“You’ll get used to it,” Bob Mathews declares as the officer attaches the location tag around my ankle.
The strap clicks tight against my skin. I scratch at the surrounding area with a frown. I am only permitted to leave my house during the hours between 8 am and 8 pm. Under no circumstances am I to enter Sophia’s house, regardless of the time.
“It is only until your court hearing in a couple of weeks,” Mathews elaborates.
The device isn’t as heavy as it looks but is uncomfortable nether-the-less. A constant reminder of my impending persecution.
“Can I shower with it?” I question.
“For up to an hour. Everything else you need to know is detailed in this pamphlet.”
Mr Mathews passes me a small leaflet on all the things that I can and can’t do while out on bail. I notice the section outlining the consequences for rule-breaking.
I point my finger against the red text, “It says here that the police will be immediately notified if I do something wrong. Would that affect my bail? Or is it like three strikes and you’re out?”
The smirk on my face quickly subsides when taking in Mr Mathews’ stern glare. Blatantly, this isn’t a good time to be cracking jokes.
“Lucas, you would be straight back here, and it would not paint your character in a good light,” he insists with a serious expression, “so don’t get any ideas.”
The officers reunite me with the clothes that I arrived in and lead me to a policeman standing stoic behind a computer. He checks that I understand all the restrictions within my bail, and I say that I do, although I haven’t been given enough time to peruse the leaflet clutched in my left hand. He informs me that the consequences of such actions would result in me forfeiting my bail rights, just as Mr Mathews advised. Beggars can’t be chooses as the saying goes. Cell life ceased my night-time hobbies, so I guess I’ve had plenty of time to prepare for such a morbid existence.
As I am taken to the exit of the station, I make out my parents with arms outstretched, hellbent on taking me home. I run to them and inhale the familiar scent etched into their skin and clothes. The warm sun drenches us in natural light as we leave, arm in arm. My body aches with relief. I surrender to the feeling, practically glowing from cheek to cheek until my father intercepts the moment with a statement that stops me in my tracks.
“I spoke with Sophia,” he whispers against my ear, “and you were right about Richmond.”
I snap my head towards his face, eager to hear more.
For the whole car ride home my mind whirls with the possibilities of their discussion. I am so in my own head that all I can do is nod at my mother’s consistent statements until the car eventually comes to a stop. My thoughts momentarily shift from my father’s revelations to the prospect of walking into my house for the first time in weeks. The very building I had been craving during my time inside now stands proudly before me in all its glory. My feet shuffle inside with the same care and consideration of my night stalks. For this is a precious, delicate moment that should be savoured. I walk upstairs like Bambi taking his first steps. The expanse of my house feels infinite after the confines of prison life.
Desperate for some sentiment of comfort, I decide to put off speaking with my father and try to enjoy my first night of freedom. I take a long, hot shower for one hour exactly and fall into bed, ready to sleep for as many hours as my mind will allow. Consciously, my mind does not allow me to fully unwind.
Minutes in, I dream of being locked inside a coffin, buried alive. Fear races through my veins as I bang against the wooden lid. Nothing but dust escapes. No one hears my cries. When I wake, bolt upright in bed, I can sense the dampness of my sheets. Panic triggering perspiration. Slowly, I regain a steady rhythm with my breath and peel myself from my bed. Searching for something concrete and real, my fingertips sweep around the walls of my room. Walls not much larger than my cell. I am still trapped. My freedom is constricted and limited by time.
I search for the clock on my wall and through the cracks of light breaking through my curtains I can just make out the late hour. It stirs something deep within me. A yearning. I gradually pull back the fabric and open up onto the world outside. A quiet haven empty of people and problems. It feels like greeting an old friend. A friend I’d all but lost touch with, but despite the distance, they still welcome you with open arms.
Something catches my eye or my heart. I can feel her presence beyond the wall. Beyond my reach. As I scan the streets, I see what my senses already know. Sophia. She stands in my mirror image, in front of her own shard of impenetrable glass. Watching me, watching her. I step closer and press my body against the pane. Just like all those months ago when we laughed in the tall grass, finding shapes amongst the clouds, our hands outstretch but this time they do not meet. We both push our palms against the glass and feel for the electricity. Her eyes fix on mine and her mouth parts open, but she does not speak. I see her exhale mist against the window, her panting rasps igniting my own. Her fingers glide against the softness of her blouse. I watch in awe as she pulls at her buttons. Eyes never leaving my face.
I cannot turn away.
Her bewitching glare intensifies as she slides the top from her skin. She pushes at her waist, dropping her skirt to the floor. I follow her lines and pour over her every curve. Heat rises from my body as I yearn to turn sight into touch. Instinctively, I tear at my clothing until they are nothing but a heap on the carpet. We stand naked and absorb one another without judgement, without fear. I long for her embrace, for her sweet lips. It is only now that I set my gaze on the ground. For it is those same lips that keep me locked in my house. It is her silence that threatens to send me to prison and keep me from being with her ever again. When I lift my head to resume our stance, she is already gone, lost within the shadows. I guess it is up to me to drag her into the light.