I lay in bed with my eyes shut as the prison alarm assaults my ears. Nothing serious is happening. The warden just wants us to know that it’s 6 am and time for us to stop laying on our asses and start doing our jobs. But I ignore the alarm because I don’t want to open my eyes. I love laying in bed with closed eyes and not really sleeping. I feel I get the most peace and quiet this way. When I close my eyes, I can go back to when I was free. Like magic, I’m living in the new Harlem apartment my parents fought so hard to get. I can hear my mother sing as she mixes a chili on the stovetop. Her voice clashes with my little brother as his tiny fingers clang the piano keys in the living room. My father is in his study, practicing the saxophone, and the tune fills the entire house. I can almost feel myself turning the metal doorknob and opening the door, so I can talk to him. But I can’t because that life is long gone. I practice this memory every morning because I know it’ll slip away if I don’t. The only contact I have with the outside world is through memory.

The alarm stops. I take a deep breath and muster enough strength to open my eyes. At first, I cannot see anything as my eyes adjust to the harsh bright lighting. Pain radiates from my chest as I prop myself up on my side.. I think the pain emerges from my aching soul. I’ve been alive for too long. I see my roommate Lorenzo across the room. He’s already dressed and motions for me to hurry up as he staggers out of the room. I still can’t believe that tomorrow it will be his turn again. Will he survive? Will I wake up the next morning without a roommate? We’ve been mates for so long, and I don’t want to lose him. I do not see how I can continue on without him here. What if I can’t handle it and lose control? Every time I think about tomorrow, I feel a peculiar chilling darkness wash over my body, and my chest hurts a little bit more. 

I still can’t get up. I really do not want to go to work, and I hate that everyday I wake up and they force me to do terrible things. This is no ordinary prison. They save Accrington International prison for criminals too dangerous to house with the regular thugs. I admit we are a little different, and by different, I mean we have special abilities. Mine is that I am basically invincible, and no matter how hard they try to execute me, they always fail. When they tried to hang me, my neck wouldn’t break. When they put me in the electric chair hurt, it hurt like shit, and they left it on for five days, but my soul simply refused to leave. The lethal injection gave me a stomach ache, but that was all. If they ever found something that worked, I would gladly go. I don’t think they understand that I am probably more irked than they are. Then there is that other part of me, but I don’t dare speak of that part of myself. If I do, I fear I might awaken it. I tried to leave behind the practices that got me locked up here in the first place. 

I yank the covers off my body and swing my legs off my bed. I slide into my 10-year-old standard-issued prison boots. The cracks on the bottoms of the souls feel like pins and needles in the balls of my feet. I wish I could get new ones, but the warden says they are too expensive. I pull on my faded red jumpsuit and make my way out of the door. I wash my face and brush my teeth in the bathroom before heading to breakfast. As usual, the cafeteria is packed and filled with noisy people. The “unofficial” Accrington social ladder is divided into factions by special ability, and each group sits at their own respective table. Community is absolutely essential for survival; without it, you have no protection leaving you vulnerable to violence from inmates, the guards, or yourself. I grab a breakfast tray from the conveyor belt. 

Writer | Carolyn Thomas ’23 |
Editor | Mackenzie Dunson ’25 |