Chapter no 50 – NATALIE

The Coworker

I’VE NEVER SPENT the night in jail.

Obviously. I’m not the sort of person who gets hauled in by the police. I don’t get drunk and make a spectacle of myself in public. I don’t do drugs. In general, I follow all the laws to a T.

Yet here I am.

There’s something inhuman about being kept in a cage this way. It makes me feel less like a person and more like some sort of animal. It’s stifling. Claustrophobic.

I’m in a tiny cell with one other woman. She’s not much bigger than me, but she’s absolutely terrifying. She has pockmarks all over her face, and a jagged scar splitting one of her eyebrows in half. She has tattoos everywhere. She even has them on her neck. I once tried to get a tattoo, and I chickened out—and that was going to be a tiny heart on my shoulder blade. How gutsy do you have to be to let somebody tattoo a giant skull on your neck?

They shut off the lights inside the cell when it was time for bed, but they’re still on in the hallway right outside the bars. It’s these fluorescent lights that keep flickering—it’s even worse than the ones at work. I can’t sleep with that going on, but it’s not like I can ask them to shut the lights

out—plus this cell would be far more terrifying if it were pitch black. And the stench of urine is almost overpowering, to the point where I want to breathe through my mouth. The gray mystery meat I ate for dinner churns in my stomach.

When I got here, they gave me the option of changing out of my 5K T- shirt and running pants into a jumpsuit. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. But now I regret it. This jumpsuit is itching so much. I don’t know if it’s the detergent or what. At home, I use a hypoallergenic detergent, but I’m guessing the jail laundry doesn’t have that.

At least there’s a bed in the room so I don’t have to sleep on the floor, but I might as well be. There seems to be a mattress on the bed, but it’s not much better than a sleeping bag.

Also, it’s freezing. All they have given me is a paper-thin wool blanket that’s possibly itchier than the jumpsuit, yet I’m obscenely grateful to have it. I don’t even know how it’s so cold. The winter hasn’t even started yet. It’s got to be colder in here than it is outside.

I just want to sleep. Is that too much to hope for? “Hey. You.”

I roll my head in the direction of the other bed in the cell. It’s the woman with the neck tattoos.

“What?” I say.

“It’s cold in here,” she says.

“I know.” I shiver under the itchy wool blanket. “It’s freezing. Do you think we should tell the guard?”

The woman laughs. “Yeah, what do you think he’s going to do? Turn up the thermostat?”

“I don’t know…”

“Listen, I need your blanket.”

I shift on the poor excuse for a mattress. “What do you mean?” “I mean, I’m cold. I need your blanket.”

“But then I won’t have a blanket.” “Like I give a shit.”


The woman climbs out of her bed. She straightens up and crosses the small cell, and now I am absolutely terrified. She bends down close enough to me that I can smell her stale breath. She reaches out one arm, and I

flinch, sure she’s going to punch me in the face and break my nose. But instead, she grabs my blanket and yanks it clear off me.

If I was uncomfortable before, it’s a lot worse now. I didn’t realize how much warmth that skimpy blanket was providing me. Without it, I’m practically shaking. But my cellmate doesn’t care. I’m lucky she left me with my pillow, even though it’s flat as a pancake.

I lie on my back, still shivering, trying to get some sleep. This is going to be my life from now on. I don’t have enough money to make bail, so I’m stuck here until my trial. And if the trial goes as badly as my attorney has warned me it will, this could be the rest of my life.

Before I know it, tears are streaming down my cheeks. I don’t cry easily, but this last thing has broken me. Losing my itchy, crappy blanket has broken me. I wipe the tears away with the back of my hand, because it would be too much to hope for a tissue.

“Hey!” my cellmate snaps. “Keep it down over there! I’m trying to sleep.”

How did my life get to this point? I never laid a finger on Dawn. How could they think I would kill her? Why won’t anyone believe me?

You'll Also Like