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“Yes,the doors are locked now ladies. There is no place to go so I suggest you make yourselves at home." Cpt. Garrett of the prison welcoming committee leaves us to our new housemates on cell block 4.
Thump. Thumpity-Thump. Thump.
“Hi. I’m Crystal.” Maybe the girl sitting in my cell will be nice but my heart is beating is so loud she can probably hear it. I stretch out my right hand.
She smiles through cracked lips and tired eyes and grabs my hand. Hers are calloused and red. She reads my thoughts and laughs lightly.
“Laundry duty will do that to your hands. Borax isn’t so kind on them after all these years. I’m Farrah.”
Scurry. Scurry. Scurry.
Farrah points out my bunk just as a tiny grey mouse runs out from under its covers.
“That’s just Little John. I won't feed him on your bed anymore now that you’re here.”
“Thanks. By the way, do you know when they will give us our phones back?”
If it is possible for Farrah to flip out of her bolted-to-the-floor chair, she will because her laughter is so hearty and loud that the other prisoners start asking what is so funny.
Pat. Pat. Pat.
“Whoo whee! Sit down. We need to talk.” I sit on my bunk where she pats and listen intently.
“Crystal, you are in jail. There is no phone, no social network, no videos, and no games. There is no internet or television here. There is no magic box with screen and after screen of entertainment and distraction. You share a cell with me because they want you to learn how to communicate with another human being on a real level instead of doing it through text, chat, and face time. I don’t know what you did to get in here but it wasn’t a light crime. In here, you have no distractions. You can’t afford them. See that chick over in cell block 5? Her name is Big Linda and she will snap your neck in three seconds if you look at her wrong.”
I look down next to me on the stiff scratchy blanket and there is a book.
Farrah continues, “Now, if you are smart, you will take that book and read it from cover to cover. Then, you will read it again. Then you will read it again. Get my point?”
“What is it?” I ask.
“It has the answer to every question. It has forgiveness and understanding. It will invoke so much pain from your heart that you will cry. It will make you think and it will make you question a lot of things. It will make you angry and it will make you happy. It has no pictures but you won’t need any. You will need the words of this book everyday of your life. It is your new social network. You will meet people in this book far more interesting and real than all your so called friends. So, how many friends did you have onsite anyway?”
“A little over three thousand.” I smile proudly.
“Well, where are any of them now? None of them can get you out of here. Were any of them at your trial? Are any of them with you now bearing this punishment for whatever you did to get in here?”
Snap. Snap. Thump.
“In this book, you will meet your best friend. You will meet your only true friend. His name is Jesus and this book is the Bible.” Farrah motions for me to pick it up.
It is heavy in my hands, unlike my phone. It is thick and dusty instead of sleek and shiny like my phone. It has no buttons or a touch screen. I open it and there are handwritten notes on the front cover from past inmates. There is even one penned by Farrah.
“Don’t you want to know what I did to get in here?” I ask Farrah.
She smiles, “Not really. If you read that book and accept it as the truth of life and ask for forgiveness, then it doesn’t even matter. Do you want to know what I did to get in here?”
I lean back onto my bed with the Bible and reply, “No.”
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