i rubbed my eyes and felt the swelling where a wasp had stung my right eye, less than 24 hours earlier. i should've known. the universe was trying to tell me. nothing good can come from going out with a swollen eye. i hadn't had benadryl for over the allotted six hours, and it had swelled back to half-closed; pink and itchy. oozing. or maybe it was just that bed-mat, infested with germs from the last dead-beat female delinquent who had previously spent the night here; cold and itchy and alone.
i heard the door slowly creak open, the clatter of women's holding cell 3 shake with rage at being disturbed so early in the morning.
"Breakfast," the elderly cook squawked at me and the small brunette girl curled up on the other corner of the bench, furthest from the cold, steel toilet and matching sink. the old woman's hoarse voice betrayed what we were all thinking; 6 a.m. is too damn early.
i rolled toward the door and watched as Starr, my holding cell mate, presumably in for petty theft and not her first offense, stood wobbly from her bed mat.
"Do ya'll have coffee?" she rasped.
"No," the old lady answered, and handed her a yellow plastic tray filled with unidentifiable substance, all of the same general color and consistency. i didn't move from my spot on the bench. And then, presumably directed at me,
"Better eat. You don't get fed again till lunch. There's no snacks in jail."
I didn't respond. Instead, kicked my feet to the ground, slid on my plastic-y, orange slide-ons, courtesy of Kerr County, and made the short half stumble, half-crawl over to the door. She handed me the tray and i took it back to my spot, set it down, and stared. No way do i put any of that shit in my mouth. I looked up and Starr was drinking from her carton of 2% milk, facing the dingy white wall with her back to me. I thought of requesting soy milk just to see what that cranky old bitch would say to me. The thought made me laugh out loud, but it came out more like a dry cough, reminding me that the last thing i had to drink was a fruit-punch-flavored Four Loko. too bad i never got to finish it.
i worked up the nerve to pick up my spoon. and slowly lifted a mound of what i deduced to be apple sauce, into my mouth. my stomach turned as i swallowed it and i immediately felt the bile rise up into my throat.
i pushed the tray away from me and laid back down on the hard, white bench.
but this 4x4 cell block, empty, cold and gray as a raincloud in april, isn't where my story begins. this is where it ends.