Write A Prisoner [PREVIEW]

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4. Airmail Letters

It takes about fifteen days later for the response letter to arrive at her door, which is today; Monday, the 1st August 2016.

The front envelope is marked with an airmail stamp, and surely, making it looks like a businesslike property, as if she receives it from the government rather than an individual person.

From this point, the feeling of fear suddenly gnaws her beating heart. Messie scares for whatever it is inside this white envelope. She is excited, but also nervous, wondering how this person names J. Mark would replay to her simple letter. Anything could be possible, especially when she receives it from a prison inmate.

The fancy old handwriting emblazons this HVS paper of A4 size that feels thick in her touch. Messie has a lot to say when it comes to someone’s handwriting style, and she practically thinks she can judge it like a book cover. Her first assumption tells her that he can’t be really born in 1989 with that sort of old style vibe he has. He can be someone in his forties, or maybe fifties. She keeps assuming there’s a chance the prison gives her false information to keep this inmate profile private and secretive, for the sake God knows what. Especially, remembering she can’t know how his face looks like.

Then, she shifts her keen stare toward the content, which says:

Dear friend,

Thank you for your interest in me, Miss Denver.

Much appreciated though, if you can also bring me a glass of wine when you want to show me the outside world. It will represent the taste of paradise, and diminishes the hell of where I am now.

But you know how sarcastic your introduction sounds to me?

How brave of you, that it feels so uncomfortable for such a stranger.

They told me I was gonna get one of this “Letter”. And they’re right—those police. For two years since I was first thrown in jail, they forced me to open my heart to the possibility of connecting through this Penpal program, (that sorry to say; not much that I care).

Honestly, you’re not the first sender. I got some last year, but dude, most of them bored me to death. But do you know what makes you different? I can sense this must be your first time writing to someone, and if I may add to your list, Miss Denver, how could you possibly able to live in New York with the way you structure your words?

Well, now, I’m looking forward to hear your next story of living there. Must be amazing to breathe the air in the beautiful city.

Best regards,

J. Mark.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Ottawa County Jail, Michigan

That’s all he has to say. It seems likely he may be the type of passive aggressive kind of person, if judging by the way he responds to her first letter. And Messie’s first instinct is nearly accurate that he even speaks like an old man in the letter. She surely can judge a person by the look of his handwriting style.

“He surely sounds sarcastic himself,” Messie mutters peevishly while folding the letter with anger, but as she returns it into the envelope, a flash of thought suddenly comes into her mind.

Surely, this exchanging letter program doesn’t have a nice impression at first, but the longer Messie sees the envelope, her heart is beating faster, because she just realizes this new thing can be very challenging.

And the needs of adrenaline rush she can’t bear, more than buying any designer clothes, or even resisting herself from getting a discount price of Parisian cashmere coat that is sold in a thrift shop.

This whole thing can be priceless. Therefore, she accepts his response letter as a challenge. There’s nothing more fun than waiting for the irresistible and yet mysterious prison inmate in writing back to her, rather than seeing the bills occupying her front door every month.

That’s it, she’s finally getting the idea that able to distract herself from meeting a creditor or even a repo man, which much scarier in her opinion.

The following day, she already prepares to write her letter again. She sits restlessly at her study desk while looking out through the window. The view of neighborhood street and the sunny afternoon, however, still can’t trigger the idea of what she should write in her second letter.

She hasn’t eaten since this morning, which that’s why her head feels a bit dizzy. She loses energy to write in a creative manner. As if everything feels too damn boring in her eyes. She just doesn’t know what to do—or what to write precisely.

She even returns from office early than usual today. Yes, because her mind is truly occupied by his response letter.

It doesn’t take her so long to grab that envelope, and she’s reading his letter again. One thing she learns from him is that he writes like a poet, or surely like an old man. She can’t distinguish whether his words feel mature, or he just supposed to sound romantic. His words feel poetic, and dancing in her ears, if that makes sense.

She’d like to imagine how he looks like in person. Sometimes she daydreams about his appearance, which may be and may be not; he looks like the combination between a business executive and a psycho serial killer. But whatever he looks like, never crosses her mind that he may be good looking. She still believes that he is an old man, and maybe he has a fat belly.

During all the confusion she has, there’s suddenly a feeling flashes on her mind, reminding her how she would talk to her clients on TalkPeers. Those hours she has spent listening to everyone’s problem may feel boring sometimes, but there is a pro and con in everything.

Just like this one, Messie knows what she’s dealing with;a prison inmate. She’s well aware that she’s not a psychologist specialist, but there can be a better understanding to talk with him. This is not about taking the opportunity to improve her social skill, but since he mentions aboutthe structureof her words. Messie, literally, takes it to her heart. She gets annoyed that his words are not only cynical, but mockery.

She won’t be sulky all day long just because someone told her how bad she is with words. So, without a second thought, she eagerly takes the paper and pen, then starts writing promptly:

Dear J. Mark, (if that’s how you want to be called)

I can’t wait to tell you about everyone’s life in New York City. But firstly, I am, by any means don’t care either about someone’s grammatical etiquette. Thank you for your incredible attention to this. (Don’t worry, it’s not such a big deal!).

My life is not entirely perfect, I mean, that’s how most people do around me in New York. They really work hard to earn money, waiting for paycheck, only to spend a few before receiving another bill. Can’t you believe that?

Life is cycling in the same rotation. Either boring or fun, that’s how most of us do in here. New York would not be an easy place if you were not a nomad. I guess, everyone knows that.

Oh, about the wine you mention before, we only drink to that in a special celebration. Because, duh, you don’t wanna get drunk and get robbed, do you?

In the end, we are all struggling too. I mean, I couldn’t imagine your life in jail, but it’s all about the fight, isn’t it?

I know, life is just complex and the turning point scares me. I was majored in Business, but now I’m ended up as an online therapist, not licensed anyway, because here we work in a small company. It’s not so much synchronized to what I had pursued.

Even though so, I love my life in New York, I want to fight to live here for as long as I can. And so, I thought I can share my life story with a total stranger. Hoping we can exchange more letters in the future, Mister J. Mark.

Wishing you good health and happiness :)

Sincerely,

Messie Denver.

Tuesday, 02 August 2016

Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York City

Once she finishes with her letter, she throws it away into her apartment’s mailbox, and then she assures herself this Penpal program can be fun. The man names J. Mark can be anyone and anything she may want to imagine.

Messie also slowly understands how this Penpal program works, because the response letter always arrives every one or two weeks later once she writes back.

Wednesday, 17th August 2016, today, the airmail she’s been waiting for has arrived. As if in such a great despair, like the need to consume a painkiller pill, she is in a hurry to open the envelope and read it raveningly.

Dear Messie Denver,

How cute to receive such a genuine letter from a stranger, and then hearing back they argue about a simple thing. I get it. You’re being emotional about me raving your way with words. I was just wondering, you know. From what I’ve heard, a lot of people in New York can juggle with words. And wow, must be amazing to live there and get a chance to work, oh, wait, as what did you say? Oh yeah, an online therapist without licensed. I don’t know you can be a therapist without studying psychology.

I used to go visiting my personal therapist too, because my mom forced me, not that I liked the idea. She said I was a messed up kid. Now that I think about it, it’s like a pill, I need it again. I think you can be my peer therapist then. Help me. Enlighten my days in jail. I know we’re only able to exchange a letter a few times in a month, but reading each other’s stories may diminishes my boredom here.

And yeah, I get it. New York can be hell too. Everyone is struggle with life. Been there, done that. And my fight in here? You have no idea. It’s like a trampoline being smash by a giant bird, and when will-o-the-wisp comes at night, I can finally sleep, but never peacefully. Most inmates pick a fight with one another, and some can really go crazy. Just hoping a miracle happens soon for me.

Truthfully, there’s not much interesting stuff going on in my life. On the contrary, seems like your life is full with surprises.

But I wonder if you’re a therapist, this is the way you talk to your client? Share me some jokes if you know. I was hoping you could be a page-turner, Miss Denver.

And I think you are.

Best regards,

J. Mark.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Ottawa County Jail, Michigan

Messie is breathless after reading his letter, which sounds more cynical then the first one. She can’t wait for another day to write back to him;

Dear Mister Sarcastic;

(sorry, I got to change how I’d like to address you, since you’re super annoying)

I don’t know what your problem is, Mister Mark. But surely, this is how I normally talk to everyone, and no one bothers, or barking at my face, and whatever other worst nightmare anyone would do.

I enjoy this Penpal Program very much. I think I’m gonna stop writing to you... thank you for the opportunity, you’ve entertained my days here; my boring and yet awesome life than yours. I just can’t take it anymore...

Yeah, and I can make sense why your mom forced you to visit a therapist... I tell you that you need to open your eyes to reality, see that most people work hard, even they are just untrained therapists, like me for instance. They still hope for a miracle to pour raining down their rooftop, to change their life for the better.

The suffering people have, sometimes come from their own mind, and therefore, I am one of them. Because your letter is just too much of a bother, that I lost my mind by now I’m writing to you.

Until then, don’t send me another airmail letter if you can’t talk like normal people do.

I wish you for the miracle of enlightenment, Mister Sarcastic.

Sincerely,

Messie Denver.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York City

Another week has passed, it’s Thursday, the first September 2016.

Messie just returns late at night from monthly shopping, bringing a paper bag full of groceries, while the other hand busies holding on to a cup of ice coffee. She is so occupied today with office work, and then spending a few dollars for her biological life is also frustrating that she almost forgot to check her mailbox.

And when she does, an airmail letter already lies there inside the mailbox. She hurries taking the letter inside and read it once she sits on her television’s couch.

This time it’s different, there’s other companion letter that written in perfect print. She also remembers this morning of receiving an official email from the Penpal site, which she hasn’t read at all.

Messie feels the nausea just by imagining the content of each mail; what complicated matters that awaits her this time. But it is not. She’s all wrong. It’s not like what she’s been imagining. Neither terror nor other cynical word that would hover to her, instead it’s an apology letter.

As she read one by one, both of the email and letter contain exactly the same words. The statement letter she’s now holding, is only the printed version of the email.

For a second, Messie wonders why they need to send it twice a time, especially when this printed letter seems obvious that the supervisor of the Penpal site feels the need to apologize on behalf of Mister J. Mark’s rude letters.

Dear Miss Messie Denver;

I am Bruce Wells, the supervisor of Write A Prisoner, the Penpal program which you are participating willingly.

Our most sincere apologize to you on behalf of our misbehaved inmate prison names Joey Dayson Mark, and for his untrained mannerism.

We try our best to deliver the facility of Penpal program, to connect our inmates here with the outside world, in a very traditional fashion.

If you wish not to continue, please ignore this letter.

If you wish for your personal data to be removed permanently from the site, you need to request a formal form by visiting our office at Ottawa County Jail in Michigan.

We thank you very much for your interest in our program.

Bruce Wells

Supervisor,

Write A Prisoner

Saturday, 25 August 2016

Ottawa County Jail, Michigan

Messie couldn’t possibly understand about this Penpal program, of how the supervisor immediately assumes that she wants to bail from the program just because she pisses off by reading an inmate’s rude letters. Subsequently, she continues on reading the next letter written personally by Mister J. Mark.

Dear Miss Messie Denver;

I am writing to you today, Miss Messie Denver, to apologize for all the words I’ve ever written in my previous letters, and all the wrongness that I did in this Penpal program (if you think I did...)

But thanks to you, I got scolded by our supervisor here in jail. You realize don’t you, that before I got to see your letter, it must pass through the supervisors here?

They READ our letters. Yes, if that makes so much sense to your mind. There’s no room for being private here, just so you know. And therefore, they force me to apologize to you for—seriously, what? My bad words? Bad mannerism? Sure.

In other word, you want me to sincerely say sorry for what I wrote? How much I want to burst to laugh, Miss Denver. Define normal, please.

I very much enjoy your joke for the idea of suffering, but look who’s talking now, that you are also Miss Sarcastic. Your overwhelming emotion in your previous letter feels so obvious that it tickles me, like lot of butterflies flying in my stomach.

Anyway, wish you all the good days in the upcoming events of your fantastic life in New York City. May you find what you’re looking for.

Best regards,

Joey Dayson Mark.

Saturday, 25 August 2016

Ottawa County Jail, Michigan

P.S: I hope you satisfy with this.

Seems likely, he never bothers to apologize since the very beginning. Messie doesn’t care either. She just gets bored and tired of this Penpal game. But thanks to the supervisor, she remembers of having once uploaded her personal data on that Penpal site. Although it is not that important, but they store her government ID, which the idea bothers her now.

She immediately calls Ottawa County Jail to manage her personal data. The supervisor himself who receives her phone call, Bruce Wells talks complicatedly about the procedure. Instead, he encourages her to continue in exchanging letters, he said; it’s important for the inmate’s psychological factor. He wants her to give it a chance, and if she wishes, she can participate in the advance event of Penpal interview, and see if she wants to talk with other participants like herself. He said it’s a good way to improve her social skill too. It’s no strange for Bruce to say that, since he already learns her profile data, he knows she works as a local peer therapist. Messie is well-aware of the fact there must besomethingif they ask for her personal data in the first place, especially if it’s her government ID. And without given much thought, she agrees anyway.

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