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Nothing to write home about

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November 6th, 2019

Day 5

 

They call this place by so many names, but to me none of them seem quite fitting; words like shithole, nick, slammer – to me they sound like words used when describing fictional places, something you can exaggerate or belittle as you please, romanticise and shape to your liking, words and places you can abandon just like that; because they are fiction, and they cannot touch you as you touch them. 

I don’t have a word of my own to depict it either; I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t one that can do it justice.  

Doing justice in this place, behold the irony. 

I’ve always enjoyed all things ironic and sarky, but I’m beginning to find that here those features are more or less dead; prison has no room for irony. 

It has no room, end of. 

Or rather, just a room. 

A room without a view - Helena Bonham-Carter wouldn’t star in that film, that’s for sure. 

The people here don’t have much view either; I’m sure I’ll catch up and stop having a personality soon enough, or probably just switch into another one.

I find it unfortunate, but I’m assuming it will be inevitable and necessary.

As been said, there truly isn’t a word that fits but if you need to use a word to describe it, you might go with desolation. 

It’s the best one I’ve come across so far. 

So, this place is now called the Desolation Dome, in lack of a better wording. 

Does it sound fictional too? 

Well, maybe I need my own fictional name for this place.

I think I’ve earned it. 

My name is Robert. I know you know that already – I’m just reminding myself of it.

I arrived in this place five days ago after I was transferred from another prison - sent 300 miles southward, simply because things weren’t complicated enough. 

At least that turn of events follows the usual route my life has tended to follow; I’ve always managed to complicate it further. 

I’m consistent like that. 

So, why am I here in the first place? 

A monster entered my life last spring. 

Three months ago, I crossed paths with said monster. 

Long story short, I killed the monster with a shovel. 

I wish I could say I did it on purpose, I really do. 

Being here now would make just a tad more sense. 

I was sentenced to life, with a minimum of 14 years - it seems a bit shitty, doesn’t it? Honestly, if it’s called a life sentence then by all means, give me a life sentence, don’t dangle a decade and a half in my face because I’m not interested. 

Fourteen years is ridiculous, because it’s too short to be construed as life, but too long to get back to a life once it’s been served. 

The day I heard about my transfer I only had a few hours to make a decision as to how I would break the news to my family. 

I didn’t, not exactly. 

The person who matters to me the most came for a visit.

I said goodbye to him, he just didn’t know it. 

I took off my wedding ring, said I was worried about it getting stolen and gave it to him; he said he’d keep it safe for me.  

I only want him to keep himself safe, I’m not fussed about the ring.

Even if I’m fussed about what it represents, but I can’t dwell on that now.

I told him that he can get through anything because he’s strong.  

It’s true, but I shouldn’t be the one to test that, I should be the one to add to the strength. 

But I’m better at chipping away at it. I’ve always been that way.

I told him I loved him - which is one hell of an understatement because what he means to me doesn’t have a name either, one that could do it justice but in lack of a bigger word, let’s call it love.

I cried. 

I hugged him. 

It was a long hug. 

But if I’m honest, it really was not. 

Those hugs always turn out much too short.

I wish I’d kissed him. 

Just one last time. 

Such a variety of regrets, but right now I’m really hating myself for not kissing him one more time. 

That might seem irrelevant to some, but those who find it irrelevant have never kissed him, so they don’t know what they’re missing. 

I do. 

After I stupidly hadn’t kissed him, I just as stupidly walked away without looking back. 

I should’ve looked back.

Just to see his face one more time. 

Sometimes I’ve been called a coward and an idiot wrongfully – I reckon this time it would’ve been right just as much as it would’ve been wrong.

Thing is, there might be many ways to break a heart, but the outcome is always equally terrifying, and you always break your own heart too in the end. Which is fair, obviously.

I don’t mind if he can never forgive me, but I need him to forgive himself. 

I know he’ll blame himself; he always does. 

His name is Aaron. 

He’s the love of my life. 

Unfortunately, my life is over now. 

My love for him didn’t get the memo. 

 

This place has the worst coffee in the history of coffee. 

I won’t even get into the food now, let’s just stick to one disappointment at a time.

I’m not usually one to complain – who am I kidding, I’m one to always complain, but this place is already chipping away at that need; not that there aren’t things to complain about, but rather you wouldn’t know where to start - or end, for that matter.

So, you don’t complain, but since this is the Desolation Dome, the complaints will be replaced by another sort of language, a different vocabulary, spoken in a generic accent - a dialect everyone here knows and no-one outside understands.

This is why it’s Desolation Dome in my mind; I’d rather make up my own lingo instead of resorting to the one on offer here.

It’s a plan destined to fail, but don’t tell me that.

When you live on the outside, you spend an astounding amount of time complaining about everything, which ultimately means you’re complaining about nothing. 

I’m not having a go here; I would be doing the same if I wasn’t stuck in Desolation Dome, I would happily be taking things for granted because that’s the free person’s prerogative. 

I think our strong urge to complain is just one of those things we need to add to that false sense of permanence; it’s a constant, and since life doesn’t offer much of that in general, if only because it comes to an end - we just make it up as we go along and moaning about pointless crap is apparently necessary for the things made of distraction and denial.

Speaking of Pointless, I really wish someone would change the telly channel more often in the day room and not subject me to that flippin’ quiz show. 

If I hear Alexander Armstrong say thanks very much indeed, Richard to his sidekick one more time, I swear I will – 

Will what, though? Not watch? 

What a threat. 

I’m sure the BBC is shaking in its trousers. 

I wish I had actual trousers to shake in; these clothes are really nothing to write home about - not that I’m writing home about anything since I’ve blocked contact from everyone. 

It’s easier that way. It’s better for them. No-one will thank me for it, but that’s not the point, is it? 

Before I became part of the population at Desolation Dome, before these itchy trackies and jumper became my fashion disaster of a uniform, I was fond of the colour maroon. I had a maroon suit I loved to wear.  

Aaron liked seeing me in that suit. 

I haven’t heard Aaron’s voice in five days. 

I try not to think about it, I try not to think about his voice. 

I find myself failing, if only to remind myself of the sound. 

He has a beautiful voice, and I’m afraid of forgetting how it sounds. 

I’m also equally terrified of not forgetting. 

I don’t know which is worse. 

I almost called him today and told him I just panicked; that he should tear up the divorce papers I sent, I wanted to be selfish and just listen to that beautiful voice of his, listen to him telling me he loves me, that he’ll move down here, that he’ll wait. 

That’s not a fantasy. 

He would do it. 

He’s amazing like that.

Which is exactly why I can’t let him. 

He’s the love of my life. 

But as been said, even though my heart didn’t get the memo, the unfortunate fact remains; my life is over now. 

His isn’t, and I’m just trying to make sure he knows that. 

I’m going to have another cup of horrible coffee soon; it’s just about the saddest thing ever. 

Almost as sad as my bare ring finger. 

I’m not fussed about the ring being safe, I’m fussed about Aaron being safe.

It just seems a tad unfair I’m no longer able to keep him safe, and my only contribution to the process is to divorce him, and the lack of ring reminds me of the puny, pathetic nature of that contribution.

I find it hard to breathe, knowing he’s received the letter from my solicitor today.

Knowing I’ve made him cry again.

The only consolation being that by making him cry today, I’ve spared him at least a decade’s worth of more tears.

 

Day 8

 

So, they can watch Pointless, but they change the channel during QI?

Now I know why people go crazy in prison; the lack of intellectual stimulation is disheartening.

I devoured a couple of Stephen King novels – pretty much read for 48 hours straight, apart from the usual Happy Meals. I had previously read both novels, but I suppose it’s true that you can always find new dimensions in classics when you reread them as you get older.

When you retire or, you know, murder someone.

Not that I recommend doing that, because you might end up in a prison without the opportunity to read.

Don’t take the risk, mate.

The first novel I reread was a book I first read in 2016; I had just gotten engaged.

I had also just nearly died in a car crashing into a lake.

We crashed into the lake because we were arguing.

I yelled out a marriage proposal.

Sort of.

There had been a crash at a bypass, a collision, so things were coming at us with impressive speed.

Remember when I said I always find a way to complicate my life?

Where was I? 

Right, the novels. I remember sitting in our bedroom, reading one of the books while Aaron was late for work, running back and forth topless, with a piece of toast between his teeth, muttering to himself and glancing at me every now and then with those bright blue eyes of his that can turn anyone into a mess. Suddenly as I looked up, the toast had changed into a toothbrush and he was wearing a top.

I don’t mind the toothbrush, it’s important – but the top I did mind, because he’s so gorgeous he should always limit his outfit to minimum amount of clothing.

Or wear a suit.

He should always wear a suit.

Some might find that irrelevant, but those who find it irrelevant have never seen him in a suit, so they don’t know what they’re missing.

I do.

They say that the most beautiful people are those who don’t know that they are beautiful.

Aaron is a great example.

God, I miss him.

Sometimes I wish I could stop missing him, but I don’t, not really – if I didn’t miss him, that would definitely mean that I’ve handed over my personality along with my leather jacket and my fake passport.

Except I didn’t have the passport on me.

Why would have I  had one? Well, after the monster croaked at the hospital, the original plan was to go on the run. Aaron and I were going to do one into wine country in France, but as often in life, a chateau by a river, state of the art motorcycles and sipping Côtes du Rhône all day long are not the things you end up having, it’s more likely to have handcuffs snapped onto your wrists whilst your husband is screaming at you from across the road because you turned yourself in and didn’t tell him in advance.

We were supposed to do this together, is what I heard him shout before I was shoved into the police car.

Truth is, I was never gonna let him do that. 

He knows why, but he pretends that he doesn’t because he wanted to abandon his life for me; because he loves me against his better judgement.

He’s headstrong like that.

I met up with my solicitor, as there were affairs to sort. I’ve always taken some sort of weird pleasure in filling out forms, maybe because I’m good at it – but filling out those divorce papers was the worst few minutes of my life.

I didn’t recognise my own handwriting; it was all scrawled and messy, just barely legible. 

It looked like Aaron’s handwriting.

Maybe I just wanted to see a piece of him appear in front of me.

I’m not doing great with the letting him go part, am I?

 

Day 10

 

Well, I can officially say that Hearts in Atlantis was better than I remembered.

I should slow down the reading pace, there’s only so many books in this place and if I keep this up, I will run out of reading material next week.

But I would rather read than participate.

I tried that today, and all I can say is the people in here are thoroughly boring, myself included - granted my participation was briefly talking to two people on my way to the library, but it counts, so don’t at me.

They were two Hungarian blokes with long black hair, rugged features, and piercing blue eyes (not as blue as Aaron’s, but no-one else’s are). They looked like those metalheads from the previous century; I’m pretty sure at least one of them has an Iron Maiden tattoo.

We talked about the weather.

Is it just me, or does talking about the weather seem a tad pointless when you’re in prison? 

Apparently, the British and the Ugric have equally bad imagination when it comes to smalltalk. 

Thanks very much indeed, Richard.

I’m not complaining in the slightest, as I would much rather discuss humidity percentages and cumulus clouds instead of so what are you in for.

Why would I want to know what not good they’ve been up to that landed them in Desolation Dome? Instead, I gladly take the walk down their memory lane discussing a particularly brutal heatwave and the water shortage it caused in the seventh district of Budapest.

There’s someone in this wing who reminds me of my husband’s cousin; this bloke seems to have a matching personality and the same voice.

I haven’t heard Aaron’s voice in 9 days.

Hearing his cousin’s doppelgänger’s voice is not exactly a consolation prize, it’s not a prize nor is it a consolation, but it’s something.

That’s prison for ya; everything here is something because you just take what you can get.

Or, you know, read.

I don’t often wish I were a kid again, but some nights here I do, simply because I could fetch a flashlight and read under the covers all night.

Or not.

I think I dream about those kinds of things just because it gives me a nicely false sense of having options; look at me, I might read or I might not, it’s up to me.

It isn’t, but don’t tell me that, okay?

My cellmate arrived today; I had a few luxurious days of complete solitude, and now there’s another living creature in the room.

I’d rather have Aaron scowling at my too cheery morning self in our kitchen whilst our son attempts to wash his hair with porridge instead of eating it, a sister stomping about on the staircase and mocking us just because she can and the dog fussing over everything and nothing.

We didn’t actually have a dog, but I would’ve agreed to it eventually, mainly because I can’t resist Aaron looking at me with his unfairly blue eyes. 

I hope he gets a dog now, i would help him.

Our family promised to look after him.

That helps me.

Knowing that he’s safe, even if he’s not okay.

Our son turned two yesterday.

Aaron’s not gonna thank me for leaving him to deal with the terrible twos. 

He’s not gonna thank me anyway.

I would thank him, if only for making me a person and as established before, loving me against his better judgement.

He made me a better man – I’m not great, but for a moment I was better because of Aaron.

He’s magical like that.

The cellmate, he doesn’t have bright blue eyes and he’s not washing his hair with porridge.

He doesn’t really talk, but he's alright.

And he shook my hand enthusiastically when he arrived.

People here know what I did and whom I did it to, and they respect it.

It’s probably the only reason they let me be, at least for now.

I’m nothing but grateful for that.

I queued to the phones again tonight, but I didn’t call anyone in the end.

I wouldn’t know what to say, and if you knew me, you’d not take that verbatim.

I always have something to say.

Aaron used to say that he could only shut me up between the sheets.

This silence doesn’t have such incentives.

 

Day 14

 

I’m disappointed; I’ve been here a full fortnight and no-one gave me a chip or made me a cake, I didn’t even get a cup of better coffee.

I reckon this is something I should be able to complain about, don’t you?

It’s strange how fast time goes when you just read. When I still had a business – and a house, a son, a sister, a husband, a life - I didn’t read often enough.

Because I thought I’d have time to read later on.

Hah, joke’s on you because I was right, wasn’t I?

I definitely have time to read now.

My cellmate’s name is not what I’m telling you here, as is his personality.

I don’t mind the fibbing; I actually quite like that I can change and name people to my liking, even if it’s just a precaution.

So, in the end I too am one of those who use fictional nick(hah)names and false descriptions after all, shaping things to my liking – but trust me, you’d be doing the same thing if you were stuck here with bad excuse for a coffee, very questionable interior design choices and Alexander Armstrong’s voice.

I haven’t heard Aaron’s voice in thirteen days.

I’m starting to think my inner growth has stopped.

I think I always knew that hearing his voice was the biggest necessity, but I never had to put it to test.

Don’t try this at home, kids, it’s really not enjoyable.

Back to the cellmate – his name, from now on, is Jamie.

Why Jamie? Because he looks a bit like Jamie Lannister.

Okay, he doesn’t - but for the sake of fiction, let’s say he does.

I know you’re rolling your eyes and thinking oh God, is he gonna call everyone with the name of a Game of Thrones character?

Yes, I most definitely might.

But it’s my delusion in desolation, so you’ll just have to lump it.

Trust me, you’d be doing the same thing if you were stuck in here, with the coffee and the concrete and Alexander Armstrong.

I miss Aaron.

I hope he’s okay.

I know he’s not, but I still hope that he is.

My mind is stuck somewhere between shaping his status quo into my liking and imagining the worst possible outcomes.

Aaron, I know you can’t hear me, but I’m gonna say something anyway.

Or maybe I don’t have to.

Because you know.