There are days when passing time in prison becomes nearly unbearable. Each second passes with excruciating slowness. As time ticks by, it almost can be heard like a slow faucet leak. Drip, drip, drip… No task you attempt takes long enough. The gaps of emptiness begin to fuel the restlessness inside.
The skin on your body feels heavy and there is a desire to shed it like a winter’s coat. The sounds all around feel amplified with the constant drip, drip of the seconds going by. The TV, off in some corner, the yelling, crying, talking and singing merge to a roar like an urban street scene. It takes concentration to decipher the words spoken. It seems to struggle to recognize human speech above the noise.
To escape through reading is the only lifeline. “Nothing is real” becomes a mantra. Escape into the words and float to worlds far away. Don’t remember here! Don’t remember family! Don’t remember time! Don’t try to make sense of the senseless! Just close the mind and focus on the words.
Become another. Walk through the stone in Scotland, go on a Wizard’s Quest, defend the world with the chosen! Join the royal Tudor Court to uncover the plot, sail the seas, or outwit Octavian with Cleopatra. These stories get me through the days when the air is too thick or thin and the walls close in around me. The excitement of the story slows my heartbeat and distracts my mind to focus.
Endless paths slow time. There is no light, no date that is binding, no end to be seen. All I can do is the best I can to get past today. Tomorrow I may be strong enough to face the real world and attend to real world tasks. Today I’m not, so I’ll hide in my books and gather strength to survive what tomorrow might bring.
Dorothy Maraglino is serving time in California for 1st degree murder.