The Bars That Hold Us

The Bars That Hold Us by Shelly Pratt Page B

Book: The Bars That Hold Us by Shelly Pratt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shelly Pratt
you’re talking.’ He clicks his tongue and sounds excited, the mop moving faster with this news. I’m not about to tell him I’m stealing it from the library, so long as I deliver, that’s all that matters.
    ‘Is it a nice brew?’
    ‘Of course; as good as you’re going to get in here old timer. So, what do you say?’
    ‘Depends… anything else you can bring to the table?’
    I look around my cell. There isn’t much I can offer him, certainly nothing he doesn’ t already possess or can easily obtain from others willing to trade favors.
    ‘What about a hundred dollars put into your prison kitty?’
    He smiles widely at me now, not caring who sees.
    ‘You got somebody who could do that for you?’
    ‘Yeah, I do. He comes in on a Tuesday, so he could do it then.’
    ‘Mister, you’ve got yourself a deal. But I still get the coffee, right?’
    ‘And the chow?’
    His han d darts out suddenly, unexpectedly. I place the kite in it, trusting. Before I can blink, it has disappeared somewhere on his person. That is our transaction sealed. I watch as he disappears out of F block, whistling as the mop removes the grime that coats this place.


    It sits on the coffee table—taunting me. I want to refuse it, ignore it, pretend that it doesn’t even exist. But how can I when it is so glaringly, obviously real ? The small, neatly folded paper is a stark contrast to my dark surroundings. It sticks out like a sore thumb. While I sit amongst dark wood and fabrics in the dim light of the evening, I’m seduced into wanting to touch it.
    The inmate who thrust it into my palm scared the living shit out of me when he palmed it as he brushed by. His sour, dank breath instructed me not to react which , I might add, was next to impossible when his invasive presence was so near to the perimeter of my personal boundaries. He invaded that space, pushing me to places I don’t want to go. He made me have a physical reaction – the kind where your skin pebbles from the chill that runs down your spine and the hair on your arms stands on end. If his eyes hadn’t been so… sane , I would have reacted in a completely different manner.
    I see now, he didn’t want to hurt me. He was just the middle guy. I lean forward, elbows on knees, my work jacket puffing up around my stomach. I’m yet to undress—to even kick my boots off yet. All of my focus is on this nicely folded piece of paper that torments me, willing me to devour its contents.
    The only problem is, I suspect who it’s from, and that lends itself to a whole new dimension of worry and heart-gripping guilt. I told myself I don’t want to feel anymore and yet this little bit of paper makes me do just that. It entices me to reach for it slowly, almost scared to commit. If I go through with it, I’m only entertaining an unexplainable connection with someone who I can’t, or shouldn’t, under any circumstances, get involved with.
    Saxon Miles . The fact that I’m on a first-name basis with him in my head doesn’t go unnoticed—it only adds fuel to the fire.
    As though my body has different ideas to my head, my fingertips reach out, extending towards the intrusive bit of paper. It seems as though I care none for my wishes to stay out of trouble—to stay sad and in the grips of grief that my lost lover has cocooned me with. I’m intrigued, and I dare not say hungry . It’s not a hunger driven by food. Instead, it’s an insatiable want for the forbidden. His hands, his lips… my body starts to feel feverish just thinking about it.
    I almost pick it up. A knock at the door startles me to my senses and I withdraw from the note as though bitten by something venomous.
    ‘Mercy? Honey, are you in there?’
    My dad’s comforting voice reaches me through the front door. I’ve completely forgotten we are going to grab a bite to eat. It’s become our Friday night ritual since I started work at the prison. It gives him a chance to talk about his

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