A taste of freedom


The nights were the worst, the constant swearing, cell doors clanging: sometimes
running footsteps as another hopeless soul decides to end it all.  Prison must be the nearest thing to hell, one
can experience without dying.  This is an
experience I would not wish on my worst enemy, but I still can’t regret the
circumstances that brought me to this.  The
fateful night when I finally decided to be judge and jury to one of gods
children.  Not that it was really a
sudden decision, I had actually been thinking of nothing else for a number of
months, but the fatal day was really as much of a shock to me as it was to
everybody else.

He had left for work at the usual time, eight on the dot; everything was
on the dot with him, breakfast dinner, bedtime, everything.  When he wasn’t there he was on the phone,
checking up on me.  He didn’t believe in
mobile phones, too mobile.  Even if I
could have got away with using one, how could I possibly afford one?  He held the purse strings.  At eleven he rang, he would not be home
tonight as he had to go out of town for a conference meeting, might not make it
back until tomorrow night, depending on how things went, would call again
tomorrow morning.  After a little jig
around the house, I calmed down a bit and considered what I would do with my
unexpected day of freedom.

Of course, I didn’t have any friends to call.  They were long ago cut out of my life by
him.  He simply could not cope with
coming second best to anyone else.  For
the same reason, we had no children, they were too messy, and would be too
consuming of my time.  I have always been
able to hide my resentment of this, sometimes even believing my own stories of
not being maternal.  For some reason this
patch of freedom brought all my pent-up feelings to the surface and I spent
most of the day seething at his total self-centredness in the marriage.  So much so, that I decided there and then,
this would end one way or another

I decided that I would give him a chance before I did anything drastic, I
would ask him for a divorce.  I suppose I
knew in my heart that this was useless, he would never agree, so I decided on a
plan B.  I inquired in the hard-ware
store about the best way to kill rats, and was directed to the pharmacy for a
suitable potion.  I had decided that if
it killed one type of rat it would kill them all.  All in all I enjoyed my day of freedom, maybe
already knowing it would be my last for a lot of years.  The sneaky bugger didn’t even stay
over-night; he arrived home at the usual time, telling me the conference had
been cancelled.  I knew then and there
that his fate was sealed; I might as well be in a real prison as living like

Deciding to ditch plan A, I prepared his meal and added a double dose of
the rat poison just to be sure.  It was
just lucky he was a lover of spicy food; well tonight it was extra spicy.  Half way through the night he woke up with
crippling stomach pains, crying for a doctor.
I was reluctant to call the doctor straightaway in case they were able
to save him, but on the other hand it’s hard to watch anyone in such pain.  Deciding to take my chances I called an
ambulance, professing ignorance of his ailment, all I could tell them was, it
seems to be food poisoning, must have eaten lunch out today.  Of course this didn’t work for long, when
they got him to hospital and realised what was really wrong with him, I got a
visit from the police.  Would I answer a
few questions?  Of course, I pleaded
ignorance; couldn’t help them, he was away all day.

It wasn’t long until all the evidence mounted up against me.  The pharmacist remembered me buying the poison,
did I look stressed? No as a matter of fact, I appeared quite cheerful.  A lot of our closest neighbours came forward
to say what a saint he was, he never refused to do a good turn.  He gave me a very good quality life-style;
they couldn’t understand how I could be so ungrateful.  The jury agreed with them, and I was on my
way to prison.  There really wasn’t
anything I could say in my defence, no he hadn’t hit me, no, he never left me
shirt of food or clothes, the only thing he wouldn’t let me have was my
dignity, and how do you explain that in a court of law.

My first sight of the huge gateway to the prison was scary, looking up
through the skylight of the police van.  The
questions, the body search, yuck, the
clothes, never a lover of fashion, nevertheless the selection I was handed was
not to my liking.  I can’t bear the feel
of denim on my legs.  One more thing I’ll
have to get used to, I guess.  The first
night was absolutely horrendous.  We were
locked in our cells at eight o’clock at night until eight o’clock next
morning.  My cell mate was young girl of
nineteen, with horribly scarred face and arms, as a result of self harming, a
habit she continued to indulge in with unsettling regularity.  Many nights I woke up to find her covered in
blood, being dragged out of the cell, kicking and screaming.

But the very worse thing was the slop bucket we had to use in the night,
and in the morning, carry down the long corridor to the toilet block.  That is the simplest way to dehumanize a
person, turn her into a number, make her eat at certain times whether she is
hungry or not, control her every move from morning to night.  Things did not improve in the prison, every
day there was another indignity, another rule to be obeyed.  No matter how hard things got, I only had to
remember my life with him, to feel content with life behind bars.  At least I didn’t have to have sex every
second night on the dot, I certainly didn’t miss that.  Over the months I became friendly with
another inmate, a forty year old country girl, sentenced for murdering her
abusive husband, and she had the scars to prove the physical abuse.  These scars didn’t help her in court, so I
guess it’s just as well I didn’t invent any incidents in my own case.

Well, Joan had already served five years, when I arrived, so she was of
course, already hardened to prison life.
She became a good mate to me, sharing her roll-ups with me, it was
ironic that I hadn’t smoked out in the real world when I supposedly had a
comfortable lifestyle, and I started in here where I only earned a few bob a
week.  The cigs helped to dull the
boredom, some of the women somehow managed to get their hands on drugs, but I
found it hard enough to afford a packet of tobacco.  We got into the habit of spending the
recreational hour together in one or other of our cells, just talking about
everything and anything, the screws as the wardens were called all the time
kept a watchful eye on us in case we were plotting something.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as we were probably the only two
people there who felt at home in the prison. I was beginning to even find the
nights bearable, the one thing I never got used to was, Jill, my cell-mate, continuing
to self-harm every so often.  Because I
had only been charged with attempted murder; the devious bastard had managed to
live through the poisoning, I would still be free before Joan.  We had made plans to continue our friendship
outside the prison, when Joan was freed four months after me.  Two weeks before I was due out, I had an
unexpected visitor, a rarity; I had not had a single visit in the four years I
served.  I could not believe my eyes when
I saw him sitting in the visitor’s chair, not a bother on him.  I was even more astonished when I realised
he’d come to make arrangements for my homecoming.  The gall of him, forgiving me, I lowered my
voice because of the patrolling screws, “why would I want to go home again with
a controlling bastard like you”.  He knew
I didn’t really mean to kill him, we could be happy again, like the old
days.  I laughed out loud, heads turned
in our direction, quickly I lowered my voice “listen, moron, we are finished,
over, we were never happy, maybe you were, but I wasn’t, and if I could find a
way to do it again and avoid this place, I would in a heart beat, so the best
thing you can do, is go home, consult a lawyer and set me free.  Don’t forget I’m an ex con now, I have contacts,
and one way or another, I want my freedom”.
As he scampered out, I could hear laughing, and I was amazed to realize
it was myself, I hadn’t enjoyed anything so much as far back as I
remember.  As I walked down the avenue on
my release, hearing the big doors clanging shut behind me, I felt doubly free;
I’d heard from his solicitor, he was divorcing me on grounds of
unreasonableness.  I only had one regret
after that, I wish I’d been unreasonable years ago. Laughing out loud, I strode
out towards my future.




About margaretmarymurphy

I'm an elderly woman (1 husband 6 children 15 grandchildren & 1 great grandson ) I love talking, writing, looking at art & I take a porcelein painting class & can't for the day I get my own kiln.
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2 Responses to A taste of freedom

  1. Mairead Ni Lorcain says:

    I’ve been trying to write a story but I haven;t got very far. I lack a proper plot. This story has a plot. Might it turn into a novel? There is a lot happening here. There are characters emerging.I can see these scenes growing into something bigger. Well done.

  2. Trich says:

    Make this a short story Margaret & enter it into the Fish Short Story competition. http://www.fishpublishing.com/

    I enjoyed reading it girl 🙂

    Thank you for sharing.

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