I glared at the glass, sitting uncomfortably in a chair without a back, a simple swivel stool except without the movement. The reflection of the glass taunted me, reminding me that light existed outside of the prison, but it existed inside as well. I clapped my hands together and wiggled them in between my knees angrily. My knees bobbed up and down anxiously as I stared down the different cubicles set up and separated by a sheet of glass. We were all lined up like drones in an assembly line, waiting for our visit to begin.
“I notice you have a lot of pent-up hatred for your father, Devin.”
I stared incredulously at Dr. Haven and nearly launched out of the chair to slam my hands into his desk for emphasis, but I controlled the compulsion and instead furrowed my brow and gritted my teeth. “Really? You think so?”
“Well, you blame him for all of these things. You blame him for the loss of your childhood, the loss of your control, the loss of your only child. You blame him, but does he truly understand what he put you through?” Dr. Haven put his hands into a steeple. “Does he know?”
“About what? I’m pretty sure breaking his eye socket shows about how much I hate him.”
“No, does he know about his child?”
I scoffed, “She was never his.”
“Yes, but biologically, he was her father. He should see the real-life consequences for his actions.”
“Confront him, and let him see what he has done.”
Confront him—two words easily said but never actually comprehended. It meant more than arguing with my father because I would be facing the monster under my bed. The whole idea involved me allowing myself to calmly communicate with a bestial demon, gnarled teeth and rabid foam visible.
I tore away the skin of my cuticles and noticed movement in my periphery. I stood up as the prisoners all waddled in an organized line as the warden kept them in their designated place and sign up. Three prisoners stood in front of my demons’ personification. I tightened my hands into fists and glared out at him.
The first prisoner past…
The second prisoner past…
The third prisoner past, but he stuttered at my cubicle. His brown eyes locked onto mine aloofly, and he rustled his brunette locks in front of me nonchalantly. Uncomfortable, I tried to peel my gaze away from the man, but he managed to keep his stare unwavering upon me. Wrinkles webbed out of the sides of his eyes, and edges carved into his skin around his lips. A scar stretched from his clavicle up to behind his ear, but his lanky exterior juxtaposed his apparently aggressive nature.
A warden tapped his shoulder, and the man’s eyes flickered back to his front. I leaned back to catch a glimpse of his visitor. There sat a woman about my mother’s age, distraught and tearful, obviously fragile. I turned back to my cubicle and wondered if my mom suffered the same damage to her conscience.
His amber, hazel eyes subtly flickered to meet mine and then fell back to the floor. He glanced at the warden, a sneer creeping across his lips, and mentioned something to the man. The warden pointed to the chair on the other side of the glass, and my father lazily fell on top of the chair. He positioned his hands on the table in a steeple, the sneer spreading into a toothy grin. A buzzer sounded, and he leaned across the table to pick up the telephone that connected the two of us to each other. I snatched my receiver and put it to my ear.
He licked his lips before stating, “They said I had a visitor, but I have to say, I wasn’t expecting you.” He began to laugh, paused for me to join in, and then just lost it. “God, you are a masochist.”
My breathing began to become shallow into short, curt breaths.
He paused, his eyes falling down my image like I was his again, like he could have me again. His eyes locked on mine again, “How’s pregnancy treating you?”
A flood of emotions nearly tore me off the chair as my fists tautened and tautened, drawing blood from my palms. I bit my lip as I blinked away the tears and expected some sort of upheaval to rise from the depths of my chest, I expected some rebellious outburst, but I was astounded. “I already had her.”
“Oh, so… What’s her name? I’m excited since this is my first grandbaby, you know?”
“Bullshit,” I hissed.
“That’s a pretty screwed up name…”
“You don’t give a crap about what happens to her. You didn’t care one freaking bit.”
“Devin, don’t bring our business into this.”
“What?” I choked.
“Come on, she’s had nothing to do with us. We have had our ups and downs, Dev, but you can’t bring a newborn into things like this. Maybe if you were more experienced and waited to have children, you would have known that.”
I hung up the phone for a moment. A smug smile came across my father’s face. I quickly came back on the line and whispered, “That’s not fair.” She had everything to do with us.
He hung up.
I slammed the phone on the receiver and stared venomously at him through the glaring glass, lost in my fury. All I could think was, She was yours. She was yours, but I didn’t know how to say it.
He turned around to his warden and motioned to leave, and my heart sank. I couldn’t brave another visit to the prison, and I swore failure could not be the outcome. I needed for him to know. He should know.
“Wait,” I mumbled.
The warden leaned over and placed handcuffs on my dad easily, and the both of them stood up slowly as if my father’s joints ached. I stood up quickly and managed, “Wait.” The man escorted the orange jumpsuit two steps before I slammed my hands on the glass. Startled, both of the men jumped. They erratically turned to me as security on my side of the barrier ran to my cubicle hesitantly. “Please!” I whimpered.
My father leaned toward the glass and emphasized his ear, and he then turned back to me and let out a hearty laugh I could barely hear on my side. He yelped, “Can’t hear you! Can’t hear your promiscuous mouth, slut!”
I punched the glass, aiming at my father’s face, but the glass rebounded easily. Jude’s eyes widened as he expected my fist to penetrate the glass. The security grabbed my arms and tried to pull me back, but I whimpered, “Please! Just get him on the phone… I need to talk to him, please!” One security guard looked at the other, and they positioned me back on my stool.
“Careful, you might end up in here with me.”
I turned back to my father, and the phone pinned to his ear. “I’m listening.”
I picked up the telephone and mirrored his position, my eyes nailed into his through the glass. “My psychiatrist told me to do this.”
“Oh, they’ve got you going to a crazy doctor, too. About time.”
His derogatory comments still bit at me and nibbled at my heart. I murmured, “I need to tell you something important about my daughter.”
“I heard she died.”
My heart stopped in my chest, and I almost dropped the receiver out of my clammy hand.
“Was it all that drinking you did? Did you pop too many prescription pills for those seizures? What was it?”
My breathing halted.
“I need alcohol, I need alcohol,” I murmured to myself one midnight after I returned from the hospital. I pulled myself from the guest bedroom and slithered down the stairs to the kitchen. I tore through the cabinets in search of the liquor, of the deep, dark liquor that could help me remove those memories. Nothing could be found. All they had was white wine, but they had bottles upon bottles. I smiled as I realized Ned neglected to tell his parents about my so-called drinking problem. I popped open a bottle and managed to down two and a half bottles before throwing up in the sink. I lurched forward as I expelled the waste, and then I began to just sob because I could.
“Ned must be mortified.”
My brow furrowed in horror as I remembered the countless nights I would drink myself into a deep slumber and recalled the many pills I took to control my seizures. I killed her. I killed my baby girl. My eyes wandered across the desktop in complete shock as I realized I couldn’t blame Jude for this. It was me. I killed her.
First month of pregnancy…
I shook it away. I couldn’t let him disintegrate all of the thoughts dancing in my head. He couldn’t destroy everything I knew and heard. I turned back to him and growled, “Shut up.”
He narrowed his eyes. “You wanted to talk.”
I pulled out a photo Edgar took on her birthday and pasted it against the glass. “She died six hours and forty-one minutes after she was born.”
Jude leaned toward the glass, and I noticed how his eyes shivered as he absorbed the picture. He sat back and scoffed, “God, what a little thing.”
I put the photo back into my pocket to his dismay.
“I wasn’t done looking.”
“Yeah, neither was I.” I turned back to him and cradled my chin on my palm, staring at his angular features and his rugged edges. I finally whispered, “She wasn’t Ned’s.” I choked back vomit as the words fell from of my lips.
He laughed, “Holy shit, who else did you sleep with? I knew you were trash, but this is a new level for you, Dev.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Dev, I can’t believe you slept with that many guys in such a small period. Whose kid was it—I’ve got to know. The Smiths? The Blackmons? Oh my God, you whore.”
I stood up and finally just exploded, “You! You fucked me! She and I shared nine alleles—she was yours, Dad! She was yours! Congrats, you had a daughter!”
He vacantly stared up at me with those menacing eyes that were beginning to lose their malice. His eyes flickered to my left toward the first few cubicles and motioned for me to lower my voice.
“No! No! You listen to me! How dare you?! How dare you do this to me for so many years? How dare you kill both my children, and how dare you think I owe you anything?”
“Devin, please, quiet down.”
“No! Did you tell your little buddies why you’re really in here? How you didn’t just rape a woman—you raped and beat your own daughter since she could remember? How do they feel knowing you fucked me so hard? How did you like me then? I wasn’t the kid you hated because I sent you to jail for fraud. I was the girl you so desperately wanted but couldn’t have in prison because I’m your comfort. Your motherfucking comfort!”
“Devin! Stop!” The warden turned the corner to our cubicle and asked him something, whispering in his ear before moving on to the next cubicle. He turned back to me and mentioned, “Look, I don’t have anything to say to you.”
“You have to be kidding me.”
He locked eyes with me with those wild, frantic eyes that were losing their sanity as I finally peeled away his façade he created to survive. “I was wrong. Happy?”
I slammed my hand against the tabletop and roared, “No! Not remotely!”
He leaned forward and cuffed his hand around the receiver. “You want to know why I had to have you? You want to know why?”
Silence. I furrowed my brow and contemplated hanging up before he could give me some dirty response that would further haunt me into the years. “No.”
“I had sex with you because you begged for it. You begged for it with those curious, alluring eyes, and you begged for it the way you always wanted to please me. This was your fault,” he hissed into the phone before slamming it onto the receiver.
Over the intercom, a voice broke, “Visiting hours have now concluded for today. Prisoners, please report to the proper stations.”
In unison, the chairs scraped behind the glass, and I watched my father descend down the hallway. The third prisoner who entered the visiting area hesitated once again at my station, staring intently at me with his dark, hollow eyes. He snatched the phone from his side and motioned for me to pick up my end. I timidly obeyed, pulling the phone to my ear.
I gulped as I whispered, “Hello?”
“I’m sorry,” he breathed, “I’ll see if I can fix it.” Then he aggressively slammed the phone down onto the tabletop. He returned to the line without missing a beat and marched on to the other parts of the prison with them. I bleakly stared after him and wondered what he meant.