Using her hands as leverage, Dorothy hefted her considerable weight from a molded chair and turned away from a tiny privacy cubical. Shoulders heavy, she gathered her purse that had been checked and emptied earlier by a guard.
“Wait,” a voice, muffled though a metal vent pleaded. Glancing back, she saw her boyfriend still seated, his features distorted through the Plexiglas separating them.
She bent toward the vent, resting her head on the transparent screen. Closing her eyes, she raised a hand, palm opened to rest on the plexi. Her hair was limp from lack of air-conditioning in the room, her polka-dotted dress wet and stained under the armpits. “I wanted to look pretty today,” she whispered.
She shook her head. “Nothin’, Sam. I gotta go.”
Sam half-rose from his seat to mirror the palm of his hand with hers - every aspect observed but for the lack of actual human touch. “I didn’t mean to yell; sit back, please.”
She looked at him, her own reflection ghostly reflected over his image in the window. The plastic pearls she’d bought at the five-and-dime to match her dress shimmered in the glass.
“You gotta get me a new lawyer, babe. That court appointed DA ain’t worth squat. I got five years lookin’ me square in the face.”
She sat back down. “Not just you, Sam, you got a family put on hold, too.”
“Family, what you mean family?”
“You’re what!” he hissed. “How come you went and got that way; ain’t things hard enough without another mouth to feed.”
“I thought maybe it’d help,” her voice faded. “‘Sides, I’ll be takin’ care of it now.”
“See that you do and don’t go spendin’ a lot of money for it ‘cause you gotta get me a good lawyer.”
“It won’t be costin’ you a thing, Sam and I won’t be getting’ you no lawyer. You robbed that store alone and you gotta pay for it the way the law says. And I’ll pay for what I gotta do.”
Sam sat up straight, eyes wide. His hands reached out, blocked only by the plexi. “You know how I feel ‘bout bein’ caged like some dog. I’ll go crazy. What I done I did for us both.”
“Quit lyin'. You did it for the drugs. They got you more tied up than any jail ever could.” She bowed her head, kneading a damp tissue in her hands. “We coulda had a good life together.” Her voice became a whisper. “I prayed to God ‘bout it; but I guess he didn’t hear me ‘cause of our livin’ in sin.”
She looked up at him, a faint hint of hope in her eyes. “‘Bout the only descent thing I could ever do in life is getting’ married.” Her look became distant, a smile shadowing her lips. “I bought Baby’s-breaths today, the kind I always wanted to carry at my weddin'. They guard took them when I came in.”
Sam huffed. “You feelin’ sorry for yourself? Here I am the one locked up and you’re out there free and bleatin’ ‘bout yourself.” He shook his head.
“I got guilt, Sam, ‘bout all the bad things I done and it’s got hold of me – like those drugs and jail have you. Difference is, in five years you get out.”
“What you talkin’ ‘bout?”
She held the tissue to her face. “Maybe I could live in misery knowin’ there was an end to it, but it don’t work that way for me. I’ll carry misery the rest of my life ‘cause part of it is rememberin’ the hurt it all caused.”
A bell chimed. “Sam Davis” a voice crackled over a speaker. “Visiting time is over.”
Dorothy sighed. “I loved you once, maybe I still do. Maybe if we’d done better - cleaned up for real - we coulda had a good life.” She got up and rubbed her belly. “You, me and the baby.” She smiled, wistfully. “I wanted you to remember me pretty, like maybe on our weddin’ day.”
“I’ll go crazy, I tell ya. Don’t forget 'bout that good lawyer, babe.”
Outside the room, the guard handed Dorothy back the contents of her purse. “Rat poison and Baby’s-breaths,” he stated holding the box of poison next to the twig of wilting flowers. He handed them to her. “Rat poison’s got arsenic, says right here on the box.” He shook his head. “Kills ‘bout anything.”
Dorothy took them both. “I know,” she answered. “I know.”
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