“I’ve been contacted by my lawyer telling me we’ve got a case,” I say, and her eyes widen in surprise. “I don’t know how you’ve done it, but they’re reviewing all the notes from the trial and I’m waiting to hear what happens next.”
“Does this mean you could get out sooner?” There’s too much hope in her voice and I don’t want to break it.
“I don’t know.” I answer honestly because it could go either way. If they find fault in the documents, then I could get a mistrial and go free really fucking soon. But if they don’t it’s at least another year before I’m up for parole. There wasn’t the urgency before that there is now, and I’ve got her to thank for that.
“I’ll keep calling, I’ll keep emailing. Whatever it takes to get you free.”
“You’ve already done the hard part. That was getting someone to listen.” She looks shy when I praise her and part of me loves it.
“I can be persistent.”
“I’ve noticed,” I say, and I feel myself smiling for the first time in a long time.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she says, and she sounds breathy as she stares at my mouth.
“With that smile. It’s going to make it impossible for me to leave you here.” She glances around and already we’re closing in on our time.
“I need to tell you something but I don’t want to hurt you,” I say, and her eyes come back to mine.
“Okay,” she says, steeling herself.
“I don’t want you to come see me again.” I can’t help myself and I reach for her hands. I hold them in mine and they’re so soft and warm. “You can’t be in this place. Not for me, not for anything.”
“Promise me,” I say, cutting her off. “Promise me you won’t visit me again.”
“Hands!” I hear the guard behind me shout and I let her go. I don’t have much time but I don’t want it cut short.
“Promise me, Lizzy. Promise me you’ll keep yourself safe and you’ll stay as far away from here as you can.”
“And if you get out?” Her big blue eyes look up at me and I nod.
“I’m coming for you. But until then, write to me every day. It’s the only thing getting me through this.”
Her eyes water and she gives me a soft smile as she nods. It’s all I can give her for now, but maybe it will be enough.
“Time’s up,” the guard says and we stand.
This time I’m the one to pull her into me and for a moment the prison walls fall away and there are no bars. We’re alone and I’m holding her and it’s all I’ve ever wanted.
“Time to go, Lang,” the guard says, and it takes everything in me to let her go.
She stands there as I take a step back and he puts the shackles on me. I don’t want her to see this and to witness my shame, but my need to keep my eyes on her wins out.
“Be safe,” I say again, and she nods as she touches her fingers to her lips, then blows her kiss to me.
It might seem silly, but right now I can’t touch her and it’s all that I have. I close my eyes and I swear I can feel it hit me as the guard grabs my arms and pulls me away from the woman I’m so desperate to have.
It’s later in the evening when I’m in the shower that I feel someone watching me. I’m on a block with about fifty guys so we have to shower in shifts. I glance over my shoulder and see someone I haven’t seen before and guess he’s a new inmate. I don’t know why he’s got his eyes on me but it doesn't feel right.
I shut off the water to my shower and go over to the wall and grab my towel. I wrap it around my waist as I try to keep him in the corner of my eye. I glance to where the officers are usually stationed at the opening of the shower, but they’re gone. Immediately the hair on the back of my neck rises and I turn around just in time to see the new guy coming at me, holding something metal and sharp.
It’s only half a second but it’s just enough time for me to spin around and grab his wrist to keep him from stabbing me with it. I hear his arm snap as I bend it backwards and he screams as he lets go of the makeshift knife. It clatters to the ground and the other inmates scatter as suddenly the guards appear and come rushing in.
The guards grab me and pull me back and I don’t fight them. The guy lies on the ground moaning about his arm and mumbling some other shit I don’t understand. By the time I’m carried out of the shower and thrown into solitary I realize that this was all just a setup.