The Visit

Written by Carlen MacFarlane

“Convicted killer, Jacob Maynard struck again, this time from behind bars in a violent brawl yesterday at the state penitentiary.”

     The TV clicked and buzzed as it abruptly turned off.

     Sitting up from the uncomfortable metal bench he had become so familiar with, his muscles ached, and, for a moment, he had forgotten where he was.

     “It’s worth the wait to see her again,” he mused.

     He went back to staring at the wall. “Geez, I must’ve read that poster a thousand times,” he groaned, “probably memorized the dam thing by now.” He closed his eyes and recited, “The first step toward change is…”

     Glancing at his watch, he perked up. “Almost time.” Grinning foolishly, he thought, “I can’t wait to see her.”

     The bell rang and he quickly turned his gaze to the door watching for her as families took seats together at tables throughout the room.

     “Was I ever really that young?” he watched a young child blow a kiss to her father across the table. “Never was too good at the whole ‘school’ thing. Lots of bad decisions…” His mind wandered until he heard the doors close shut.

     “What? Did I miss her?” he searched frantically. “No way I could have missed her. Late maybe… must be it…” he decided and closed his eyes.

     “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step…”

     “She always has that dam pink blanket with her everywhere… I wouldn’t have missed that. Did she forget?” He looked for her again just as the bell rang. Chairs scraped on the floor as people stood up to go.

     “Dammit…” he muttered. Concerned, he approached a nearby staff member.

     “Have you seen my little girl? We were supposed to meet here now but I ain’t seen her anywhere.”

     The staff grunted and turned away, ignoring his question.

     “She has a bright pink blanket that she takes with her everywhere. Have you seen her?”

     The staff simply stared then reached for their radio.

     “Everyone else had their kids show up!” he cried.

     No response.

     “You’re supposed to know!” he screamed. “You can’t just brush me off like I ain’t here!” The veins in his neck bulged and his head throbbed. He clenched his eyes and remembered

     “We need to talk about your behaviour, sergeant.”

     “Doc, I didn’t do nothin’,” he quickly responded.

     “Your superiors are questioning your competence.”

     “I swear, Doc!” he insisted, his voice rising.

     “Tell me how you’ve been feeling?”

     “Sometimes I get a little… turbulent.” The doctor looked unconvinced. “I can control it!” He shouted, realizing he had just proved the doctor’s point.

     He grabbed the staff member’s arm and shouted, ”Check the list! Where is my daughter?”

     “Face it, she ain’t coming, better head back.” The staff member said casually.

     His face flushed and his fists clenched. White knuckled, he struck the staff member and was struck himself by that old familiar anger.

     “You can’t control yourself; I have no choice but to recommend an immediate discharge.”

     He beat the staff member down to the ground punching wildly.

     “Calm down!”

     “Calm down!”

     More staff quickly gathered, shouting. Two large men rushed in grabbing at him. He lashed, knocking one hard onto the ground. Soon, strong hands wrapped around his arms pulling him back, restraining him.

     “This is for your own good.”

     “This is for your own good. You do understand, don’t you?”

     Despite his rage, he did. He understood that his emotions got in the way. He could feel it happening at this very moment. A little part of him recognized that, but he couldn’t control it. He slowly stood up and with a surge of adrenaline, he tackled the doctor to the ground.

     As he fought back against his overwhelming anger, he looked up at the uniform sea of people gathered around him. Shouting and murmurs filled his ears. He could see more staff pushing through the crowd to get to him.

     “I can’t keep fighting like this… Why am I even here?” He questioned himself.

     Suddenly, the cold metal of handcuffs snapping around his wrists brought him back to reality.

     Defeated, he desperately racked his brain to remember why he had gotten mad in the first place. The familiar bright pink of a blanket caught his eye through the bars on the window. Through them, watching him with tears in her eyes, his daughter stood.

     “Visiting hours are over… Back to your cell, Maynard.”

     He closed his eyes.

     “The second step is acceptance.”

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