There was a time when I thought I could save the world; in reality, I would be protecting myself from harm, where the rest of the world wouldn’t feel the effect of my wrath. At this moment, that all changed. I was on the cliff of a mountain that I knew I could fall from at any minute. I considered myself at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, you know, completed and accomplished. I fell off, but I couldn’t remember taking the wrong step. I hurt myself badly. Dang! Now I have a bruise for show and tell, and it isn’t something that a little splash of concealer would be able to fix. The pain is unbearable. There’s a lot of blood and no one here to help me up. I looked at my trembling hands and for the first time, an ounce of fear struck me. The million dollar question is how did I fall?
I looked to my left and saw my parents John and Lynn, smiling at me, our very first Christmas together kind of smile. To my right, I saw Yasmeen, my childhood best friend – great at taking a selfie – gazing at me like I did something wrong. I never favored that look much, mostly because she turned into the most sensitive person on the planet. I could smell her Chloe perfume; it was a present I gave her, my welcoming gift, for our first day at NYU. My cheeks began to blush as if I saw the love of my life for the first time. I’m embarrassed. My eyes were swollen shut, and there is a loud thumping feeling in my throat. Something might be stuck in there; that’s why I can’t scream, let alone swallow my saliva. I officially checked into La-La land. I’d completely lost it. The thought of being down here has taken over my brain.
Why am I here, alone and incapable of getting up? Where is everyone? Why isn’t someone coming to my rescue? I began panicking and started wondering if I deserve to be helped. For a second, I thought I was dreaming. Wait, there is someone here. A woman, pacing back and forth across the area where I was.
“Hey, miss lady,” I yelled at her. She wouldn’t even glance in my direction as if I didn’t exist. “Don’t you hear me talking to you? Am I invisible?”
She continued to ignore me. The woman was a brunette, thick in the waist and ugly in the face. She wore an awful shade of whore-red lipstick that struggled to mask her chapped lips. Shorty was pushing forty and needed a workout plan. Her nasty attitude added to her horrid look. Why wouldn’t she answer me or at least look at me? I started to panic. What if she doesn’t see me? I questioned that thought for a moment. Am I dead?!
I took the time to think for a second, replaying everything in my head, but the imagery still wasn’t clear enough for me. I was doing just fine up there on the mountaintop. I could see everything and everyone. I had on the perfect sneakers; the black suede Nike Air Force 1 with the gum rubber bottom. It should’ve given me the best grip for my hike to the top while adding some style to my stride. I chuckled at the sneaker analogy of my life. I had everything I could have wanted at that time, minus a few minor things like someone to watch my back – or my front – and make sure it’s okay to stand where I was for so long. I had that and figured I didn’t have any use for it. Now I wish I had someone to pull me up or catch me right when I slid out of my stance. It all occurred so fast.
Was this the place I had to be? Where did I go wrong in life? What happened, Daph? I feel so naked, and alone, I can’t endure this pain, I don’t know how to. As long as I’ve been on my own, I’ve never felt like this. Someone needs to put me on immediately before I go crazy, but there’s a gate here and it’s blocking me from getting the answers to my questions.
The barred gate is connected to what use to be a dark gray colored wall. Chipped paint, fingernail scratches, and gang tags made the decor. At least there was a toilet, although it embraced a revolting smell of a rotting carcass. I was in a shitty four-by-four, and I’m not talking about the jeep. I stared at the flickering lights over my head from the corner of my cell.
Finally, I got up and jetted towards it. Fuck, it’s locked! “Someone PLEASE help me,” I roared. “Deadass, I need help. Open this gate now. HELLO!”
That damn marathon walker appeared within seconds of my shouting, but this time she wasn’t alone. A young man, a timid rookie cop, arose in my presence. He was a little cutie rocking this sun-dried, brown hair color that matched his eyes. He could be in his mid-twenties if I had to guess. Figured he was here to look good because he didn’t utter a word.
“Is there something you need other than a muzzle, Porter?” The woman scowled.
She knows my name, even though it was only my last name, I wasn’t their Jane Doe. Then again, I felt like I was in trouble for something or I may have pissed her off just a bit.
“Can you let me out?” I asked in a honeyed voice. I backed away from the gate with an innocent look and relaxed demeanor. “I don’t belong here and need to go home.” I started my sniveling effect – it usually works when I am trying to get out of something – but the woman guard was over my act. She disregarded what I had to say and walked off with an eye roll.
I felt a panic attack coming on. “You guys can’t hold me in here unless you’re charging me with a crime,” I shouted.
“Oh, you could bet your bottom dollar we are.”
The raspy voice came from a tall, dark and handsome man who started walking down the runway and over to me. His face resembled a half-peeled orange with perfect teeth and blue eyes. His short buzz-fade brought out the few wrinkles on his forehead and around his eyes. Officer Muellen (as seen on his badge) raised his eyebrows before gloating about the excitement of his triumph.
“Porter in the flesh,” he snarled. “It only took us three days to catch up with you I see.”
Now I’m completely confused. I started to hint at this being nothing more than a joke, but I wasn’t here for it. That ounce of fear I have is overshadowing my judgment of this situation entirely.
“As I try to ponder what it is that you’re talking about, you should let me out of here.” The two officers glanced at each other before giving me their parroting stare of amusement, as if I gave them a joke.
“Oh, you think you have choices in here, Ms. Daphne,” he said with this evil laugh. “You’ve made your choice to ruin your life by taking someone else’s long ago.”
My heart stopped. I’m not in here for any of my notorious wrongdoings; apparently I took a life from someone, a whole life, and now the system wants to take mine. Any other person in my place would be in pure numbness and panic, mixed with boiling rage and vexation while contemplating suicidal thoughts. But for some reason, I couldn’t help nor hide my laughter. It was funny. I wonder who’d conjured this idea because it was really creative.
I’ve done a significant number of things in my life; I sold drugs, sold pussy – literally – and even sold sensitive information to the highest bidder. While getting my hands dirty, I went to school for Integrated Marketing Communications and a minor in pre-law. Life flowed so swiftly because I knew my way around everything. I wasn’t the typical girl that every guy wanted to date in college. I’m acknowledged as the one who knew how to get some cash and hold her own. A go-getter if you will. Everyone looked up to me. They admired my style, optimism, and the love I had for other people. Yeah, I did some messed up shit to build this reputation, but the events of this lead me to the struggle-free life I’d long dreamed of. None of this is the reason I’m here though. I wouldn’t even be mad if it were.
“Okay so, I’m in here because I ‘took someone’s life’ and deemed a criminal now, right?” I scoffed.
“Anything you say will be used against you in the court of law, Porter,” Muellen admonished me. “So you ought to watch it.”
The sun seemed only three feet above my head the way my body decided to burst into a sweat. It felt like I was working out with dumbbell’s wrapped around my ankles. I was drifting through the ocean and… Motion sickness started to kick in. I couldn’t bare what I’d just heard or the fact I am here. It’s evident; I’m about to pass…
Find out what’s in store for Daphne next week on Critique Press.
-Sincerely Keshia G