My mom can’t come pick me up fast enough. I wait on the stairs, checking the time on my phone every few minutes. I’ve been standing here for ten minutes. Cole started to wait with me, but I told him to go on home. He asked if I was going straight home and that maybe he could just follow us there, but I lied and said I’m tired and was gonna go straight to bed. He nodded and kissed my cheek. I watch his blue Sedan drive away, swallowed up by the forest.
I run up to the car as soon as I see my mom pull up.
“Slow down, the car hasn’t even stopped!” she cries as I get in. “What’s the matter?”
“Oh, nothing. Can you take me into the city? I’m supposed to meet Cole,” I lie.
“Oh? Why didn’t you two go out there together?” she asks, driving away from the school. I watch through the side view mirrors as the massive building shrinks as we get farther and farther away from it. In just a year I’ll be driving away for good.
“He had to go home first to get something.”
I’m amazed at how easy it is to lie to my mother. I feel totally bad about it.
I wait for my mom to leave before I head in the opposite direction of where I told her I’d be. She gave me money, thinking I’m gonna go shopping. I stuff the fifty into my pocket to save for another day.
The county jail is large in sight and nothing like they show in the movies. There’s no wire fencing with the electric coils bearing their teeth, waiting to prick anyone who tries to escape. It looks like any normal building, almost like a community school. Maybe that’s what it was before it was a prison.
I approach the desk when I enter and ask where I go to visit the inmates. I’ve never thought I’d be at a jail visiting someone. There’s a first for everything.
The woman at the desk points down the hall, telling me that I need to speak to a security guard down there so they could fetch whoever it is I want to see.
I speak to the guard, a big black guy, the cliché looking cop that eats donuts all the time. I’m not surprised when I see a box from Dunkin Donuts sitting on the floor. The thought makes me smile.
“I’m here to see, ah, Christian. Christian Bay.”
“Alright, give me one moment. Come sit at one of the telephone booths while I get him for you.” He gives me a smile and leads me to the booth. I’m so completely nervous, my hands shake. I place them in my lap as I wait. The telephone booth smells like sweat, painted grey and orange. There’s a buzzing sound that goes off and I can see the gate open, the security guard leading Christian to where I’m sitting. My heart lurches at the sight of him. There’s now a tattoo of a snake on the side of his neck, freshly done. He holds an unlit cigarette between his fingers and his hair is disheveled.
When he sees me I stand. He stops for a moment and rolls his eyes, then heads back towards the cells. My heart flutters and I start to panic.
“Wait! Christian!” I follow him as far as I can but the booths only go so far. I reach the last one and pound on the plexiglass with my fist. “Christian!”
He turns to me, his eyes full of hate. His lips move but I can’t hear anything he says. I pick up the phone and point to the one on his side. Please, I mouth.
He rolls his eyes again and picks the phone up, sitting on the grey desk. “What do you want?”
“To see you,” I stammer. “Why else would I be here?”
“Where’s your prince?” he growls. He scratches his head and stops looking at me.
I sigh. “Christian, what are you doing –”
“I’m fine. I told you to stop caring about me. I don’t need you or anyone else to take care of me.” He starts to put the phone back down but I shake my head frantically and pound on the glass. He flinches and says, “Don’t do that. It makes my head hurt.”
I sit down in the chair. “Talk to me, Christian,” I plead.
He stands still for a moment, looking between me and the phone. I’m so desperate, I wonder if he can feel my heart beat rattle the glass. It feels like it is, like it’s going to shatter at any moment.
Christian finally sighs and sits down, holding the phone loosely to his ear. “What’s up, Princess?”
After a half-hour the security guard taps Christian on the shoulder. It’s time for him to go. Christian nods. I’ve never seen him so calm. I keep waiting for him to throw a fist at the guy for touching him, but he doesn’t seem to need to.
“Can I come see you tomorrow?” I blurt out before he has to hang up.
“Why?” he asks, raising an eyebrow. He’s abandoned the cigarette he had, not noticing that it rolled onto the floor a while ago.
“I would just think that it gets lonely here…”
“Okay,” he says, his voice soft, amused. “Tomorrow, then?”
“And every day until you get out.”
He smiles and places the phone back in its holder gracefully and getting up to leave. I watch as he’s escorted back to his cell. He turns back to look at me and give a little wave.