The Start of Something

“The sooner you learn that all men are full of shit the better of you’ll be,” she tells me through a haze of cigarette smoke. She takes another drag from the near stub of the cancer stick. Her dark eyes never move from mine as I try to stifle the cough that threatens to break through.

I turn my head as tears begin to well in my eyes. I have to remind myself that this women, this shell of a person in front of me is my mother and a child’s love for her mother should never waver. But this ongoing mantra, does nothing to stop the thoughts of revenge that lay at the far reaches of my consciousness.

She continues to stare at me as I take in my surroundings. The overcast sky, the 20 foot barbed wire fence that encloses us. The sound of other prisoner’s that almost drown out my thoughts. “I know you didn’t come here to talk about boys Nora. What do you want?” she asks me as the dark depths of her eyes continue to peer into mine. They dive into my soul, searching for the part that I refuse her entry into. She knows me better than  I know myself and she has made me lose track of my thoughts. I am forced to speak to her again, forced to be a stoic as I can be, when all I want to do is strangle her.

“Where’s the key Monica?”

She smiles at me, a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes.

“My name sounds like venom coming from you. Don’t I get the pleasure of you calling me Mom?”

“That’s a privilege not a right. And you lost it when you were found guilty. Now tell me where it is. I have things to do.”

She continues to stare at me as I focus on the ongoing basketball game behind. A woman shoves another, hard, in the stomach, knocking her down. She proceeds with an effortless layup and makes a basket. The fallen woman gets up and tackles the victor from behind. I stare mesmerized at the violent beauty of the move. Punches are thrown, legs flail. I hear a crack and I see the deep russet color of blood coming from the victor’s mouth. I stare, both in awe and shock, at how quickly people turn to violence. Pride and dignity, animal instincts that have not altered despite millennia of evolution.

Prison guards break up the fight, moments after it’s already ended with a broken nose.  The lack of humanity would surprise me if I didn’t already have first hand knowledge. My focus goes back to Monica as she contemplates her dwindling options.

“This the only leverage I have.”

“Well, it’s time for you to give it up.”

Despite her callousness and her lack of empathy in the past, I am surprised as tears fill her eyes, seemingly asking for my forgiveness, forgiveness that I refuse to grant.

“I want you to continue seeing me.”

“I’m not surprised, but I’ll consider it once you give me what I asked for.”

She’s manipulating me, and I know it, but right now, I don’t care. She is responsible for who I am, and I hate her with my entire being.

“It’s in the backyard under the Barney’s house.”

I get up from the table. My rucksack heavy on my back as I position myself to move. Her voice catches me off guard as I continue towards the fence.

“You’ll come back, right?”

“I’m not making any promises.”


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