It was almost noon. Patricia was already in the line, it was almost one hundred feet long when she arrived. But she was half way to the gate. The heat was starting to take its toll on everyone. Few people were waiting patiently, trying to defuse the summer midday sun. Others, the majority, were more talkative and playful. Patricia would call them instigators, although they were there for the same reason she was. At least, it seemed like it.
Forty minutes later, she was in the gate. The officer had her bag open, going through and pulling away things that could be, according to the officer’s opinion, hazardous for her and Jake. Pointy objects, metal objects. Then, she was inspected from head to toe. An undermining process she despised to undergo every time she came to visit Jake. She had had enough of that.
A female grabbed her as if she were a piece of trash. She didn’t complain because she had learned to restrain from saying anything, even to whisper any gutsy comment–she was sent once, without seeing Jake.
After the demoralizing procedure of going through security, she was escorted to the conjugal visiting rooms. The officer came in first, he checked the room before letting her in. It was smaller than hers. There was barely room for the bed, not alone her and Jake. There was just a small barred window near the ceiling. The washed-up wall paint was peeling off. The stench almost made her throw up.
She sat on the bed. The door remained open. She stared at the washed-out wall, she got lost in her thoughts. She knew she had to do it, but she didn’t know how. She had started to regret seeing him alone in that room. Jake had grown a temper months later of being locked up. She attempted to grasp what he might be experiencing in there. He was a nice man, but she remembers what movie character used to say about prison: it changes a man.
Though, Jake wasn’t there for doing anything serious. He just robbed a car. Nothing more! Though, he robbed the wrong car. A man with a bad luck and judgment, she thought. He stole a police officer’s car!
He was sentenced for six years in a low security prison. Not a way to spend the days, yet he wasn’t with the big fish.
Forty minutes had already passed. She began collecting her memories since the first time she came to visit Jake. He cried every time they were together. She couldn’t bear seeing him so devastated. He used to put up with everything that might come his way. Chest up attitude was his allure. She felt safe and guarded. She loved her macho-man attitude. She wasn’t a scary lady at all; perhaps that was the attraction that both have to each other. Yet, that man kept vanishing a little by little, till his body began channeling the desolation he faced.
She kept remembering. Twenty minute had passed. Then, she thought of how many opportunities she had lost because of having her husband in prison. People judge whom they want to judge. She bore the outside judgment every day. She saw it on people’s faces. She heard it from word of mouth. Despite her efforts to deafen what people gossiped about her and Jake, it wasn’t possible. She had put a mask for too long. She had smiled at hypocrite faces for quite enough. But, she had lost the strength to carry on. She wished to have, at least, a scrap of what her life used to be.
She knew she had to do it. She had to stop seeing him. She had chosen to see him like that because he might need a moment for himself to process everything. She assumed it was the least hurtful way to drop a bomb of that magnitude. She would have the privacy both needed to deal with the break-up.
Jake came in. Her eyes watered. He closed the door behind him.
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