“Was it scary?”
Sarah asked, taking a bite of her honey bun.
“Ha!” I replied, still shaking from adrenaline. I had been back from court for about 2 hours, and my heart was still pounding like a drum. “Scary isn’t even the word. It was one of the worst experiences of my life”.
Her eyes grew wide with surprise, “What happened?!”
I had been dreading going to court and testifying against Lazarus. I knew that I would forever be labeled a snitch, and if he didn’t want to kill me before, he certainly would now.
“I…I can’t tell you”.
Her face twisted into an expression of confusion and annoyance. “The f*** you mean you can’t tell me?”
“My lawyer said I can’t talk to anyone about the details of the trial because it’s ongoing I guess”.
“Hell no, first of all, I don’t count as ‘anyone’ and second of all, I’ve been waiting alllll day to hear the details and you’re telling me I can’t? I literally feel like I’m gonna cry. Come onnnnnn. There’s zero excitement in here, give me sommmmething”.
I remained silent for a moment, contemplating whether or not it truthfully mattered if I told her. According to my attorney I could be prosecuted for divulging confidential information regarding an ongoing trial, but I highly doubted Sarah would run and tell anyone.
Besides, I needed to vent.
“Okay, I’m not going to tell you details of the case specifically, but I will tell you that the defense attorney is a f***ing asshole and made me look like an idiot“, I said crossing my legs and getting comfortable. I could tell she was excited by the gossip, because her eyes grew wide and she inched her chair closer.
“The guy basically said that I was a piece of shit felon and no one could take me seriously because I’m a known liar and thief”.
“What!? No he diiiiiiidn’t”
“Swear. And thennnn, this asshole has the audacity to turn to the sheriff’s in the courtroom asking if they could believe a word I said, given the fact that I stole from one of their ‘brothers in blue’ and lied to the entire sheriffs department for 3 years straight”.
“Yes, and then–”
“Tiff, it’s for you”, someone yelled from the day room, interrupting my story right before the good part. I leaned back on my bed and looked through the space between the bars of my cell to see who was calling out to me.
Shelly was standing at the public defender phone clutching the receiver to her chest as another anxious inmate tried to grab for it. “Stop, hoe!” Shelly yelled, “He ain’t call for you”.
I was already running to the phone, anxious to see what my public defender wanted.
“Hello?!” I breathed heavily into the mouth piece. “Yeah, hey, listen. I wanted to let you know I just got an email from Bridges in St. Pete. They accepted your application and are going to be here to pick you up on your release date next week”.
I had filled out the application for Bridges rehab when I first arrived in jail. I was desperate to attend a rehab rather than go away to prison, so I filled out a bunch and mailed them out to different places.
This was before I knew my father had cancer. I would be so far away from him. This was before I met Ryanne from Leap of Faith rehab. This was before everything, I didn’t want to go.
“Oh… Okay, um, I was kind of hoping to go to Leap of Faith. It’s much closer to my dad and –”
“Oh. Wait, what?” I asked, taken aback.
“No. Absolutely not”.
“Absolutely not, what?”
“Let me get this straight, you don’t want to go to Bridges, a structured, reputable rehabilitation center. You want to go to Leap of Faith, where girls can come and go as they please, meet up with their dealer in the parking lot and get high right in the facility?”
“I ….Um…I don’t even know what you’re t–”
“Let me ask you, why would you want to go there?”
“Well, because I would like to work on building a relationship with God and–”
“Uh, excuse me?!”
“You want to get high, and you heard that you can do it there. I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve met tons of girls like you who want to take the easy way out at Leap of Faith and I’m sick of it. The place is a joke, you are going to Bridges and they will be there next week to get you. Goodbye”….‘Click’.
I slowly hung up the receiver, baffled at what had just occurred.
He spoke so fast, so matter-of-factly. I had to sit down for a moment and process this. Why did he say I wanted to get high? Was there something he knew about the rehab that I didn’t?
I guess it doesn’t matter now. I’m going to Bridges, and there’s evidently nothing I can do about it.
It was toiletry day and everyone had lined up for their items by the time I’d gotten off the phone. I headed to the end of the line and my friend Charlotte was standing in front of me.
“Do you know anything about Bridges?” I asked her. She turned around to answer but before she could, the girl in front of her whipped her head around to face me.
“You said Bridges?” she asked.
“Yeah, my public defender said that’s where I’m going when I get released”. Her eyebrows raised and she turned back to face the front of the line without saying a word.
“Have you heard of it?” I asked, stepping up as the line slowly moved forward.
“Girl, I been there. You might as well stay here. It’s run by the Department of Corrections. It’s basically jail”.
My heart dropped. I had been so happy that my release day was approaching, and this girl said that basically I had another 6 months of this shit. I wanted to cry.
“What do you mean it’s like jail?” I asked feeling more and more panicked.
“Um, let’s see. You can only bring 6 personal items with you, you wear a uniform, you are told when to eat, sleep and shit and you are bunked up with 6 other girls. The rules are the same there as they are here. The only difference is you go to stupid ass NA and AA classes” she said, crossing her arms. “I couldn’t take it, I ran. That’s why I’m here”.
I was lost in thought when the corrections officer screamed at me. “I SAID, what. Do. You. Need”. I snapped back into reality and was met with a pair of glaring eyes.
“Oh, sorry. Um, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Please”. I said quickly.
“No thank you, not tonight”.
“Nasty ass” the deputy said under her breath, thrusting a roll of toilet paper into my outstretched hands.
I rolled my eyes and headed to the cell. They gave us 1 hour with the razors, and in that hour all the women are clamoring to get into a shower stall and speed shave before the razors had to be returned. I wasn’t in the mood.
Besides if I got my hands on a razor, I’d probably cut my f***ing wrists right now.
The following week was a haze. I spent the majority of time sleeping because of my seizure medication, and when I was awake, I was crying and dreading my release. I didn’t want to go to Bridges. I wanted to be close to my family. I wanted to learn about God and I wanted to wear regular clothes and hear music.
I had felt such a connection to Ryanne the day she came in and I was heartbroken at the prospect of being shipped to another city when I thought for sure God had a plan, and had sent her to bring me to a place I belonged.
“2 more days ya lucky bitch, you excited?” my Bunkie Candice asked while munching on a Chik-O-Stick.
“Not really. You know what’s funny?” I began, “The whole time I’ve been here, every single time the voice came over the loud speaker and told someone to roll it up to go home, I’ve been insanely jealous. I have longed to hear the words ‘roll it up’ since I’ve been here and now, I’m dreading it”.
I stared out the window of my cell. The sky was dark gray, and beads of rain began peppering the window. I missed the rain. The way it pelted my skin as I ran to seek shelter from it. I would lay flat on the grass and let it drench me if I had the chance. Grass, I missed grass.
“Are you Tiffany?” a voice said from behind me. I spun around and saw a blonde woman in high heels and a bright pink shirt, smiling at me from the entrance of my cell.
“Um, I am. Who are you?” I asked, looking her up and down.
“My name is Felicity, and I’m the owner of Leap of Faith. I heard you spoke with my daughter, Ryanne”.
Holy shit. You’re a day late and a dollar short, lady. I thought to myself.
“Yeah, I did. I really wanted to come to your program but, apparently that’s not going to happen”, I said, feeling defeated.
I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of sick joke God was playing on me. 2 days before my release this lady shows up, now that it’s too late.
“Well” she smiled. “I wouldn’t be too sure if I were you”.
“Let’s just say, I have a way of getting what I want. Ryanne spoke very highly of you, so I did some research. There’s a loophole in your sentencing guidelines. I may be able to work something out. Would you be interested?” She seemed so confident in herself.
“Um, I mean my attorney said it wasn’t going to happen But of course I’d rather go with you than to Bridges”.
“That’s all I needed to know” she said as she gave me a wink. She turned around and walked away, her heels clicking loudly throughout the day room until she disappeared out the door.
What the hell is this lady planning? And how is she planning on doing it in one day?
I slowly raised my head to the sky and smiled. “Okay God, let’s see what you got“.