I was jerked out of a sound sleep.
What was going on? What had I done wrong? I’d always tried to be such a good girl. I was only 18 at the time.
It was a long ride in the backseat of that vehicle from my house to the jail. I sat somewhat uncomfortably nodding in and out of sleep in the darkness of the wee hours of that morning. The only thing I could see through my translucent eyelids were the street lights as the car passed under them one by one by one. It was cold and I could hear a conversation going on around me. Were there more inmates?
This wasn’t the first time I’d been picked up. The feeling was sickeningly familiar.
As we pulled up to the prison gates I felt a sense of anxiety wash over me. The building was enormous. It’s walls made of cold hard concrete. An eight foot chain metal fence topped with rusty snarled barb wire surrounded it. It looked like its corridors went on for miles. I couldn’t even see where it ended. I didn’t want to go inside. I was hungry. I was tired. I felt helpless.
The officer led me out of the car and into the building.
What happened after that in my recollection is spotty at best. I remember the fear most of all.
Other prisoners in uniform…sitting in their cells. Walking in straight lines. Fights. The wardens broke them up and took those prisoners off somewhere else. Solitary confinement? The meals were horrible. We were told when to sleep…when to eat…when to think. The wardens wouldn’t let us talk to each other. Perhaps they were afraid we were too smart and could plan an escape. Some of us were able to escape. Those were the lucky ones. I heard that a lot of them are dead now or hooked on drugs. Prison had broken them. And speaking of drugs, you wouldn’t believe how easy it was for the inmates to get a hold of them inside.
The hours dragged on and on in that place. The accommodations were uncomfortable. We weren’t allowed any visitation. Everyone was miserable all of the time. We all just wanted out. We wanted our freedom. But we were trapped!
This story is just a distant memory now. It was from my Senior year of high school. I was living at home with my parents. My ride was provided by a neighbor. Her mom was a teacher at the high school. She would pick me up every morning and drive me into that prison of a high school. The wardens were the teachers and the walls of the school were my prison for 12 years. I did 12 years hard time. I can never get that time back. It’s a piece of my childhood that is lost forever.