Friday, December 16, 2005
The Girl's thoughts spun faster and faster, trying to comprehend all the strange things she was hearing and seeing. Her own door she had left wide open. She hoped her brother wasn't hearing any of this from the other side of the wall. She couldn't risk breaking eye contact with the magazine to get up and shut the door, so she lowered her voice.
"What? Have I ever opened a magazine and seen real people inside who talked to me? No. What does, uh, One oh two wing--"
"It's like saying cell block 102. We at Marion Prison, Joliet, Illinois, kid. You're on the TV. And I don't know how you got in here."
The man stared at her for a moment, and she stared back. He turned around and asked his associate something in an urgent tone, then raised his arm tentatively, his hand hovering just outside the rectangle of the magazine page.
"Look, ahh, we got to turn this thing off and go to dinner. Can you be here same time tomorrow? I mean, be looking at your magazine, whatever it is? We got some questions for you."
"I think so. I don't know, though. I'll try."
"OK. Yeah, OK." The Prisoners seemed to be backing away, still looking at the Girl. Then they disappeared, and the cognac-naked lady picture took their place.
She closed the magazine and thumbed its pages quickly, feeling the stiff edges shuffle across the flat of her thumb and the air whoosh out from between them. Again and again the Girl shuffled the pages with her thumb, glancing at the green light of the clock-radio on her night table--and with a rush of adrenaline she understood that she had communicated with the men across time as well as space. It was eleven-eleven ,and they had mentioned dinner. She had no idea when dinner would be served in a prison, but it was probably earlier in the day, like six or five o'clock. Some no-nonsense time.
She lay on her back and imagined their lives, the lives of the Prisoners. What sort of food did they eat? Grown men, with someone telling them when to eat, when to go to bed, what to wear. And what had they done to be placed there, to have lost their freedom...Especially the man she had spoken with, what had he done to be imprisoned? Armed robbery, maybe. He had appeared strong, intelligent, not angry or crazy like a violent criminal. No, probably it was grand larceny. Or civil disobedience, like Martin Luther King, Junior. The man grew more virtuous in her mind with each passing moment. He had embezzled to give to the poor people from his home town, he had faced down a platoon of bulldozers threatening his farmland, he had stolen medicines from a pharmacy to save his child with asthma...Her thoughts were sucked into sleep as if through a porthole into outer space.
...And the two Prisoners sat in their cells that night and did not sleep. They thought wonderingly of what they had seen, the tele-vision on the television. Who was the Girl? What had caused her to appear in their midst? They thought of questions for her, cursing themselves for having ended the conversation first. Was she American? Where did she live? Had there been any clues in her appearance as to her location or identity? Oh, why hadn't they asked her more questions instead of arguing with each other? Perhaps if she appeared again they might be able to arrange a different sort of contact, like letter-writing. But what if she was from another time? What if she was really dead, and was communicating with them from her own time of many years ago, or from the future? What if she was currently an infant, and the 102 Wing TV had just given them a glimpse from the future?
7:50 AM :: ::
mar-mar :: permalink
i'm really enjoying this story -- looking forward to the next installment!By Eva, at 11:52 AM
I see so many echoes of my childhood here...keep it coming!By Kan, at 9:16 AM
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