It was 2a.m. as he tossed and turned in bed. Flashes of visions spilled out from the darkness, and he was unsure as to whether he was truly asleep. “I question my sanity,” he murmured and groaned, as he turned to his side on the plush bed. Perhaps it’s the new feathered mattress topping, or the fact that the king bed is constantly threatening to engulf me, he thought.
An image of bars cut through his thoughts. Not the kind of bars you’d expect from a hangover; these were strong, metal prison bars. He remembered the elderly father with frizzled white hair limping towards his son as the latter squeezed through the crowd of prisoners yearning to reconnect with their visitors. Not that the son would find it hard to navigate the sweaty bodies, for this was a tall, tattooed and burly grown man, just the breed one would expect in a prison. His physique though, was vastly different to that of a lanky teenager eight years ago. Then, he was an 18-year-old full of hopes and dreams like his peers, but was sadly, always yearning for more. Little did he know that those unmet desires would one day cost him everything.
His father, now a ripe old age of 65, was forced to move to this foreign land to care for his only child. Like any father, he didn’t have to; he wanted to. Yet, he felt like a failure, being unable to provide the usual care he had envisioned at this stage of their lives. Treats to footy games, bonding over beer and meat, or simply, long drives out to the country where they had owned 12 acres of land. That beautiful freedom, now reduced to 12 squares of cement and dirt. For most part of eight years, the feeling of failure plagued him daily. If only he had spent more time with the young school kid who constantly pestered him for tickets to the grand prix. He had over-thought the situation, what with giving his kid the green light to speed and endanger lives. “I wish I didn’t over-complicate things back then”, the father sighed, wincing as he rubbed his bad leg for which he was unable to obtain the necessary care.
Tossing yet again, the man sat straight up. That was too much detail, he thought, too much detail. He couldn’t shake off the images of the other prisoners and their families – the holding of hands through those bars, sharing of favourite family meals over the counter, and young children who were allowed the rare privilege of being held by their parent in the orange vest.
That picture was grim, he reminisced, but there was also something amiss. There were bags of toys, clothes and coveted snacks for some, and none for others. There were prisoners conversing with their loved ones outside of the bars, blending in with the visitors. And then, there were those who still looked affected by the substances they were doing time for.
The man wiped a sweat from his forehead, and looked at the time. 3a.m., glared the clock, almost blinding him with its bright light. I don’t have time for this frivolous flashback of a distant memory, he frowned, angry at the possibility of being late to his important job the next day.
So, he let that moment pass.
Time went on, and the more he ignored the flashes in the dark, the dimmer they became until one day, he became acutely aware that he was alone in the dark.
Entirely fiction, but based on a true story.