The wall clock ticks off time as I sit in the pre-dawn darkness, a small white table lamp throwing faint shadows on the wall every time a bug goes near it. I turn in the revolving office chair and look out into the darkness, trying to gather what kind of weather awaited my day. I don’t want rain, I’m sick of it. Every night for the last two weeks the only sound that has accompanied my dreams is the hard, flat beating of water against the hard, flat roof above my head.
I sit with my hands in my lap. I look down at them, now almost devoid of colour, intertwined and wrestling with each other, a habit of mine. I want to feel the sun on my skin, warming it, burning my face and reddening my neck. Of all the things I miss the most, the sun is in my top two list. The other is Lizzie, my daughter, the only family that has come to see me during the last 6 years. I see the sun when I see my daughter, all beaming smiles, overflowing long, dark curly hair smelling of apple-scented shampoo and with wrinkles of laughter around her eyes; always pleased to see me. Together we’ve sat and planned this day when I would finally walk from this cell and now, finally, that day has come and I sit at this wooden desk, scarred from a hundred cigarette burns and awaiting her arrival. Even the guards had treated me differently this morning, maybe even those hard-noses appreciate the importance of today.
Before she arrives I have to have another interview with the warden. While I sit looking at my white, continuously wringing hands he comes in, his hands resting on his thick, brown leather belt and trying to smile. Yes, today they all seem happy for me. If smoking were still permitted inside the building I think he may have even offered me a cigarette, hell, possibly even a cigar.
“So Mr Onfray,” he says, trying to wedge himself between the wooden arms of the chair and not doing a very good job, “your last day. I guess it’s a stupid question but I want to ask how it feels. How do you feel Mr Onfray?”
My hands stopped trying to strangle themselves and I look him in the eyes.
“It’ll be the last time my Lizzie sees her daddy in these prison blues, Warden. I’m thankful for that.”
He raises an eyebrow and one side of his mouth, which I take to be a smile, and nods his head, his bulging neck doing its best to escape his shirt collar.
“I guess you’re right,” he says.
After all, how many men had he seen walk out of here, their last meal served at noon no longer weighing heavily in their stomachs.
That long, last walk.