“Wait a minute,” Dr. Danner said, “So…You told him?”
“Yeeeeah. In hindsight, telling him I had relapsed in the middle of a party he had thrown for me probably wasn’t the best idea.”
“Well? How did he take it?” She asked.
Before I could respond, a knock at the door caused us both to jump. The door creaked open about an inch and a woman with long dark hair and leathery skin poked her head in.
“I’m so sorry to interrupt, Sylvia sent me to check and see how much longer you were going to be. Her shift is over but Miss. Johnson still needs to have her belongings checked, as well as a drug screen.” she said.
“We are finished. Just one more moment please, Joanie.” Dr. Danner smiled. “Okay, I’ll let her know.” The woman said as she quietly shut the door. “Okay, so that’s going to have to be it for today, but Tiffany, wow. I have so many questions I’d like to ask, as well as get some additional information. So, if it’s alright with you, I’d like to meet with you tomorrow once you get unpacked and settled in. Once we finish our meeting I will be able to set up a program that I feel works best for your recovery, sound good?” she asked, sticking out her hand to shake mine.
“Yes, that sounds great. So um, where do I go now?” I asked, shaking her hand. “Here, I’ll walk you down to Sylvia’s office. She is very nice. She handles all of our intakes as well as providing transportation to the girls. She is in recovery as well and she will be able to answer any questions you have.”
I followed Dr. Danner through the dimly lit hallway toward a door at the end. Apart from the light beaming from underneath the crack in the door, the rest of the place was dark, and quiet. Dr. Danner pulled the door open and gestured for me to enter.
“Okay Tiffany,” she said from behind me as I walked in, “Sylvia will take it from here, have a great night!” I waved goodbye as the door closed, and smiled nervously at the woman behind the desk.
“Sit.” she said, staring down at her cell phone. I assumed she meant on the bright pink couch against the wall, because there were literally no other chairs in the room. I lowered myself down on the couch and noticed that my brown paper bag from jail was sitting in the corner of the room, it was crumpled and empty. My papers and journals were scattered across the floor as if someone had dumped the bag upside down and shaken it.
I could feel the anger growing inside me as I looked at my postcards and letters that meant so much to me, wrinkled and scattered like garbage.
“I’ve already gone through your items, I couldn’t wait any longer,” Sylvia said abruptly.
“I see.” I said, staring down at the floor.
“I didn’t find any contraband, however I did find a few items of concern.”
“Who is Nikki?”
“Nikki. Is she your girlfriend? Aside from the fact that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes, we would prefer to be aware if any of our clients are currently in relationships.” she said, staring at me through squinted eyes.
I took a deep breath, attempting to maintain my cool. I was on the verge of snapping loose and I really needed things to get off on the right foot. If I f***ed it up here, I was going back to jail, and going back to jail would be a violation of my probation which meant my suspended sentence of 15+ years would immediately go into effect.
“She is not my girlfriend, no. She was a girl that I was, we were talking, in jail. It was nothing. I was bored and she just, helped pass the time I guess. I’m not gay.”
Sylvia stared at me for a moment and then rifled through some papers on her desk.
She cleared her throat and began reading aloud: “Baby, I love you so much. I can’t wait until we get out of here and can begin our life together. Are you going to get into Leap of Faith you think? If so, I live right around the corner and can come visit.” She set the paper down and looked at me, as if she just cracked the DaVinci code. She was acting like she had caught me in a lie, and to be honest, it was getting on my nerves.
“She wrote that awhile ago. A lot has happened since then and we haven’t talked in forever. Listen, I’m not gay, but I am friggin exhausted. You can keep the letters and examine them later or fingerprint them or whatever. I really just want to sleep.
She hesitated for a moment then stood up. “Okay, I’m gonna hang on to these,” I bet you are, “and we will talk more about Nikki tomorrow.”
“Sounds good.” I said standing up.
“Okay, I need you to lift your shirt and grab underneath the wires of your bra, pulling them out and toward me please. I just need to make sure you don’t have anything illegal on your person before I take you to your room.”
I pulled my shirt up and exposed my breasts to her. I wasn’t wearing a bra when I was arrested. And I just wanted to get this shit over with.
“Woah. Oh. Okay. You could have just told me you weren’t, um, wearing one. Jesus. Empty your pockets, please.”
“I don’t have pockets. These are pajama’s.” Obviously.
“Very well, I’ll show you to your room.”
I followed her through the building as she rattled off the rules of this place. To be honest, I wasn’t comprehending a word she’d said. I could hardly keep my eyes open and the sheep in my mind had already begun jumping over the fence.
“Any questions?” She asked, her hand on the door knob.
“Nope, I think I got it.” I smiled, having no clue.
“Great, here you go.” she said, quietly opening the door. It was dark, but the lights of several alarm clocks illuminated the room. I followed her closely as she tip toed through the darkness and realized there were 4 beds on the floor. No box springs, no frame, just mattresses on the floor.
Although it seemed a bit unprofessional, I was in no position to complain. I’d been sleeping on a plastic mat with a pillow made out of cardboard for half a year. This was the f***ing Ritz Carlton to me.
She pointed to the bed in the corner and gave me a thumbs up. I silently thanked her and watched her leave the room. I remember the other woman saying Sylvia’s shift was over and wondered who the hell was watching us if she was leaving. Then I wondered who the hell “us” was.
I’m going to bed in a dark room, and waking up to a house full of strangers. I’ve had some pretty awkward mornings in my time, but I had a feeling that this one would take the cake.
I laid down in the same pajamas I’d been arrested in back in November. I was wearing these the last time I’d slept in a bed. This whole thing was so surreal.
My head hit the soft feathery pillow, and tears of gratitude began running down my face. The soft mattress felt as if I was laying on a cloud and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with joy.
“I am laying in an actual bed.” I repeated over and over to myself, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was no longer an inmate.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was able to make out the structure of the room I was in, and judging by the snoring, I ascertained there were at least 2 other women in the room with me. The room smelled like a mixture of paint and shampoo, I assumed that it must have recently been renovated, which would explain the smell and the mattresses on the floor.
I closed my eyes and began silently praying to God. I thanked him for saving me from the dungeon I’d been living in and leading me to this new chapter of my life. Before I could finish my prayer, I drifted off to a peaceful sleep. The first, in a very long time.
I wasn’t sure what had woken me up, perhaps a noise? My eyes shot open and I glanced over at the alarm clock a few beds down, it was 3:33 am. I closed my eyes again and heard another noise, it was coming from the corner of the bedroom. It sounded like someone was whispering.
My gut instinct was to hide under the sheets because honestly –it was creeping me the f*** out. The whispering was hurried and agitated, as if someone was yelling at someone under their breath. Was someone on a phone?
I listened intently for a moment and the whispering suddenly stopped. Had I imagined it? I closed my eyes, attempting to fall back asleep and pretend I’d never heard the voices when suddenly I had the overwhelming urge to pee. I tried to ignore it, but it was as if my bladder was at maximum capacity, and there was no way I’d be able to fall asleep without going to the bathroom.
The bathroom, I didn’t even know where the hell it was. F*** me. I rolled off my mattress and stood up next to my bed. I began tip toeing through the room as the wood creaked beneath my feet.
“Looking for the bathroom?” a voice said in the darkness, stopping me dead in my tracks.
“Yes.” I whispered to the stranger.
“It’s the other way, that corner.” the woman said sleepily, pointing to the corner in which I’d heard the whispering. Awesome, I get to go by the scary ghost voice.
I could see light coming from underneath a door around the corner and I felt my way across the wall until my hand reached the knob. My heart was pounding as I silently turned it. I pulled it open quietly, not wanting to disturb the person who’s bed was directly outside the door and I silently slipped inside.
The light had been coming from a closet in the bathroom, and it illuminated the bathroom enough that I could see two stalls to my left. I breathed a sigh of relief and noted this would be the first time I took a piss behind closed doors in 121 days.
Before I could pull the door of the stall open, I heard a voice from inside.
“Did you get it?” It was a female, and she was whispering.
“No dude, can you help me?” another voice said from the next stall over.
“Yeah gimme one sec.”
Suddenly the stall flew open and I stared in horror, looking down at the red headed girl on the toilet seat in front of me She looked up at me and gasped when she realized I wasn’t her friend. “What?” the girl said from the other stall, but the red head didn’t respond, she was staring at me in shock.
She knew there was nothing she could do or say. It was too late.
I’d already seen the belt tied tightly around her bicep, and the loaded syringe jutting out of her arm….