Decree of Hope

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It had been forever since I’d hung up the phone with Abe. I was getting tired but a fat black woman with lots of braids guarded the set of bunks to my left, and a tiny, skanky white woman with a hole in her nose guarded the other set. The skinny chick I could probably take. I’d given those guys at the pool hall hell. Unless Simone had her back. Then I was screwed. Either way, I was in the slammer. I had to toughen up.

I stood up and took a step to my right. “Top or bottom?”

Tina put her hand over her chest and gasped. “Is the princess speaking to me?”

Princess. In my group, that was usually a compliment, but it had been thrown at me like a derogatory term once or twice. In here, we all wore the same jailbird stripes. I had no idea why she would say that. “My stripes are as faded as yours.”

“How much did you pay for those press-ons? And that shaggy hair cut? What you in here for? Turnin’ tricks?”

I gasped. No one talked about my hair like that. It was always perfect. I put plenty of energy into making certain of it. “My hair is not shaggy, and my nails do not press on. Top or bottom?”

“What does that even mean?” Tina asked.

“Princess pays for gel nails is what it means,” Simone said.

“Would you like the top or bottom bunk?” I asked. It was a French manicure, not gel, but I didn’t add that.

She spat at me. Not only was it disgusting, but after hearing the stories these women exchanged earlier, it was way worse than wearing used flip-flops. I jumped back almost into Simone.

“Whoa, bitch!” Simone screamed. “Watch where you walkin’.”

I sighed but didn’t say anything. Simone spun around me. “You hear me, bitch?”

She moved closer to my face, but I saw Butch in the hallway. “Ma’am? Umm … Miss Guard?”

She walked past me like she didn’t hear me.


Both Simone and Tina laughed.

I scurried between them and grabbed the iron bars. I shook them as hard as I could, singing Mararitaville as loudly as possible.

“Blondie, why do you need attention?” Butch asked.

“Solitary confinement?”


“That’s what it’s called, right?”

Butch laughed at me. “What what’s called?”

“When you put me in a room by myself.”

“You want to go to solitary?”



I let my eyes dart to each of my roomies, but I didn’t dare say anything in case she left me here. This was Butch, not Jill. I could see her doing it.

“You won’t like it. Solitary is a punishment.”

“I’m a bad girl,” I said. That sounded way worse than I meant it.

“You haven’t done anything for me to put you in solitary. I’d only put you in solitary if you were violent or suicidal.”

“I am.”
“You don’t look it.”

I pulled my striped shirt off and tied it around my neck pulling on both ends.

Tina cackled.

“Blondie be crazy,” Simone screamed, clapping her hands together.

“Told ya she was a princess. How much you think that pretty little bra cost?”

I smiled at Butch as she sighed and unlocked the door. “Put your shirt back on.”

“Thank you.” I unraveled the shirt around my neck and slid it back over my head.

Butch led me down the hall and opened the tiniest closet I’d ever seen. She shook her head. “You really shouldn’t have done that. I told you that you weren’t going to like this.”

“At least I’m safe this way.”

“The bucket is to piss in,” she said, pointing to the corner of the room.

“There is no bed?”

She shook her head.

“They wouldn’t give me a bunk.”
“Should have stuck it out.”

I sat down in the dark closet and prayed I could sleep sitting up. I’d die before my face touched this floor. All I had to do was wait it out. I’d get out of here eventually. My daddy would come, or Abe would. Abrahem wouldn’t let me down. I knew that.

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