There was an audible gasp from the occupants of the courtroom once I had admitted to committing those crimes.
I was careful not to look around at the officers surrounding me; but I didn’t have to see them to know they were glaring at me – I could feel it.
People shuffled around in their seats and whispered to one another as the judge thumbed through his file. That file contained all of the information pertaining to my case. The person I was before this no longer mattered. Nowhere in that file did it say “Defendant once saved her best friend from drowning at the beach”, “Miss Johnson had straight A’s at one point and was president of student government” or “Defendant once stopped traffic for 10 minutes to rescue a turtle”.
None of the good things I had ever done mattered now. The person I was now; had been reduced to a few pages in a folder on the judges desk.
I wasn’t sure how any of this worked. I had seen Law and Order countless times; so I assumed this was the part where he banged his gavel down and sentenced me to life in prison.
That didn’t happen. He looked at me once more and said “Next“; and slid my folder to the side as he clasped his hands together. A guard grabbed my shackles and said “Come on” as he ushered me to the same door I had entered.
What the…? That’s it?
“Scuse me, sir. Um, am I done? I mean wasn’t he supposed to sentence me or something?” I said. “Nope” the guard responded; his gaze fixed straight ahead. By now I had learned that my mere existence annoyed the police; so I generally kept quiet. I realized that they viewed me as scum; equivalent to a mangy dog with rabies. They never made eye contact and had a constant look of disdain on their faces any time they had to acknowledge me. It was like pulling teeth to get them to answer even the simplest of questions… So I stopped trying.
It would be 7 more hours until I made it back to the jail – I was exhausted – and starving. They hadn’t fed us a single thing the entire time we were gone and by the time we got back we had missed dinner.
I couldn’t wait to talk to Brandi. I had questions that I knew she could answer; and I could also use some cheering up – as the uncertainty of everything had made me feel 100lbs heavier; as if a brick had been placed onto my chest and I couldn’t remove it. It was hard to breath.
When I entered my cell; my eyes swept the room and landed on Brandi’s bunk- it was empty.
“Where the hell is Brandi?” I asked Charlotte (a prostitute that had been brought in the 2 days before. She was detoxing really hard and barely came out from beneath her covers. When she did it was for food or to use the bathroom – and I couldn’t help but notice the staggering amount of scabs covering her entire body. It was apparent that she was addicted to meth.)
“She gone“, Charlotte said peeking out to see my reaction.
“What do you mean she’s gone?!” I asked, beginning to panic.
“I don’t know man, they told her to roll it up. Someone bonded her out”. She pulled the covers over her head and laid back down to face the wall. I was shocked by my reaction to this news…
I began sobbing.
Uncontrollably, gut wrenching crying. I dropped onto my bed and covered my face. I had only known Brandi a short time – but friendships are so different in jail. You spend every minute of everyday with these people. One day in here is like a months worth of quality friend time outside.
I was heartbroken by her sudden absence.
I heard the familiar click of the main lights shutting down. It was time for bed and we were no longer allowed to speak. I sat in the dark quietly sobbing at the realization that my only real friend in here was gone. I was alone, I was hungry and nobody gave a shit. In jail people don’t care about your feelings; we are all in the same boat. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where tears get ignored and you are expected to handle your emotions on your own. Emotions were new to me. I didn’t know what to do when I felt sad or angry. It was as if I was losing control. My body had been taken over by feelings and thoughts and I had no coping mechanisms whatsoever. I’d been too busy getting high and feeling numb to process shit like this.
When the doors popped open for breakfast; I tried to open my eyes but they were swollen. I had cried myself to sleep the night before. It had been such a long time since I’d actually felt something real – once the tears started flowing – they hadn’t stopped.
“You look like shit” a voice I didn’t recognize pointed out. I looked to my left and realized there was a new person occupying Brandi’s bunk. She must have come in the middle of the night. I can’t believe I didn’t hear it.
I sat up in bed and stared at this girl. I was trying to get a read on her. If she was seriously insulting me right out of the gate I was going to punch her in the throat. I had hoped she was trying to be funny; because I was too exhausted to get into my first jail fight; even though I currently felt I was capable of murdering someone with all of the anger I had built up inside of me.
“I’m just f***ing with you dude…I’m Nicki,”,she said, sticking her hand out for me to shake, “you alright? Seems like you had a rough night”.
“Yeah I did. My best friend left when I was gone and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I will probably never see her again and that makes me sad.” I said as I stuck out my hand to shake hers. She had a firm grip. “Aw, that sucks man. I remember my first friend leaving jail. It gets easier. Come on, let’s get some food. Crying can make you hungry, also – I’m pretty sure it’s French toast and that shit is delicious”, she said standing up and holding out her arm to help me up. I paused for a moment; as desperately as I wanted to stay in bed, fbut rench toast was the bomb and I was starving. I grabbed her arm and pulled myself up.
As I followed her into the day room I took note of her walk. It wasn’t a normal girl walk. It was almost; manly. She had long dirty blonde hair; and the sides of it were shaved. When she got to the back of the line she turned to make sure I was behind her and smiled.
“What’s your favorite animal?” She asked as we inched forward toward the chow line. “What?” I asked. “What’s your favorite animal. Mine is a monkey. Sometimes I wish I was a monkey bro; you know how cool it would be to like, swing from trees and shit, just eating bananas all day?” She said bouncing back and forth as she spoke, imitating a monkey. “Okay first of all-monkeys eating bananas is a myth. They mainly eat leaves and flowers and bird eggs. Some eat bananas but that’s not like, all they eat; and second; why the f*** are you asking me this?”
“Woah Encyclopedia Brown, pump your breaks. I’m just trying to make conversation – cheer you up a bit. It makes me sad to see you sad and besides; we are gonna be sleeping next to each other for awhile. I figured it would be nice to get to know each other”. She said as she flipped her hair like Justin Bieber to get it out of her eyes. Her eyes were beautiful. I hadn’t noticed before.
It was her turn to get her food and once she did she stood off to the side while I got mine. I exited the line with my tray and she nodded her head for me to follow her. I guess we were sitting together now. Brandi and I used to sit together and it really annoyed me that this chick was trying to take her place.
She sat down at a table in the corner and I reluctantly slid into the seat across from her. I began poking at my French toast when suddenly a gorgeous dark haired girl I didn’t recognize came up to the table and touched Nicki’s shoulder. “Hey Nicki; long time no see. You just can’t stay away from this place can you?” She said smiling. I tried to ignore the conversation but Nicki introduced me to Angelina Jolie, just as I shoved a giant piece of bread into my mouth.
“Shawna; this is…Wait, shit, I haven’t even asked your name yet! What is it?” Nicki asked me. “Tiffermy” I said with my mouth full. Nicki laughed. “This is my new friend Tiffany.” She said smiling and gesturing towards me. Shawna’s face fell into a look of annoyance and she forced out a smile “Hi”, she said, looking me up and down. “Anyway Nicki; come by my cell later; I have something I wanna show you” She said winking as she walked away.
I looked up at Nicki with my eyebrows furrowed. “I know, she’s rude. Pay no attention to her – she always gets jealous when I talk to girls”, she said, sucking the juice out of an orange. “Why would she get jealous? That’s weird.” I said. “Yeah; she’s my ex. We dated a long time ago and she’s never been able to get over me. I have that affect on the ladies.” She said giving me a wink.
That wink; sent a vibration through my entire body. “Oh; okay. Your a lesbian. Gotcha. No that’s cool. I totally support the gays; I have gay friends, so ….ya awesome”, I said biting into an egg; trying to play it cool. Nicki froze and began laughing hysterically at me. I stared back; trying to figure out what I said that was so funny.
“Oh my God; that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. ‘I have gay friends’ haha. Oh man. I’m sorry. Whew. Yes, I’m a lesbian. I think females are the most gorgeous creatures on earth. Their eyes, their breasts, their laughs everything about them drives me crazy. I have only ever been with women; but don’t worry; I’m not going to jump on you when your sleeping or anything. I mean…unless you want me to”, she said with a devilish smile. There it was again; that tingle inside me. What the hell was wrong with me?
I began subconsciously fixing my hair and sitting up straighter. I don’t know what had gotten into me; but very suddenly, my feelings towards Nicki were-shifting. I watched as she ate her French toast and couldn’t help but feel a little; interested. I can’t explain what I was feeling – as all feelings were new to me. All I knew was that once I found out she was attracted to women; and had been so caring and kind to me so far; I was a bit…flattered.
She caught me staring at her and I quickly glanced down at my plate. “What?” she asked with a little smirk. My heart skipped a beat…What the….
“Giraffe”, I said.
“huh?” She said, looking confused.
“Giraffe; giraffes are my favorite animal” I said with a smile as my cheeks began to blush…..