Jack's Fence This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 5, 2010
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There is a prison in the heart of Columbia County. Its fence is wired with flesh-gripping hooks that speak to the reality that he can't leave. I know that fence all too well. I know the way it makes me feel. I can't bear to look at it, but I must.

My family goes to visit him. We wait in line for what seems like forever. We hand the guards our identification cards and pass through a metal detector. When we see him, I tell him, “If you ever come back to this place, I swear to God, I'll have nothing to do with you. I'll be finished.”

He's my brother, Jack.

He's bald now; the prison shaved his head. Instead of regular clothes, he wears an orange suit that spells C.C.I. in bold, black lettering.

We enter a lounge-type room. The visitors sit in the blue chairs, while inmates sit in the single black chair placed at each table and carry on precious conversations with their loved ones. There, at those tables, we sit together as a family united for a few hours.

I look around and see smiles on young children's faces as they happily embrace their fathers. Tears fall from their eyes as they walk hand in hand with their loved one around the visitor area.

Jack and I like to go to the canteen for food. I can't hand him money; I have to pay for what we order. Money is contraband in this facility where he has been for the past five years.

I can't imagine what it's like to be told what to do. Everything is controlled. They're like bulls in a rodeo, sent down the chutes and then locked in cages. There is a sadness in his eyes as he waits to be set free, even though it certainly isn't his first rodeo. We have had several ordeals with him going to jail.

When I heard the sentence spill from the judge's lips, I could only feel anger. Why did they take him away from us, his family? Now I know that going to prison saved his life. If the judge hadn't given him this sentence, he might be dead now. He might be a mindless puppet controlled by drugs. Or a grown man trying to get himself out of an early grave, digging shovel-load after shovel-load only for it to fall back on top of him. That battle is over now. He only has to prove to himself and us that he is capable of living a drug-free life on the outside.

I count the days until he comes home. It's only a matter of months now. He's been reading his Bible ever since his incarceration. He has also written several books. Most of his time is spent reading, writing, and working out. He keeps to himself. He writes us letters. I've saved every one in a box.

I look at the prison as a barrier between us. He is enclosed behind brick walls, and encircled by a fence. They treat him like an animal, taking his freedom away. If only the guards knew how painful it is to watch your loved one in captivity. My brother is a part of me; sometimes I feel as if I am caged up with him.

I hope he can make ends meet and catch up on time lost with us and his own family. He has two beautiful kids, a boy and a girl. He has missed many birthdays and first days of school.

But soon that fence will open and with it will come a new opportunity. There will no longer be a divider between us. The missing piece will be placed over the hole in our hearts, a special spot reserved just for Jack.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Hover This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 26, 2011 at 7:44 am

I just love your writing style! Has your brother gotten out of jail yet?

Great writing! :D

Dackary replied...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Yes my bro has gotten out of jail. :)
htrae22 said...
Mar. 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm
This was really well written i am sorry you had to go through that
apocalyptigirl said...
Oct. 3, 2010 at 10:03 pm
Despite some grammar errors, this really was a beautifully written piece. I think it's nice how your brother gets to come home on Chri.stmas Ev.e. :) The only thing I didn't like was sometimes you'd repeat things unnecessarily, like "enclosed behind brick walls, and encircled by this wall" and "the letters CCI in bold black lettering."
Dackary This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm
thanks :) for your feedback
Ms. Perkins said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 9:36 am
I enjoy reading your work! Keep writing and keep me in the loop of all your new pieces!
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