Day 1 : The Gawk
“Aye Gawk…” the girl nodded her head at me from across the room. She sat like a dude, back slouched, knees spread and rough, dark elbows resting on them. But her posture wasn’t what made me think twice about approaching her. It was her eyes. They were brown like root beer and dark bags laid under her eyes like someone yanked her eyelids so hard they just turned black.
Against my better judgement, I swallowed hard and went and sat next to her, avoiding her eyes.
“What’s your name?” the girl said, catching me off guard.
“Jaclyn.” I said, not looking up from my hands.
I heard her chuckle. What the heck did that mean? I mean, I had only been at Locke’s Juvenile Detention Center for a half hour and was already making friends with a criminal.
“What’re you in for, Gawk?” She asked, not giving her own name.
I sighed, trying to push that thought away.
“Stealing a dog from an adoption agency…” I said quietly, looking up at her.
The girl went wild with laughter, her hands wrapping around herself. After her laughter had passed, she patted me on the back and smiled.
“Not bad, Gawk. Not bad at all…” She said, brushing the side of the knee of her pants.
“Why do you keep calling me that?” I asked without thinking. “You just asked me what my name was.”
The girl laughed some more.
“Because you’re the Gawk. The greenie. The new kid.” She said and grinned like that made sense any to me.
“Lemme guess, you hate it here.”
I looked away and nodded.
“Well Jaclyn, these next 8 weeks are going to feel like years if you keep that mindset. While you’re here, the guards’ll tell you you’re trash. But lemme tell you, here you build a story. And your story here will be nothing but shitty if you don’t learn the lay of the land.”
I nodded, thinking about the word.
“Look around, Jaclyn. This place is full of stories. You just have to know how to find them.”
I gave the room another look. All the girls were at least 13 years old and were wearing their orange jumpsuit pants and tank tops. They were playing cards and rolling dice and goofing around like...like regular teenagers. Some of them were black, others Hispanic and white but they were all so young.
“So what’s yours?” I asked the girl.
“My name is Piper and I don’t sleep.”And with that, I was sitting alone.