I held back a sob, and stared out the window.