The Bars That Hold Us

The Bars That Hold Us by Shelly Pratt

Book: The Bars That Hold Us by Shelly Pratt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shelly Pratt
in front of me. The food on it looks like something my dog ate and threw up —that is if I had a dog, of course. I look at him questioningly, hoping he can shed some light on what I’m about to ingest.
    ‘Meatloaf, mash, vegetables and rice pudding,’ he grins.
    ‘Settle down, Chief. You almost look happy.’
    ‘It beats going hungry.’
    ‘You don’t look like you’re starving,’ I say, looking pointedly at his stomach. He rubs it and smiles.
    ‘It’s winter. I’m storing.’
    He leaves me alone while I sift my way through the slop on my plate. I only barely manage to eat half of it, not nearly as keen as he is to eat the unidentifiable mess.
    I thought today would be fun. It’s a horrible thing to be so reliant on another’s company, because when it’s taken away, you feel nothing but misery. I wanted to see her, because she’s the only light in an otherwise dark day. I needed to see her, because she ignites such passion in me that I can’t control. There is reciprocation, I know it, yet I still can’t help wondering why she is doing this —why she’s distancing herself from me. More like, I just don’t want to confront the reality of her choices.
    I don’t want her running scared because it reaffirms every single self-depreciating thought I have. Mo st would believe I’m not worthy but, for just a moment in time, she thought I was. She was interested in me; she wanted to kiss me just as much as I wanted to kiss her. Without even realizing it, I bang my fist on the table.
    ‘Oi! Knock that off,’ grumbles Vic, as though it ’s too late in the day to deal with me if I’m about to go off the rails.
    I am sorry. Sorry that Mercy doesn’t want anything to do with me.
    Vic’s radio chatter is enough to end the five-star lunch we’re having.
    ‘That’s us done. I’ve got to get you back to lock-up so I can help with parole hearings in D block.’ He offers no apology, but by now I don’t give a shit anyway. I’m done with the dog food and I think I can wait until dinner to be disappointed all over again.
    We make our way back to my cell . The halls are eerily quiet with the absence of inmates. I may have missed rec time, but I don’t think that would be the place for a confrontation with Mercy. Somehow I get the feeling that I wouldn’t have been able to resist had she been standing within meters of me.
    Locked up and nothing to do, I feel now is a good time to make a kite. No, not the play-thing , it’s a note. I don’t want her to think I’m begging, but… yeah, okay, I’m begging her to come back and watch me because it’s the only thing that makes me feel even remotely like my old self again.
    I need to tell her exactly how I feel without scaring her away for good.
    Dear Mercy,
    I missed you today. It’s because of me, I know. You can pretend all you like —that you’re sick or whatever, but we both know the truth, even if you aren’t willing to admit it to yourself.
    I’m going to make this easy on you. We can go back to how we were – you my guard, me your prisoner. If that’s what you want? We can pretend it never happened and I promise I’ll never touch you in that way again. Or even look at you, unless you ask me to.
    But I need to confess to you that I’m miserable without you. I know that sounds pathetic but , in an otherwise bleak and mundane existence, you’re the sunshine amongst the cloudy storm. You make five hours seem like five minutes. Please don’t take that away from me when all I have is time.
    I know things are complicated —for both of us. If there’s one thing I can say to reassure you, it’s that you have the upper hand here. It’s weak, but it’s all I have to offer you when I’ve nothing else to give.
    I could say that there is nothing I want more than to rewind a few days and take it all back. I’d be lying. Maybe you just need a friend…
    Can you forgive me if I’ve overstepped the mark?
    The last thing I want

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