Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination. In fact, a couple of them might be familiar from other stories I've written.
Warnings: Sex and love between women.
Spoiler Warning: This is a prequel to my soon-to-be-published novel "On the Air." While it doesn't really spoil anything that happens in the novel, it does give a bit of back story to one of the characters.
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at email@example.com. And many thanks to everyone who has sent me feedback for my past stories. You keep me coming back. Which is a nice way of saying you have only yourselves to blame for me continuing to return. ;-D
She kept her gaze locked on the guard's wide shoulders as they walked down the wide hall. "Hey. Little girl, look over here. Little girl!" She focused on the guard's shirt, on the seam that ran from one shoulder to the other. There was a loose thread, a chocolate-colored stain just below the collar. A few curly hairs stuck up from the collar of his white undershirt, implying he had a hairy back. Normally, this observation would have made her smile. Today, nothing could accomplish that.
He moved to the left and led her under a staircase that led to the second level. The cell door unlocked and slid aside and he turned to face her again. "In there."
There was already a woman inside, sitting on the top bunk with her back to the wall. She looked up from her magazine, her expression indifferent, and watched as the new arrival stepped into the cell. The girl hugged her bedroll and looked as if she was waiting to be introduced. Instead, the guard slammed the cell door shut behind her. She listened to his shoes squeak as he walked away and looked around the cell. The beds were to her right and there was a narrow desk to the left. There was just barely enough room between them for two people to stand side by side, but only if they rubbed shoulders.
Finally deciding she couldn't just stand in the doorway all day, the new prisoner walked up to the bunk beds. "I guess... I-I'm on the bottom bunk?"
The woman on the top bunk looked back down at her magazine.
She bent down and spread out her bedroll. The blanket felt hard and itchy; she didn't know how she'd be able to sleep on it. She lay down and curled on her side, staring at the wall and hugged herself. The woman on the top bunk shifted and the springs squeaked noisily. "Hell," she muttered. "What are you, twelve?"
"I'm ni-nineteen," she said defensively.
The woman on top scooted forward and dropped to the floor. She turned and rested her arms on the edge of her bunk, peering down at her new roommate's back. "What's your name?"
"What'd you do to get sent here?"
"Drugs," Amy said. She wiped at her eyes, refusing to turn and look at this... this stranger. "Possession with i-intent. 26 months."
"Elizabeth Hudson. Life. And speaking of life, I've been in here for most of yours. So unless you want to spend your whole two years curled up like that, stop your weeping and sit up."
Amy rolled onto her back and looked up at the woman. She had black hair, gray starting to encroach at the temples. She looked to be in her mid-forties. Tall, her standard-issue blue denim shirt unbuttoned over a white t-shirt. "What did you do?"
"Murder." She scoffed and turned to face the desk. "In about two hours, they're going to come get me to do the floors. Don't touch any of my shit while I'm gone."
Amy shook her head. "I've-I've never had anyone tell me..."
"You ever slept with anyone who could have told you?"
"Yes," Amy said. She looked down at the hem of her shirt, twisting it between her fingers.
Elizabeth sighed and picked a book up off the desk. She tossed it at Amy, who barely caught it between her hands. "Read."
"Read. Open to a page and read."
Amy frowned and opened the book to the middle. She cleared her throat and began to read. "'I listened to detect a woman's voice in the house, and filled the interim with wild regrets and dismal anticipations, which, at last, spoke audibly in i-irr-irrepressible...'"
"Okay, that's enough." Amy looked up and handed the book back to her. "Last girl they had in here couldn't even read. I'll put up with a lot, but I won't live with an illiterate." She put the book back on the desk and returned to her perch on the top bunk.
Amy listened as her new roommate - her cellmate - settled in and then closed her eyes. She could hear people down the corridor, other inmates shouting to one another from behind closed cell doors. She lifted one arm and laid it across her face, trying to block out the world, trying to deny she was really here.
A few days later, Amy was assigned to work at the prison library. She must have groaned at it when the guard showed her where she was supposed to be because he sighed. "If you don't like it, I'm sure they could use another pair of hands to scrub the toilets."
"No, it's fine."
"Glad you approve," he said. "Get to work."
She spent the day cataloguing and checking in books that other prisoners dropped in the front box. By the time she was escorted back to her cell, her arms ached from carrying piles of books back and forth from the stacks and her legs ached from standing all day. She got ink on her fingers from the book stamp and that brought back horrible memories of that crowded, dirty, ugly police station where she'd initially been booked. But still, she returned every day to do the work.
A week into her new job, she was pushing the cart around a shelf at the far corner of the library. She was focused on the Dewey decimal numbers of the books she was trying to shelve and almost didn't notice that she wasn't alone. She turned her head slightly and gasped at the sight. An inmate she'd never met was pressed against the back wall, her hands gripping the shelf behind her. Another woman was pressed tight against her, hand down the other woman's trousers.
Both women were gasping, the one in front thrusting her hips forward as her hand moved inside her partner's jeans. Amy was shocked into paralysis, holding the book against her chest and watching how the dominant woman's arm was moving. How the denim over her partner's crotch bulged and relaxed with the movement of her fingers. How...
"What the fuck are you staring at?" the woman against the shelf growled. "Get the fuck out of here, pervert."
Amy nearly knocked over the cart getting away. That night, she returned to her cell with the image of the liaison still burned on the back of her eyes. Elizabeth was on the top bunk, lying face-down with her hands under the pillow. Amy didn't say anything as she crawled onto her own bunk. She unzipped her jeans as quietly as she could and slid a hand inside, quickly masturbating as she pictured the scene in the library again. She put her other arm across her eyes and imagined it was her against the shelf, her being pleasured, her hips thrusting forward...
She must have fallen asleep, because the next thing she knew Elizabeth was nudging her shoulder. "Get up. Shower time."
Amy pushed herself up and quickly yanked her hand out of her pants. She blushed at the thought of Elizabeth seeing her, but said nothing as she grabbed the towel she'd gotten with her bedroll. The cell door opened and she fell into step behind Elizabeth. They and a dozen other women from their block walked in a single-file line to the showers.
They undressed mechanically, not bothering to look at one another and no one besides Amy, it seemed, feeling embarrassed about it. She held her towel in front of her waist as she shuffled to one of the showerheads mounted on the wall. She turned on the faucet and gasped as the cold water slapped against her left shoulder. She reached up and changed the angle on the faucet so that it hit her a little more evenly.
She searched for a bar of soap on the little ledge in front of her, but it was distressingly bare. She was nearly resigned to scrubbing up without soap when a hand landed on her shoulder. She turned and saw a middle-aged redhead standing behind her with a seemingly brand-new bar of soap in her hand. "Noticed you were missing something. Share and share alike, right?"
"Thank, uh... thank you," Amy said.
"Why don't I get your back for you, hon?" She turned Amy back towards the wall and rubbed the soap against Amy's shoulder.
Amy stood completely still, unsure what was expected of her. "I'm Amy," she said without turning around.
"Wanda," the woman said. She put her hand on Amy's hip and stepped close enough that her breasts were pressed against Amy's back. Her fingers tightened a bit and the soap moved around her waist. With her hand hovering near Amy's navel, Wanda said into her ear, "This is all right, right? Just getting clean?"
Amy closed her eyes and swallowed hard. She was about to spread her legs for the other woman's hand, but a sharp voice said, "Back up, Wanda."
Amy and Wanda both turned. Elizabeth was standing a few feet away, hair wet and her body wrapped in a towel.
"Thank Wanda for the soap, Amy," Elizabeth said, looking at Wanda with unblinking eyes.
"Thank you," Amy said in a meek voice.
Wanda stepped back and held her hands out in an innocent pose. "Just trying to get acquainted with her, that's all, Lizzy." She put the soap in Amy's hand and returned to her own showerhead.
Elizabeth waited until she was gone and looked at Amy. "You all right?"
"F-fine," Amy said tersely. She turned and lathered up her palms.
"Hey, don't get pissy at me. I did you a favor, girl. You know how many holes Wanda's fingers have been in this week alone? And I ain't just talking inmates. Some of these screws are twisted."
The remark didn't get the intended smile from Amy, so Elizabeth gave up. "Fine. See if I save your ass again."
Amy listened to the slapping of Elizabeth's bare feet across the bare tile. When she was gone. She put one hand against the lime green tile of the wall and slipped the other between her legs to do what Wanda had offered to take care of for her.
When the guards collected them, Amy returned the soap to Wanda to show there were no hard feelings. Truthfully, she hoped she was giving the other woman an opening to try again. Maybe some day when Elizabeth wasn't around to stop her. She was silent all the way back to her cell, livid at Elizabeth 'saving' her. Who said she needed saving? She was old enough to be sent to prison, she was old enough to fend for herself, right?
She refused to look at Elizabeth the rest of the night, acknowledging her presence only when they stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the cell door for the final count. Elizabeth, pissed at being ignored all night by the only person she had to keep her company, snapped, "Next time Wanda wants to fuck you, I'll just stand back and practice my 'I-told-you-so.'"
"Good," Amy said.
"Maybe next time it'll be in the laundry room. Couple of those girls get off on hurting, you know." She caught the slight tensing of Amy's posture. "Oh, yeah. You may just be looking to get off, get a quick come, but you need to be careful who you let touch you."
"I ju-just wanted... you know."
"I do know. And I know that if you'd let Wanda do it, Tina would've been next tomorrow. Benny on Wednesday. You would've probably had a double-header on Thursday... See, once it gets out that you spread your legs for no reason? You don't get to close 'em."
Amy looked down at her hands.
"Good night, ladies," the guard called when the count was done.
The lights in the corridor dimmed - they never went all the way down, for the obvious reasons, and the other prisoners shuffled to their bunks. Amy remained at the door as Elizabeth climbed into her bed. "E-Elizabeth?"
"Thank you." She turned and walked to her bed, crawling under the covers and bunching her pillow up against the wall. She squeezed her eyes closed, prayed there wouldn't be any cockroaches under her blankets tonight, and struggled to fall asleep.
She was almost out when she heard a whisper above her. It almost sounded like "You're welcome."
The monotony checking in and re-shelving books was broken by every other Tuesday when she would load up the cart and make the rounds to the cells. The left-hand side of the cart was loaded with books that had been requested and a few new releases. The right-hand side was left as empty as possible so people could send the books they were done with back. One of the wheels squeaked as she pushed the cart down the wide, bright corridor and stopped in front of the first cell. "Library cart," she said.
"No books here," the woman inside muttered.
Amy didn't know if she was denying having anything checked out or just stating a life philosophy. She looked at the print-out in her hand, double-checked the spray-painted number above the door and cleared her throat. "Um... a-according to this, you checked out a Nancy Drew...?"
The woman - a beefy woman with slate-gray hair and cold eyes - looked up. "I look like I read that kiddy crap? Get the fuck out of my cell."
Amy glanced at the desk and saw the book sticking out from a sheaf of papers. "Well... maybe... your cellmate. I mean, the book is... it's right..." She stepped forward and lifted the book. The papers covering it fell to the floor and Amy bent to pick them up. All the sheets were covered with short, childlike sentences. The letters were sloppy and big. "Did your kids write you?" Amy asked.
From nowhere, the woman bellowed, "Get your hands off my shit!"
Amy jerked and dropped the notes. She spun and saw the woman coming off her bunk like a vulture swooping down on her. "I-I-I was just..."
The woman swung a meaty fist and caught Amy just under the eye. The woman shoved Amy into the wall and punched her again. Amy shrieked and brought both arms up in a futile attempt to protect herself. The woman grabbed a handful of Amy's shirt and hurled her back out of the cell. Amy stumbled and slammed into the corner of the library cart. The edge of the cart was sharp and it felt like someone had shoved a knife into her gut.
She hunched over, holding her stomach and struggling not to cry. When she turned, the Nancy Drew book hit her in the face. She fumbled to catch it and managed to hold it by two fingers before it fell to the floor. "Book sucked anyway," the woman said. She turned and went back to her bunk.
Amy placed the book on the shelf with trembling hands and pushed the cart on. She made it through her rounds, gathering up the books she needed and waiting patiently as people chose other selections. She marked down the cell, the name and the book checked out and continued on. She felt her eye swelling, kept holding her eyebrow where it was bleeding and managed to shake off anyone who seemed concerned for her. Not that there were many asking; they hardly ever even looked at her face.
When she finished, she took the cart back to the library and tore off her name tag. "I'm quitting."
The guard frowned.
"I don't care," she said, as if he'd made a comment. "Bathroom duty, kitchen, whatever. I'm not coming back here. You can take your books and shove them." She tilted the cart over and spilled their contents onto the floor. "I fucking quit."
The guard grabbed her by the arm and she tried to pull away. "I fucking hate this place! I'm never coming back to this fucking place!" She ripped her arm free and stormed over to the books she'd spilled. She stomped on their covers, her plain white sneakers tearing pages from them as she danced around. "Fuck you!" she screaming, seemingly talking to the books now. "Fuck you! Fuck you!"
She spun around and swung her arm in a wide arc. Through pure, dumb luck, her fingernails raked across the guard's cheek. His eyes flashed and he spun her around, slamming her against the check-out desk with all of his 350 pounds. He pinned her arm behind her back and grabbed a handful of her hair. "Smart, Wellis," he hissed into her ear. "Real smart."
Amy returned to her cell seven days later. Small though it might be, it was a far sight better than the solitary cell. Her bruises had faded to a patchwork of purple and yellow, her split lip on the way to mending. Elizabeth barely looked up as the guard shoved Amy into the cell and slammed the door behind her. Amy's eyes were wide and wet, her jaw trembling. Elizabeth closed her book and sat up, letting her legs drape over the edge of the bed. "How long?"
"Twenty months," Amy said. There was no strength behind the words; they were just a naked sigh. "Twenty more months."
That brought her sentence to just less than four years. She shuffled to the bottom bunk and lay down, curled up and facing the wall. She heard the springs squeak as Elizabeth moved to the other side of the bunk and dropped to the floor. Elizabeth put her hand on Amy's shoulder and tried to think of something soothing to say. Something better than "it's twenty damn months, you little baby, try doing seventy damn years."
Instead, she just kept her hand on Amy's shoulder, moving it in slow circles as she cried.
Greta Yarborough sat on a rough, wooden bench near the fence, frowning down at the book she'd gotten from the library. Egg-it? Egg-ut. She moved her lips as she tried to form the word on the page. E-I-G-H-T. A shadow fell over her and she closed the book quickly. She looked up at the intruder and said, "Get the hell out of here."
Elizabeth Hudson moved one step higher and slammed her fist forward like a piston. It cracked against Greta's face, knocking her off the bench and making her drop her book to the ground. Greta sputtered and, before she could get a chance to retaliate, Elizabeth's fist slammed into her face again. Greta wailed as blood flowed over her top lip.
"She was just a fucking kid," Elizabeth hissed. She lunged and Greta cringed, whimpering.
Elizabeth turned and walked away, leaving Greta spluttering and weeping on the ground with both hands cupped over her face. She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her pants, casually eyeing the yard as she walked back to the lunch line.
Meat loaf today, she noted with a slight smile. She liked meat loaf.
Amy had been as useless as a lump since returning from solitary. She seemed bound and determined to spend her now-doubled sentence in the fetal position on her cot. Elizabeth checked her hair in the mirror and turned, saying one last time, "Get up." Amy didn't move. Elizabeth reached down and grabbed the collar of Amy's shirt. She hauled her off the cot and dumped her on the floor like the pile of dirty laundry she was pretending to be.
"Bitch!" Amy howled.
Elizabeth hooked her hands under Amy's arms and hoisted her to her feet. She slammed Amy against the metal frame of their bunk and straightened her shirt. Amy growled, but didn't fight any more. Her bruises were almost healed, her lip back to normal now. The cell door opened and a guard stood to one side, hands hooked on his belt. "You ladies coming to movie night?"
"Yes, sir, Mr. Tower. Just making sure we're presentable for you fine gentlemen tonight."
He smirked and walked away.
Elizabeth turned back to Amy. "It's Jodie Foster tonight. You even think about getting me thrown out of a Jodie Foster movie and I'll beat you worse than Greta could even think of doing."
Confusion clouded the anger on Amy's face. "How'd you... who told you it was...?"
"Shut up," Elizabeth said. Her words were harsh, but her tone was anything but. She hooked her arm around Amy's elbow and walked her out of the cell. As they walked towards the movie room, Elizabeth added, "If you've seen Little Man Tate, don't ruin it for the rest of us."
The movie room was basically the rec room with a movie projector and a big screen rolled out where the TV usually stood. A sea of gray folding chairs had taken the place of the couch and armchairs. Elizabeth got a good seat near the middle of the 'theater' and Amy, unsure of what else to do, sat next to her.
Greta shuffled in, her nose buried beneath a big gray metal contraption. Tape spread out across her forehead and cheeks, holding it in place and framing her two black eyes. She saw Elizabeth and immediately changed direction. Although Elizabeth didn't acknowledge the exchange, Amy suddenly realized how Elizabeth knew who had hurt her. She tightened her arms around Elizabeth's and waited for the rest of the audience to take their seats.
"Damn," Elizabeth said later that night. "Jodie Foster. You know?"
Amy smiled weakly. "Yeah..."
They were lying in their beds after lights out. Amy had undressed down to her t-shirt and the stiff boxers the prison provided. She was on top of her blankets due to the warm night. They didn't have a window, adding to the stuffiness of their little slice of Hell.
"You know she directed that movie? She starred in it, directed it... I think she wrote it, too."
Amy knew for a fact someone else had written it, and Jodie only directed because someone else stepped down, but she didn't want Elizabeth to think she was bad-mouthing the actress. It was a great movie and she'd done a great job. So all she said was, "Uh-huh."
A few minutes passed and Elizabeth didn't say anything else. Amy assumed she'd fallen asleep and linked her fingers behind her head. The springs above her shifted and she heard cloth sliding against cloth. She frowned and, a breath later, the mattress a few feet above her head began to rock slightly. Back and forth, the springs quietly protesting the repetitive movement.
Amy's heart pounded against her chest as she realized what Elizabeth was doing. She thought about coughing, clearing her throat, saying something. She only stopped because she realized doing so would most likely make Elizabeth stop what she was doing. Carefully, all too aware of how the mattress could give you away, Amy moved her hand to her thigh. She scratched just below the leg of her boxers.
Elizabeth was masturbating just above her head. How many nights had this happened before? How many nights had Amy slept on, oblivious? She cupped her mound through her boxers and circled with the middle two fingers. She parted her legs, planting the heels of her feet in the mattress. She bit her bottom lip and wondered if Elizabeth had pushed her boxers down. Was she up there, right now, pussy bared to the world? Was she thrusting her fingers deep inside and...
"Aoh," she gasped, her shoulders trembling as she came.
"Amy?" The springs stopped.
"Mm," Amy muttered. "Ba-bad dream."
The springs shifted and Amy knew Elizabeth was now curled on her side. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on falling asleep. Tried to focus on unconsciousness and sleep and dreams. Soon enough it would come. It had always worked when she was a girl. It had always... worked wonders...
The yard was always a welcome site after the dreariness of her stretch in solitary. Amy sat on the metal bleachers against the prison wall, her knees pulled up tight to her chest, watching as everyone milled about or exercised. She saw Elizabeth a few times, rounding the dirt running track. Amy just rested her head against the hard stone prison wall and closed her eyes. The sun was hot on her face, burning her skin through her clothes. It felt remarkable; the sun, the wind. She really, really wanted to climb a tree, but she assumed that was frowned upon by the guards.
A few minutes later, she heard the hollow clanking sounds of someone coming onto the bleachers. She opened her eyes and straightened her back, on her guard now after the debacle with Greta. Fortunately, it was just Elizabeth returning from the track. "What are you doing?" she asked, out of breath from her run.
"Run with me," Elizabeth said. Amy didn't immediately rise, so Elizabeth said, "Come on. You gonna spend all your time here sitting around gaining weight? Might as well rejoin the world a little buff."
Amy pushed away from the wall and reluctantly stood. She followed Elizabeth off the bleachers and plodded along behind her as they returned to the track. They ran for a few minutes in silence before Amy couldn't take it anymore. "The yard is nice..."
"Grove," Elizabeth said over her shoulder. "Prison Grove." She shrugged and smiled. "It's what the ladies have been calling it for as long as I've been here."
Amy looked around. There were a few small trees - well away from the fence, of course - but other than that... "This has to be the most barren grove I've ever seen in my life."
Elizabeth barked a laugh. They fell into a comfortable pace before Elizabeth spoke again. "What are you going to do when you get out?"
Amy panted, "Haven't... thought about it."
Elizabeth chuckled. "Well, start thinking. Four years may seem like a long time right now, but you'll be free before you know it. You need to have something lined up." She started jogging and Amy fell in behind her so as not to be left behind. "What were you doing before you got busted?"
Amy lowered her head and watched her feet pound the dirt track.
"Right," Elizabeth said. "Well, what are your interests? Hobbies? Things you did in high school?"
"I mostly just survived. Barely."
"You even finish?"
Amy didn't answer.
"Well, you could study towards your GED. You can't just run your whole life." She looked over her shoulder. "You were running, right? When you got caught? How far'd you get? Out of the state? Did you get out of the state at least?"
"No." She had made it to the Canadian border, not that far from where she'd started, but she had almost immediately turned around and started south. Even then she'd only made it to the other side of the state before she ran out of money and had to get by somehow. Enter Lee. Enter drugs, smoking pot and wondering how long she could keep turning down the cocaine before she gave in and tried that, too.
"Look, you're young. It may seem like the end of the world now, but this could be like college for you." Amy scoffed. "I mean it. A chance to figure things out, get your life in order and be ready for the real world when they cut you loose. Wish to God I had that chance myself."
Amy felt the words on her tongue and almost asked them out loud. 'Who did you kill?' She didn't doubt Elizabeth could kill someone, but it seemed so... unlike her. Instead of asking, she bowed her head and continued to run. They'd managed to do three laps before the hack called out, "Yard's closed, ladies. Go back to your cells."
Elizabeth broke into a trot and Amy followed her across the yard. They filed through the door, past the guard who idly counted them as the trudged by. Her legs were sore from running and she was out of breath. Her t-shirt was sticky and she eagerly looked forward to being led down to the showers soon.
Ever since Elizabeth's 'defense' of her, no one had dared even look at her in the shower. In retrospect, she was glad. She didn't want to become known as the block's bicycle, didn't want to give everyone a turn. But maybe just one person. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? She sighed and followed Elizabeth into their cell.
Elizabeth took off her denim shirt and fanned herself with the collar of her t-shirt. Amy wished for a bottle of water or, better yet, a beer. As Amy sat on her bunk, Elizabeth peeled off her sweaty t-shirt and tossed it onto her own bunk. Amy had to stifle a gasp as Elizabeth dug through her bag for a clean shirt. All Amy could see was from mid-chest down; that was enough. Her stomach was lean and toned from her exercise regimen. She was wearing a simple white bra, the straps straining as she stretched for a clean shirt.
Amy couldn't take her eyes off Elizabeth's breasts and was glad when a clean white shirt fell over them and broke the spell. She looked away and scooted to the back of her bunk.
Elizabeth, unaware of the display she'd been putting on, turned to the desk and picked up her library book. "Do you know if the library has any Stephen King?"
"Not when I was working there," Amy said. "Too violent."
"Damn. If ever I could use The Green Mile." She smiled and said, "You want me to grab something for you?"
"I hate books," Amy said with a shake of her head.
"What'd a book ever do to you?"
"Not the books," Amy said. She shook her head at Elizabeth's look. "I'm fine. Thank you."
Elizabeth shrugged and left the cell.
Amy stretched out and, after a moment, slipped under her horrible and thin blanket. She undid her trousers and slid a hand into her underwear. She closed her eyes, picturing Elizabeth's breasts, the slight shine of sweat on her upper chest and belly. She imagined kissing her, pulling that bra off and seeing her nipples. She hunched her shoulders and pressed her head into the mattress as she slipped a finger into herself.
"Damn crowded," Elizabeth said suddenly. "I'll go back when it's not quite..."
Amy gasped and jerked her hand away, crawling to the far side of her bed and trying to surreptitiously wipe her hand on her jeans under the blanket. Elizabeth was frozen just inside the cell door, obviously aware of what had been going on. "Sorry about that," she said, sounding only a little uncomfortable. "You want me to come back in a few?"
Amy shook her head quickly. She gathered the blanket in front of her and blushed, wishing she could fasten her jeans without being obvious about it. Elizabeth shrugged and went to the desk. She sat down with her back to the beds and began writing. Amy took the opportunity to button her pants, but she remained huddled in the back corner of her bed.
"You didn't have to stop," Elizabeth suddenly said.
"What?!" Amy said.
Elizabeth shrugged, not bothering to turn around. "Hell, girl. I've been in here fifteen years. You think I've never seen my cell mate fingering herself? God knows you must've heard me a couple nights." Amy blushed. "Do what you need."
Amy couldn't have masturbated now if her fingers could vibrate. She threw the blankets aside and got off the bed. "I'm going for a walk."
"Hey," Elizabeth said softly. Amy stopped in the doorway, unable to turn and face Elizabeth. "That's your bed. This is your room. I don't know where you think you'll do it if not right here. I'm telling you right now, it doesn't bother me. Might as well get your rocks off when you can."
Amy chewed her bottom lip. She leaned against the bars, breathing hard. Finally, she turned and walked back to her bed. She took off her pants and slipped under the blankets. She kept looking over at Elizabeth, but she was engrossed in the letter she was writing. Amy closed her eyes, tried to stay as quiet as possible despite Elizabeth telling her it was no problem.
She came quickly, despite her embarrassment, and wiped her fingers on the blanket. She rolled onto her side, facing the wall, and closed her eyes. It was still at least two hours until lights out, but she couldn't bear to face Elizabeth after that.
She tried her best to ignore Elizabeth entirely, but it was impossible given the amount of space they shared. The guards announced it was time for the showers and they walked to the bathroom together. "Sorry if I embarrassed you," Elizabeth said.
Amy shook her head. She kept her back to Elizabeth as they undressed and walked quickly to an available showerhead. She scrubbed up quickly - using the soap she'd bought herself in the prison store - and tried to block out the sights and sounds of everyone around her. Over a dozen naked, wet women surrounded her, the majority of them sexually frustrated just like her. God, she could practically feel it! The ones who were bolder used the showers as a hunting ground and Amy could feel their eyes on her ass.
Her earlier acceptance of Elizabeth as her knight in shining armor faded as her arousal grew. God, why had Elizabeth butted in that first day? So what if Wanda was a whore. That just meant she'd had everyone except for Amy. And God, Amy wanted to be had. She turned off the shower, toweled off and left the bathroom. She carried her toiletries back to the cell and dressed in a long t-shirt. She didn't bother with underwear; it was starting to get too hot for that anyway. She crawled under the blankets and pulled them up over her head.
She dozed fitfully, aware of when Elizabeth returned and climbed into her own bed but not waking. After lights out, she pushed the blanket down and rolled off her mattress. She stood up and looked at Elizabeth. She was lying on top of her blanket, arm thrown across her eyes to block out the ambient light from the corridor outside. She wore a plain white tank-top and white boxer shorts, the underwear every woman in this place was forced to wear.
"Elizabeth," Amy said softly.
Elizabeth jerked slightly, pulled from sleep and lifted her arm. "Christ. Go to bed."
"You said you'd... listened."
"You said you'd listened to your... cellmates. And that they listened to you. Did... you ever... do it at the same time?" She felt like her heart was going to explode. Her hands were shaking and she put them on the edge of Elizabeth's bed to still them.
Elizabeth blinked at her. "Yes," she said. She didn't bother to elaborate.
"Would you... w-would you with me?"
"You've never had sex, have you?" Elizabeth asked.
Amy hung her head and hoped her bangs hid her eyes.
"Go back to bed, Amy."
"No," Amy said. She bit her bottom lip and climbed the ladder into Elizabeth's bed. Elizabeth sat up and glared at her. Amy knelt next to Elizabeth's feet and folded her hands together between her thighs. "Before I left home, there was an older woman. A teacher. We... touched. And kissed. But we never did anything. Not before we were caught. I left home right after. I hooked up with some people while I was running, but we never had sex. I... I can't take it here, Elizabeth." Her cheeks were wet now, her hands shaking between her legs.
Elizabeth sighed. "Would you want me if we were outside? If you had a choice?"
Amy went with the truth. "I don't know." She put her hand on Elizabeth's leg and said, "But I know we're here. And I do want you. I haven't... bothered to ask why."
Elizabeth scooted to one side and said, "Lie down here. Next to me." Elizabeth rolled onto her side so that she was facing Amy. She took her hand and slid it down Amy's chest, pausing to find her nipples through the thin fabric. "We have to be quiet."
Amy nodded quickly.
With a final glance at the corridor, Elizabeth lifted one leg and put her hand between them. Amy pulled up the hem of her t-shirt and touched her naked pussy. She gasped and arched her back and Elizabeth quietly said, "Sh, sh." Amy opened her eyes and looked down. Elizabeth was touching herself through her boxers, using her index and middle finger to trace slow circles on the stiff fabric.
Amy went slow, wanting to drag this out as long as possible. All night, if she could. But Elizabeth had other ideas. "Come," she breathed. "Come as quick as you can. If the screw sees you up here instead of in your own bed..."
Amy whimpered at the reminder of being trapped here, of being a rat in a cage. "I-I... what if I can't...?"
Elizabeth gently pulled Amy's hand away from her crotch. There was a scrape of fingernails like fire through her pubic hair and then Elizabeth's fingers were spreading her. Amy's eyes popped open, her bottom lip quaking as Elizabeth's finger dipped in, then out of her. The first woman to be inside of her, the first finger other than her own to touch her like this and Amy was catatonic. She thrust her hips against Elizabeth's hand, making the bed squeak, and came.
The orgasm was finished almost as soon as she realized it had started. "No," she whispered as Elizabeth withdrew her hand. "Do it again. Please, Elizabeth..."
"Not now," Elizabeth said. "Go back to bed."
"Please," Amy whined.
Elizabeth slid her hand to the back of Amy's neck and drew her close. She kissed her lips, caressed them gently with her tongue and then pulled back. "Get off this bunk. Go! Before someone sees you."
Amy tugged her t-shirt back into place and crawled to the ladder. She retreated to her own bed and stretched out facedown on top of the blanket. "Thank you," she said into her pillow, loud enough that Elizabeth could hear.
A few nights later, the heat wave had hit its apex. Guards walked through the halls with sweat stains growing under their arms. The inmates found their own ways to keep cool; small plastic fans were a hotter commodity than cigarettes for the one time in Elizabeth's memory. After a rumor starting circulating that solitary was air conditioned, a few women tried to get 'punished' and sent there. When they returned, they revealed that the truth was the hole was hotter than anywhere else in the prison; the air conditioning rumor had been started by the guards.
At night was the worst. The heat clung to the flesh, holding on even as the day was supposed to cool down. The inmates lay on their bunks, staying as still as they could, trying to let the heat from their bodies evaporate into the atmosphere. The clockwork rounds the guards made every night had dwindled. Usually done every three hours, the interval had stretched until they were basically walking by at dusk and dawn and assuming none of the prisoners wanted to move any more than they did.
Amy turned her head to the side. Her hair stuck to her forehead and cheeks, her skin flush with the heat. "Yeah?"
"I've been through this kind of thing before. It's a little cooler if you undress."
Amy was willing to try anything. She slid her boxers down her legs and peeled her tank top away from her flesh. When she lay back down, the sheet felt slightly cooler. "Thank you," she said softly. She hesitated for a second and then said, "Elizabeth?"
"A-are you... are you naked?"
Amy slid her hand between her breasts, gathering droplets of sweat on her fingertips. "I'm running my... my hand down to my stomach." There were tears in her eyes and she wasn't sure why. Whether it was fear of Elizabeth telling her to go to sleep or just the desperation she felt at that moment. There was a squeak as Elizabeth shifted on the mattress above her. "My knees are bent," Amy continued, hoping to drown out any refusal from Elizabeth.
"Yeah," Amy said, closing her eyes, bracing herself.
"My hand is between my legs."
Amy's eyes snapped open and she pushed her fingers through her pubic hair. "Yeah?" Amy whispered. "I'm so... s-so wet."
"I want you to stroke yourself. Imagine it's my fingers between your legs. Circle your clit. Is it hard?"
"Uh-huh," Amy said. Her voice was shaking with want.
"Tell me, Amy."
"It's hard," she whispered. "I whu-want you."
The bed shifted and Amy gasped. Elizabeth's legs appeared over the edge of the bed and she dropped down on the floor. As promised, she was naked. Her pubic hair was dark and wild, a shadow between her legs as she crawled into bed with Amy. Amy was trembling, her hand frozen where it was. Elizabeth folded herself over Amy like a blanket, their sweat-soaked skin sticking together as she straddled Amy's thighs.
"Say it again," Elizabeth breathed.
It took Amy a second to remember what she had said, and then another second to determine what Elizabeth wanted her to repeat. She swallowed, her eyes wide and pupils dilated. "I want you. I want you."
Elizabeth rearranged herself, slipping one leg between Amy's. Amy whimpered and arched her back as Elizabeth's sweat-slick thigh slid along her pussy. Elizabeth bowed her head and kissed and licked Amy's neck, nuzzling her ear and sucking the lobe as she began to rock against the younger girl. Amy made quick, quiet sounds, saying half-words and struggling to keep her eyes open.
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around Amy and pulled her closer, digging her fingers into Amy's ass. She angled her shoulder at Amy's face and Amy obediently bit down on the offered flesh rather than cry out and alert their neighbors. The heels of Amy's feet kicked and pushed as the sheet, the entire world feeling like it was trembling as Elizabeth rose above her like a goddess from Mount Olympus.
"Touch me," Elizabeth said.
Amy touched her trembling hands to Elizabeth's shoulders. Elizabeth arched her back and Amy's hands slid down to her breasts. She held them, caressed them, pinched the hard nipples with her fingers and felt tears burning her eyes. She was making love to a woman. The thought was enough to push her over the edge. She whimpered and bucked against Elizabeth's thigh, her own legs squeezing like a vice. Her teeth clenched and her body went rigid. "Fuck!" she said, crying the word, feeling every letter with every molecule.
When she finally sagged to the mattress, Elizabeth fell with her. She felt kissed all over her face, breath blowing across her eyelashes and cooling the sweat on her face. She turned her head and caught Elizabeth's lips with her own, hungrily taking her tongue. When Elizabeth rolled to one side, Amy said, "You didn't... you didn't, um..."
"Yes, I did," Elizabeth whispered. She kissed Amy's eyelashes and stroked her cheek. "I'm going back to my bed."
"Why?" Amy almost whined.
"If the screws see us like this, we'll never hear the end of it. If they even let us stay in the same cell." She lifted herself and crawled over Amy. Amy shivered at the brush of flesh-against-flesh and felt a shiver at the contact. She watched Elizabeth climb up the ladder, getting a few heart-quickening glimpses between her legs in the process, and then rolled onto her side.
She put her hands between her legs and touched herself. She closed her eyes and imagined she could still feel Elizabeth there against her, feel the warmth of her thigh and the thrust of her hips as she fucked her slowly, tenderly, like... "Ah!" Amy gasped. Her body jerked and she came again, her fingers just barely touching her clit. She gaped down at herself and then chuckled quietly.
"Good night, Amy," Elizabeth said from above her.
"Good night, Elizabeth."
With Elizabeth's help, Amy got the study materials required to get her GED. They sat together at the tiny desk in the cell, Amy studying while Elizabeth exchanged correspondence with her lawyer. One night, stalled on a Social Studies workbook, Amy tapped her pencil against the edge of the table and stared at Elizabeth for a long time. Finally, she said, "Who did you kill?"
Elizabeth looked up sharply, her eyes flashing with anger. "What?"
Amy immediately cowed. "I'm sorry. I... I've been wondering since you... since you-you said..." She closed her eyes and looked down at her worksheet. "I can't imagine you killing anybody. And you said you were here for murder, so..."
Elizabeth leaned back and pushed her hands through her hair. Amy noticed that the salt-and-pepper was gradually becoming more of an ash-gray. She sighed and said, "There was a girl involved. As there always is. Some guy was harassing her. I asked him to stop. He called me and her a few names which, while being true, are also not very flattering." She fiddled with the eraser of her pencil.
"The next night, he found us while we were out dancing. He tried to pull her into his car. I broke his wrist, threw him onto the gravel and punched him. His head hit the pavement and..." She shrugged. "I was trained in tai kwon do and his family's lawyer insisted my hands be treated as deadly weapons."
"You were protecting your girlfriend."
Elizabeth shrugged and smiled sadly. "Jury didn't see it that way. Dyke versus all-American football star. The girl in the middle was little Miss Homecoming Queen. Guess who they believed she was going to go home with. And no, before you ask, she didn't stick up for me. She wasn't exactly out to her family and... a courtroom is no place to make that announcement."
Amy was sorry she'd asked.
"She's been to visit. Twice in the years I've been here. I think she feels guilty because she knows what he was planning to do to her. And she knows what she did to me by not standing up for me in court."
"Surely you can appeal."
Elizabeth shrugged. "I've been through it enough times to know no one is going to listen to me."
Amy frowned at the books stacked on Elizabeth's side of the table, at the letter she had half-written. "Then why do you still send your lawyer things you've found in these law books?"
She smiled sadly. "I was taught to go down fighting. And that's just what I intend to do... no matter how dim the odds might be."
Amy smiled and looked down at her own study test. "Go down fighting, huh?"
"Nose to the grindstone, Miss Wellis," Elizabeth said.
At night, between passes by the guards, one of them would occasionally slip into the other's bed. Usually it was Amy seeking Elizabeth, crawling under the covers and kissing her until she woke up. Amy nearly died that first month under Elizabeth's knowing tongue, against her expert fingers. And to her eyes, her own fumbling touches were awkward and embarrassing. She would touch Elizabeth, but Elizabeth would grimace and shift her angle slightly.
"I'm sorry," Amy hissed.
"It's all right," Elizabeth always reassured her.
Amy nodded and bit her lip, working two fingers gently into Elizabeth's pussy. "Is that...?"
"You're doing fine," Elizabeth said. "I'm almost there."
Amy thrust her fingers gently and, when Elizabeth nodded, withdrew. She felt embarrassed; she always felt like she was going to knock the bunk over when Elizabeth was touching her. But when she was touching Elizabeth, it was like a chore. Something to get done. Amy lay down next to Elizabeth and looked into her eyes. "I'm not a good lover," she said quietly.
Elizabeth cupped Amy's face. "You're inexperienced. It's all right."
Amy brushed away Elizabeth's hand and crawled down to the ladder. Elizabeth watched her go and sighed as she pulled her boxers back up. She listened to Amy settle into the bottom bunk and decided they couldn't just wait until Amy got the hang of it. Something had to be done.
Jonah Tower leaned against the concrete wall, thumbs hooked in his belt. He wished he had a piece of hay to chew, maybe some mirrored sunglasses to complete the image he had in his mind. He watched as the women milled around the yard and kept one eye on the clock to make sure they didn't get any extra time in the sun. Letting them out in the yard was too close to freedom for his tastes. But he supposed they had human rights, even if they were criminals. So he led them out, let them run the track or sit in the sun. But the minute their time was up, he was corralling them like sheep. Sometimes he got away with sending them back in a minute or two early, but he didn't try his luck. Didn't want to be slapped with a complaint on his record if the women got pissed.
He turned to his left and saw one of the inmates standing next to him. Hudson. How the hell had she gotten so close? He straightened his spine and tried to cover his unease. "What do you want, Hudson?"
She stepped closer and held up her hand. Tucked against the palm was a hundred-dollar bill, Benjamin Franklin's face staring out at him. He hated the new design of the bills, but they still sent a thrill through him. Prisoners weren't supposed to have much more than ten bucks for the prison store, and even that was doled out in quarters most of the time. He raised his eyebrows but didn't say anything.
She lowered her hand and said, "Coffee room."
She gestured with the bill. "Ben doesn't think so."
"Ben needs back-up."
Hudson scowled and scanned the yard. "Only back-up he has is a couple guys named George."
Tower raised an eyebrow. A hundred bucks was one thing. Someone's last hundred bucks was infinitely more valuable. "How long?"
Hudson turned back to face him. "Two hours."
"No way," he said.
"Middle of the night," Hudson said. "You can say we broke the rules, we're spending the night in solitary."
"My cell mate."
His eyes were trained on the hand holding the hundred. He reached out and took her hand as if he planned to shake it. The money slipped from her palm to his. He used his other hand to shove her towards the yard. "Get outta here, Hudson. Eleven minutes left in the yard."
As she walked away, she glanced at her watch. They still had half an hour left before they had to return to their cell. The eleven minutes was code; she'd have to make sure she and Amy were ready to go by 11 PM.
That night, they stood shoulder to shoulder at the cell door to be counted. "Good night, ladies," the hack called as the lights dimmed.
Amy hesitated as they walked back to the bunk. "Should... sh-should we...?"
"Not right now," Elizabeth said. She crawled into her bunk and said, "You should be ready to go at a moment's notice. All right?"
Elizabeth shook her head and glanced at the cell door. She didn't want to chance their neighbors overhearing. Amy stripped down to her underwear as she always did and lay on top of her blankets. She wasn't sure what Elizabeth was talking about... unless the guards were moving her to a new cell during the night. God, was she that bad in bed? That Elizabeth wouldn't even want her around anymore? She fought the urge to cry and covered her face with a pillow.
After dozing for what felt like mere seconds, the cell door clanged open. Amy jumped and dropped her pillow. "What the hell is this, Hudson?" Tower barked. Amy shuddered and cowed in the corner of her bunk, hoping the shadows hid her from his fury. "How long have you had these cigarettes? Dumb bitch. Get out of bed. Now!"
Elizabeth's feet appeared on the ladder and Tower yanked her to the floor. She hissed, "Easy..." and straightened, putting her back against the bunk frame.
Tower bent down and shone his flashlight in Amy's face. "Out," he barked. "Now."
Amy scurried forward, eager to avoid him yanking her out as well. She stood next to Elizabeth, trembling and unsure what was happening. What cigarettes? What the fuck was Tower doing? He wasn't even searching the cell. He just kept his hands on his belt and looked between them with a weird smile on his face. He nodded with his chin towards the cell door. "Night in solitary's better than one of them nicotine patches."
"No," Elizabeth said.
"Forty-eight hours is even better," he said. "Wanna try for that?"
Elizabeth pressed her lips together and argued no further. He gestured at the door. "March. Now."
Amy followed close behind Elizabeth, feeling Tower behind her. As they walked down the wide corridor, she felt completely naked in her boxer shorts and tank top. Elizabeth was wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt; obviously what she had meant by 'be ready to go.' Amy resisted the urge to press herself against Elizabeth's back and ignored the pale, amused faces peering out of the shadows in the cells they passed.
They reached the solitary cells where Amy had spent one miserable week... and kept going. Tower unlocked a door and ushered them through with his flashlight. Amy frowned, but Elizabeth seemed to know what was happening. Alone with no other prisoners to observe them, Amy wrapped her fingers around the hem of Elizabeth's shirt. They were in the guard's section now, off-limits. If they were sent to solitary for imaginary cigarettes, what would being here get them?
Tower unlocked another door and stepped inside. He turned on the lights, fluorescent bulbs that took a moment to flicker to life, and looked around. Amy peered over Elizabeth's shoulder. There was a couch underneath a barred window, a cigarette-scarred coffee table and a counter with dirty mugs and an ancient coffee-maker. A TV/VCR combo stood in the corner with stacks of black VHS tapes around it. In the corner of the room there was a spare bed folded in half, the kind you could get at motels.
Tower pulled a magazine from the rack on the inside of the door and thumbed through it. He smiled at them and gestured at the couch. "Two hours, ladies. Make 'em count." He stepped past them and pulled the door closed.
"What's happening?" Amy whispered.
Elizabeth turned and said, "I bribed him to let us use this room. The guards do it sometimes... I think they get their jollies over helping us have sex."
Amy blushed and looked around.
Elizabeth took Amy's hand and guided her to the couch. Amy sat down and tried not to think of how many guards and inmates had been naked here. Elizabeth went to the TV and chose a tape off the stack. She put it in the VCR and hit play. As she walked back to the couch, the television came to life with scenes from a pornographic movie.
Amy's eyes widened. "Oh..."
"It's okay," Elizabeth said. She leaned in and kissed Amy's neck. Amy's eyes drifted closed, but she forced them open to keep one eye on the screen. "It's just to get us started," Elizabeth whispered. She slipped her hand between Amy's legs and eased them apart.
"But I'm... I'm not good."
"You're inexperienced," Elizabeth corrected. "And I haven't been able to tell you what to do because... well, the walls have ears."
"Don't they hear... here...?"
Elizabeth smiled. She turned Amy's face to hers and kissed her softly. Amy fell into the kiss and Elizabeth lightly stroked her thigh. "Just relax," Elizabeth said against her lips. Her fingertips teased the flesh just below the leg of her boxer shorts. Other than the two women in the library, Amy had never seen anyone having sex before. She'd never even seen a porn movie before. She was mystified by it, but even more mystified by Elizabeth.
She turned to face Elizabeth and pulled her tank top up. "Help me?" she said quietly.
Elizabeth pulled the shirt the rest of the way up, baring Amy's breasts. She touched them tenderly, circling the nipples as she leaned in and whispered in Amy's ear. Things that should have sounded dirty, but didn't. Not coming from Elizabeth. She closed her eyes and listened to what she'd been doing wrong and how she could fix it.
She brought one hand up to her mouth and sucked the tip of her thumb. As Elizabeth trailed down her neck, Amy put her hand between Elizabeth's legs and gently stroked. "Don't go straight for my clit." Amy used her fingertips and knuckles, touching through the barrier of the sweatpants. She knew Elizabeth was naked underneath them now; she could feel every fold through the thin fabric. "And when you do touch my clit... don't touch it with a dry finger. Make sure it's nice and wet... you can use my own juices or suck your finger first..."
Amy was breathing hard, her toes curled in the garish carpet of the guards break room. On the screen, an unnaturally endowed woman had just produced a large purple dildo from nowhere. Amy moved closer to Elizabeth. Elizabeth's fingers stroked Amy's breasts through her tank top and Amy whispered, "I want to do that."
Elizabeth lifted her head and looked at the screen. The bionically-buxom woman was on her knees in front of her lover, who was holding both legs over her head in an extremely acrobatic pose. They both, of course, hadn't bothered to take off their high heels. Elizabeth smiled and kissed Amy's cheek. "I don't know if I can pull off that position at my age."
Amy's color deepened and she said, "I didn't mean that part."
Elizabeth leaned back and loosened the tie on her sweatpants. Amy moved to the edge of the couch and pulled the pants down. Though Elizabeth's hair was starting to lighten, the patch between her legs was still as dark as ever. Amy bit her bottom lip and eased herself down onto her knees. Elizabeth spread her legs and her voice echoed in Amy's ears again.
"Keep in mind I'm more than a pussy... thighs... the inside of my knee..."
Amy bowed her head and kissed, not bothering to think about a path or a destination. She moved her lips across the warm flesh, letting her tongue paint the pale skin with intricate patterns that faded in the air of the room. She turned her head and kissed the inside of Elizabeth's opposite knee, running her hands along the underside of her thighs.
After a few aborted passes, she decided she'd been patient enough. Her cheek brushed across wet folds and she turned to face Elizabeth's pussy. She wet her lips and then kissed Elizabeth ever-so-gently. She closed her lips around the folds and brushed her tongue from the bottom to the top. She lightly touched the clit and then retreated. She sucked the pink lips and flicked her tongue against the soft flesh within.
She pulled back to take a breath and sucked two fingers into her mouth. She looked up into Elizabeth's eyes and said, "Am I...?"
"You're doing so good," Elizabeth said breathlessly.
Amy scooted closer and brushed her wet knuckles against Elizabeth's lips. She lifted her other hand and squeezed Elizabeth's breasts through her t-shirt. Her fingers slipped inside and she bowed her head to kiss Elizabeth's stomach, swirling her tongue in her navel. She squeezed, licked and thrust, using her whole body to rock Elizabeth towards orgasm.
Elizabeth put her hand on top of Amy's head, arched her back and hissed her orgasm. Her muscles went rigid, her feet pressing against the small of Amy's back. "And when I come," she'd said, her lips wet against Amy's ear, "I want you to lightly... kiss... all around my pussy... and on my thighs. Then, kiss my lips." Amy did as instructed and then stretched up to kiss Elizabeth hungrily.
When they parted, Amy settled on top of Elizabeth and nuzzled her cheek. "Was that..."
"The best," Elizabeth assured her. She kissed Amy's temple and rolled her, keeping the girl in her arms as they rolled to face the television. She put her hand between Amy's legs and idly stroked her as they watched. "Have you ever seen a movie like this before?"
Amy shook her head, not trusting her voice at the moment.
Elizabeth kissed the back of Amy's neck and slipped her fingers into the leg-hole of Amy's boxer shorts. Amy gasped and Elizabeth said, "We still have an hour and a half before Tower ruins our fun. What say we make the most of it?"
"How?" Amy asked, still transfixed by the images on the screen.
Elizabeth sat up and Amy, who'd been leaning on her, collapsed on the cushion. Elizabeth perched over her, hair hanging in her face and her eyes wild. She smiled, flashing teeth, and said, "Tell me what you want me to do to you. In explicit detail... down to every... last... touch."
Amy spread her legs and tried to think of where she wanted to start.
When Tower came to get them, they were both dressed and sitting together on the couch. They were thumbing through the magazines that had been left out on the table, Amy paying more attention to the pictures than Elizabeth was. He shook his head and said, "Why you ladies pay so much just to sit and read in the middle of the night... bunch of nuns locked up in here."
Elizabeth closed her Playboy and stood up. She took Amy's hand and said, "We are ladies, above all, Officer Tower."
"Didja rewind the porn?" he asked, gesturing at the VCR with his head.
"Back to zero," Elizabeth assured him.
He gestured for them to step from the room and followed them down the same long corridor. It was one in the morning and the prison was as dead as Amy had ever felt it. The only sounds she could hear were quiet snores coming from the cell blocks, strange places she herself had never ventured but assumed looked just like hers. In her mind, the prison consisted of a lot of corridors, a library and a yard. The cell blocks she'd never seen, to her, didn't exist. It was odd to hear them filled with life and people, most of whom had probably never seen her block.
But she had more pressing things on her mind. She nudged Elizabeth and said, "What did he mean, 'pay so much'?"
"Never mind," Elizabeth said. "Now comes the real price."
This time, Tower did take a turn into the solitary wing.
"No," Amy said. "No, don't..."
Elizabeth took Amy's hand and said, "It's just to make it look good. There has to be a record of the day-shift guard returning us to our cells."
Amy tried to stifle a whimper and squeezed Elizabeth's hand. She let Tower lead them into the block and close the heavy door. Instead of a barred door, the cell was locked with a heavy steel number with a Judas hole set at eye level so the guards could look in on her. There was a cot at the back wall, a steel toilet and a small sink. There was no mirror, in case she broke it and tried to slit her wrists with the glass.
She pressed her back against the wall and sank down until her feet touched the opposite wall. It was dark, dirty, it smelled of urine and feces and she felt claustrophobic. She smiled and hugged herself, closing her eyes until she pictured the coffee room again, until she felt Elizabeth's tongue sliding over her navel and to parts lower. She bit her bottom lip and realized morning wasn't that far away after all.
Time ceased to matter, really. She worked on passing her GED and, once she felt confident enough to take her test, she passed with flying colors. She and Elizabeth made love that night to celebrate. After their night in the coffee room, Amy had grown more confident with herself as a lover. She experimented, she was more playful and more at ease with her body. There were times when Chantal, in the next cell, would bang the wall and hiss for them to keep it down.
Amy took to running with Elizabeth on the track. Before long, given her age and the fact she was in good shape to begin with, she was slowing down so the Elizabeth wouldn't get left behind. They sat together on the bleachers, played poker with Chantal and Wanda and ate lunch together.
After the outburst that had doubled her sentence, Amy had been reassigned to landscape duty. Long hours working outside led to tanned, toned muscles that Elizabeth didn't hesitate in exploring. At night, while Elizabeth went through her law books, Amy wrote in a journal.
She never said what she was writing and Elizabeth didn't want to pry, but sometimes she would look up and watch Amy. She would have the notebook pressed against her chest, deep in thought and staring out at the corridor beyond their cell without seeing anything beyond. Then, she'd snap out of it, lay the book down on her lap and begin writing at such a furious clip Elizabeth wondered if she knew she'd even stopped.
One night, lying in Elizabeth's bunk and winding down from sex, Elizabeth said, "What are you writing?" She kissed Amy's forehead. "I mean, can I ask?"
"It's stupid," Amy said.
"Anything that gets you through the day here," Elizabeth said.
Amy slid off the bunk as Elizabeth watched; she was astonished that the same timid little girl she'd met almost a year ago was now walking naked around their cell. Amy pulled the notebook from under her pillow and handed it to Elizabeth. She turned to the front page and read Amy's neat, cursive hand-writing to herself.
"It felt like a prison, hiding all the time. Keeping it inside, wondering if people could look at me and know. I wanted to hide it. I wanted to stop being afraid and just shout it out loud. The woman I was in love with loved me back We were lovers! I'd lost my virginity to her. The things she'd taught me, shown me, done to me were filling my mind until it felt like it was going to overflow and drown me."
"What is this?"
Amy sighed. "A novel, I guess. I named the characters Anna and Ellie. I just wanted to get my feelings out and... and..." She shook her head. "I know. Someone who hates books writing a novel."
"Why do you hate books so much?" Elizabeth whispered, flipping through the pages.
"My daddy ran a bookstore all my life. I don't... exactly have fond memories of the man."
"Is he why you ran?"
Amy shrugged. "Part of the reason."
"You know you'll have to go back some day. You can't run from who you are or where you belong." Amy nodded and Elizabeth handed the notebook back. "Can I read it when it's done?"
"Sure," Amy said. She stood on her mattress and leaned forward, kissing Elizabeth good-night. "Sleep well."
"You, too, baby."
Amy dropped down and stretched out on top of her own mattress. A year in prison had flown by like nobody's business. If she'd just kept her cool, she would've been halfway to being out by now. But one year, two... even four years. As long as Elizabeth was here with her, that was all that mattered.
Amy woke with the sun on her face and jerked to consciousness. She didn't understand the soft mattress that was wide enough for her legs to be sprawled out, didn't understand the soft, soft, sinful blanket that was covering her. She blinked and looked around the hotel room. The window was open for the light and she remembered stripping naked before getting into the bed. It had felt like heaven against her legs and she'd fallen asleep with a smile on her face.
The hotel was silent. Deathly silent. She could hear birds outside, a truck downshifting (or was it upshifting? Who cared, it was a sound from real life) on the highway. She sat up and looked around the spartan room. It was all she could afford at the moment, but she was not going to sleep on the street. Not her first night as a free woman.
She slipped out of the blankets and went to the bathroom. Then, she showered. She showered alone, without fear of a hand touching her ass or someone trying to push her against the wall and fuck her from behind with some makeshift dildo. She shuddered at the thought of Elizabeth still being there with those people and it made her cry. She shut off the shower, long since gone cold, and shivered back to the main room.
She sat cross-legged on the floor and drew the phone to her. She dialed slowly so she didn't mess up the number and politely followed all the instructions. Finally, she said those magic words: "I'd like to speak to Elizabeth Hudson, Inmate 998716."
There was a long pause, a static hum filled the line and then the phone clattered. "Hello?"
"Liz?" Amy said.
"Baby," Elizabeth sighed.
Amy put her hand to her lips and closed her eyes to fight the tears. "I'm so sorry."
"What?" Elizabeth said, obviously thrown. "What did you do?"
"Amy, you haven't stuttered in over a year. Don't start again today of all days."
Amy sniffled, ran a hand under her nose and took a deep breath. "I got out. And you're still in there."
"I'd like to hear you explain how that's your fault."
Amy coughed and looked down at her bare feet. The news was supposed to have been joyous; the judge had considered her time behind bars and the fact she'd been a model prisoner and reconsidered her sentence. She was set to be released with only thirty months served. Amy had taken the news horribly. She'd wanted to break something, wanted to attempt escape just to get time added to her sentence instead of taken away.
Elizabeth held her. Stroked her hair, kissed her forehead and face as she cried. "Don't you do anything stupid, you hear me?" Elizabeth whispered in her ear as her fingers stroked through Amy's hair. "You get even one day added to your sentence, and we're through, you hear me?" Amy had clung to her and Elizabeth had shushed her. They'd stayed like that all night and, after lights-out, had made love like it was the last time.
Two months later, Amy was packing her bags to leave. She couldn't bear to see Elizabeth, so she'd pleaded with her to be gone when it was time to leave. Elizabeth had held her, kissed her face and agreed. So Amy left her cell empty, easier than knowing Elizabeth was watching her go, and followed the guard out of the prison.
"You left something behind," Elizabeth said.
Her voice brought Amy back to the present. "What?"
"No," Amy said, brushing at her eyes. "I left that on purpose. It's for you. You can do whatever you want with it."
"It's good, baby," Elizabeth said for the thousandth time. "You should try and get it published."
Amy scoffed. "Right. You can try if you want, but don't put my name on it. I'd be mortified." She thought and said, "Say it's by Francesca Harland."
Elizabeth laughed. "Who is that?"
"Francesca is a woman I knew a long time ago... and Harland is my homophobic father's name."
Elizabeth laughed. "Good enough. Amy... I have to go. There's a line."
"Okay," Amy said reluctantly. She bit her bottom lip and said, "I love you."
Elizabeth made a sound that could have been a gasp. Maybe it was just static over the line. They'd never said it to one another while they were in prison; Elizabeth had said it wasn't fair for Amy to be tied to a prisoner by those three little words. "Ames, I'm not getting out. I'm stuck here for life."
"I'm stuck for life, too," Amy said softly. "I love you. You don't have to say it back; I know there are people listening in. I just wanted to say it out loud for once. Bye, Liz."
Amy hung up the phone and wiped her face with both hands. She stood and went to her duffel bag to find something to wear outside. She was a free woman and she'd be damned if she was going to spend the day cooped up in a tiny hotel room.
"...Seven. One. Six," Amy said, barely containing her anger as she repeated Elizabeth's number for the tenth time. The guard again told her to wait 'one moment please' and disappeared.
Amy said and leaned against the wall, curling the phone cord between her fingers. This was bullshit. How long did it take to find one lousy inmate? Across the street, the ferry lanes were filled with cars waiting to go to Squire's Isle. If they didn't find Elizabeth in the next five minutes, she'd have to...
"Who may I ask is calling?"
She frowned at the man's voice. "This is Amy Wellis. I'd like to speak to Inmate 998716 as soon as I can, please."
"This is Warden Hughes, Miss Wellis. I'm afraid to inform you that Inmate 998716, Elizabeth Leigh Hudson, died last night."
The words hit her like a punch in the stomach. She sagged against the wall, numb. She wanted to ask him to repeat it, but was afraid he would actually say those vile words again. "Ho-how?"
"The coroner determined it was a heart attack. She went peacefully."
Amy wept silently, her ear beginning to throb against the phone as she pressed it tighter. "No," she whispered. "It.... no. No."
"I'm sorry, Miss Wellis. Were you family?"
Amy's eyes opened as she realized he didn't recognize her name. "No. No! I..." She bit her bottom lip and reined in her anger. "Does she have any family?"
"We're trying to contact some, but we're not having much luck. We were hoping..."
"I'll take care of the funeral arrangements," she said. "I owe her. I loved her."
"All right. We'll just need some information about..."
Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. The ferry was loading. "I can't right now. I'm sorry, I'm... in a bit of a rush. But I'll be in contact. I'm going to give Elizabeth a proper send-off."
"Very well, Miss Wellis. We'll be expecting your call."
She hung up on him, the man who'd imprisoned her for two years and then, apparently forgotten about her. It had only been a year and a half since she got out of his hellhole; surely he had a longer memory than that. She picked up her bags and hurried towards the loading platform. In her head, she could hear what she'd been planning to say to Elizabeth.
"I'm going back. Back home, back to Squire's Isle. My father died. The lawyer requested I be there for the reading of his will and I'll do that much. Maybe I'll even get a chance to dance on his grave before I cut ties with the island forever. I miss you so much, Lizzie. I love you. I'll do what I have to on the island and then I'll be back. I'll find a place near the prison... I'll visit you whenever I can get away. I'll never leave you."
She found a seat on the ferry and hugged her knees. As they pulled out of the dock, she began to sob. Other passengers gave her a wide berth, a few people trying to console her on their long journey to the island. But she didn't want to be consoled; she wanted to mourn. She wanted to say good-bye to the woman she loved.
The endReturn to the Academy