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Tarnished Silver

People always assume I’m scared or distant with my uncle since he’s been in prison for so long. I couldn’t imagine being either of those, because even though my uncle is in a not so fairytale palace with nothing but closed doors and I only get to see him a few times a year  he's like my best friend. We talk about all the things we are going to do and the places we are going to go when he gets out.

 

I remember once we drove about two hours and waited in the car for around 6 just like every time we went to see him  because the prison was way out in Lancaster. We were parked outside a long tarnished silver gate with intimidating barb wire on top of  it. The many solar panels that were behind it, the parking lot, the gates that seemed to be layered on beyond that, and finally the prison. I hear the whoosh of cars growing and fading as they raced by us. The car's weight shifted so we rocked gently side to side, you could hear the widow held up by an old door stopper shake, clink clink clink that somewhat satisfying sound filled my ears. In those very long 6 hours I slept, talked with my grandma, but most of all watched. I saw the long, dark vacant road we were parked along the side of, the on going piece of earth across the cracked street that was filled with  long dead grass, the prickly oatmeal colored tumbleweeds, the coyotes which we heard calling out to the wind from time to time but the thing I watched the most was the big brick made sign that said DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON in big bold letters. I studied all of it features and had a love hate relationship with them all. I loved it because it reminded me of all the good memories i've had with my uncle who is kept behind the long tarnished silver gate and hated it because it was that tarnished silver gate that kept him from making even more beautiful, precious memories.  Finally after a gated pathway that led to waiting in two other rooms one filled with a love and smell of coffee and the other filled with CCOs and metal detectors, I went into the room where the floors looked like they had gone through hell  and the vending machines held food that was the coach brand of school cafeteria food. We bought 2 sprites, a coke, skittles, chow mein, hot cheetos, a burrito, a fruit mix, and a chicken salad just like we did every other time. We went to the table we were assigned and sat in the chairs that were too high so our knees barely fit underneath and waited more. My uncle came out stood in a line with a few other inmates in his blue jumpsuit with CDC in ugly yellow capitals going down his leg, and white t-shirt that’s collar peeked out around his neck and finally sat down with us. My uncle is a 5 foot 4 inch man with straight dark brown slicked back hair, he had a very neatly trimmed mustache, dark brown eyes that slanted slightly downward at the end, his mouth was small but not small enough to be hidden under his facial hair. I loved going to visit him, seeing my friend behind the three rooms of waiting, the long pathway, the parking lot, the 100’s of solar panels, the intimidating barb wire  and the long tarnished silver gate that it sat on, the dark road, and the piece of earth that put us 103  miles apart.






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