Timekeeping has never been one of my strengths. Perhaps it’s an Irish thing, I don’t know. In any case, I missed Sacha Black’s Writespiration for Death Row – sorry, Sacha – but as I have a story hanging about, I thought I may as well post it here. If you haven’t visited Sacha’s blog yet, please follow the link and check her out. Not only is she the source of great writerly posts and authorly wisdom, but her Writespirations draw some fantastic quality flash fiction writers. However, my fave posts are those which fall under the heading of Weekly Wonders… and if you want to know why, all I will say is that she is a ‘lover of all things strange and unusual’. Go see!
He doesn’t know I’m here, on the other side of the glass. He never asked me to come, and I didn’t offer. I didn’t know if I could be strong enough, but how could I stay away?
Just one pane of glass, that’s all that stands between us. I press my hands against it, feel the cold unrelenting pressure against my fingertips, and it soothes the throb in my head, the roar in my ears.
He is weeping, but I won’t let myself feel pity. I suspect you won’t believe me, but the truth is, he is as much a victim in this as all the others. The ones he brutalised. The ones he helped on their way to salvation.
A decade of words on pages swapped, thoughts and emotions spilled along with tears, sadness, and joy. Confessions, both mine and his. We understood each other, and that was not something I expected when I began this journey.
You see, I too feel loneliness. I know despair, how one can sink into it so dark and deep, that the light of hope, always just beyond reach, gutters and dies in its grip. It is a terrible thing to witness. And when you are there, well, all the warm glad things which make us human just don’t matter anymore.
I hoped only to bring a little brightness into a stranger’s life, but our friendship became more than merely that. We depended on each other. He found my jokes funny. I found his poetry exquisite. He was fascinated by the mundane details of my life outside. I was devastated by the deprivation of his confinement.
Of course, he didn’t do it. You know, the things he was convicted of. He is just a flawed human being who took the wrong road. A childhood of abuse can do that to a person. No one but me, it seems, cares.
But twenty years of quashed appeals and pacing a 6ft by 8ft cell for the large part of each day can drive anyone a little crazy.
I watch the poison take a hold of his body, rolling his eyes back into his head, teeth gnawing till his lips bleed, spasms racking his muscles till it seems his bones must snap. Then he slumps.
But I am dry eyed, as I gather my coat and bag and leave. I have no time for grief. I have his memory to honour, and his legacy to fulfil.