Today would be the last time I heard that lock engage. The last time I walked down the sterile corridor. And maybe the last time I’d see my friends.
Joy should pepper each step toward freedom, but sadness clouded my morning. Over my shoulder, the tear stained faces of my closest friends stared. Survival had been a team sport. I blew a kiss to the remaining quartet and left Cell Block C behind.
The guard slapped a piece of paper on the cold metal counter and shoved a pen into my hand. “Ahem.” He cleared the phlegm from his throat while he poked at the paper.
Tucking the wild strands of hair behind my ears, I eyed it with suspicion.
“Sign here.” His abrupt demeanor was expected. I was a number, another woman without value.
“What’s this?” Squinting to read the fine print, it stated I was signing for my worldly goods. Goods that had not been returned to me. Without a signature, would they keep my stuff? If I refused, would they incarcerate me again?
Frustrated that I had so easily reverted to the scared girl, I shook my uncertainty off. What could they do to me that hadn’t been done?
I had learned some valuable lessons in prison. Trust a few, fear the rest. Nope, there was no room in my life for the frightened, unsure Mickey of my past. I pushed the paper away in defiance. Firming my stance, I prepped for a confrontation.
“I’m not signing.” I laced my fingers through the belt loop and with a tug, pulled up my pants and self-esteem. I pointed to a specific line on the paper. “It says right here that by signing this form, I acknowledge the return of my belongings but you haven’t given me my stuff back.” My heart beat wildly in my chest. It was mere minutes until I was free to go home where everything would return to normal.
Thick, pudgy fingers reached under the counter and pulled out a plastic bag. With a yank, the taped closure was ripped free. Recognizable items were dumped on the table.
He continued to stare blankly at the unsigned paper. The tapping of his fingers on the edge of the counter provided the tempo to which I worked. I took an inventory of my life.
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