Black grease, that stained my hands and streaked my grey overalls. My new job at the garage was working on motor vehicles. That was one of my parole conditions, gain employment. How ironic, it was cars that got me in prison and its cars that’s helping me survive out of it. Seemed like hard labor was all I was good for.
The hours at the garage were long, and Jose, my boss let us off early today. I was grateful for the break, exhaustion took hold of me. I walked through the corridors of the noisy half-way house. I moved here two months ago, a place where former prisoners are rehabilitated, or so I was told, most of them shouldn’t have left prison.
I made my way through ex-convicts loitering around, come to think of it, I’m an ex-convict too now. I groaned at the thought. I’ll be stuck with a criminal record for the rest of life from now on.
Is that all people will see when they look at me? An ex-prisoner with a fucked-up future.
The half-way house reminded me of prison. The hell hole I never want to go back to. But I was grateful, at least I could enjoy privilege of relative freedom in return for abiding by certain conditions. I had limited time to live here, until I found my own place to serve out my parole. Exactly seven days to vacate.
Life after lockup looked to be challenging.
I’m on parole for the next eighteen months and can’t leave Ashfield and its surroundings, unless I ask permission from my parole officer.
I chose to stay in Ashfield, I didn’t think of anywhere else. I didn’t want to go back to my city. I knew Lillie lived here, and that was reason enough, so it seemed like the obvious choice. If she didn’t want to avoid me that is.
I written to her twice, biding my time and careful not to rush her into anything. The last thing I wanted is to scare the shit out of her. But it’s been two months already, and now seemed like a good time. I wanted my approach to be subtle, but I wasn’t sure if it was working. I hoped she’ll consider talking to me, I was prepared to wait for Lillie, if there’s one thing prison taught me is that I could be patient.
I walked past the upstairs bathroom and into my small room down the hall. It was a much better space than my old cell. It had a bed near a large window, a small wooden table and an old T.V. It wasn’t much, but it was mine and I could come and go as I pleased, considering the circumstances. I was grateful.
It was strange being in the outside world. I’ve been seven years locked away, you forget about the basics of life, since everything was given to you in prison. I needed somebody to help me navigate again until I could fully stand on my feet. I had no family, no nothing that I really cared about.
Except for Lillie, I needed her now.
I wasn’t sure if she would agree to help me, but I had to try and speak to her face to face. I was desperate to see the woman that helped me get through the last leg of prison. I was confident with her help; I could learn the skills to integrate back into society again.
I threw my bag from my shoulder onto the bed and took off the greasy overalls. I was standing in nothing but my boxers as I looked through the window. It was my favourite spot in the room. It showed a part of the bustling town. The tall buildings, the shops and stores, the street filled with cars and people going about their business. The sun was hidden by clouds, making the sky look grey and overcast, shadowing the street below.
I grabbed a towel and shower gel and walked to the bathroom two doors from my room. The bathroom was at least clean and private, a breath of fresh air from the prison showers. I turned on the tap and stood underneath the faucet, I moaned at the warm water flowing over the top of my head. Having hot water like this when I wanted was a fucking dream come true. I took the soap and began to wash the grease off me.
After I was done showering, I stepped out and wrapped a towel around my waist. I walked down to my room, water still dripping from my body, as my bare feet touched the cool concrete floors.
Something caught my attention. I stopped and sniffed the air, a faint smell of perfume lingered in it.
A smell I knew very very well.
The smell of her… Lillie.