I've never had the misfortune to end up in prison, but this might as well be it. As of last month, I live in a single cell with my rather strange room mate in a perpetually annoying creaking bunk bed. There are windows, of course, but they are too high to see out of unless you're on the top bunk, and the view is pretty awful anyway. I don't care much for it. Each 'prisoner' receives the bare necessities upon arrival, such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and clothes; and funnily enough, conditioner is off limits. We get three meals a day, mostly consisting of utter garbage from the cheapest of suppliers. Am I boring you yet?
An unspoken bitterness and apathy sets over the place every day through the monotony of it all, not even because of the conditions, but because no one belongs here.
Well, that's what everyone says.
My room mate, Johnny, sat polishing his shoes on his top bunk, his expression becoming more dull and distant each day. He was cracking. He'd been here almost all his life. Maybe he was becoming institutionalised. Would I be?
I didn't want to know the answer to that question, because one day, I won't have to wake up at 5am for breakfast consisting of carrot sticks and porridge.
It had been almost an hour when his head twitched slightly and his eyes drifted slowly to my face. I half looked at him. "I'm gonna take it," he mumbled. Take what? I kept silent and waited for him to speak, still only half acknowledging him. He was speaking to himself again.
"I will," he mumbled, a fraction louder, "I've been waiting so fucking..." Then he made a strange inaudible noise, reaching higher pitches then sucking in as if taking a huge breath, "...long." I stay silent, because asking would only cause him to spill, spill into a desperate mangling of words that would end in another eeire awkward silence. His hand frantically reached into his pocket, producing two pink oval shaped pills wrapped in cellophane. His eyes peer through his outgrown mahogany hair, greased with sweat, at the pills for some time. I had never seen them before.
But he did not take them. He waited. Until the doors opened at 8 for supper, 3 and a half hours from now.
I was still silent. None of my business.
Time itches away. I think about my father. I think about my sister. My name; now 117 instead of Dexter. My forced shaved head. I think, and I think till I'm almost drifting off into a constantly much needed sleep. It all comes at once. I let it.
But the time is now 7:59, and I ignore the anxious sound of Johnny's humming, even though it is louder and shakier than before. That is when the door snaps open, startling me to sit up. I slowly remember it's supper time again, and stand.
Behind me, I hear a faint snapping sound of the small pink pill and now I know that soon after that he had swallowed it, and it was being pushed ruthlessly down his throat, with no return. Suddenly, undescribed fear sets in at the bottom of my stomach and it seeps it's way up into my throat, almost choking me.
"Take these," he says, and even the quietest whisper from him makes me jump again. I feel his heat behind me. His breathing, almost sounding like his final ones. Then he thrusts the one and a half pills into my pockets, and I stand there motionless.
This is state downworth mental institution, a place of discipline and bettering yourselves, and this is your home.
And with that, pounding in my ears for the thousandth time, he steps into the corridor.