tagNovels and NovellasMy Fall and Rise Ch. 01

My Fall and Rise Ch. 01


When The World Turned Gray.

Would it have been better if the sky were blue and the trees were green and the wild flowers blossomed along the roadside? Or would the end of so much color in my life have made it harder to bear?

I watched the bare trees and the dirty snow banks roll by as my mother drove me to the courthouse. We sat in silence as the radio gave us the morning news. There had been a bombing in the Middle East, a plane crash in Mexico, a mass shooting at a school in Ohio. There was always such bad news. Somebody was always killing someone. Somebody was always being killed. Somebody was always going to prison because somebody killed somebody.

There was a dull ache behind my eyes and a sick feeling in my stomach. How much was fear and how much was hangover, I could not say. I had not planned to drink so much the night before, but the confrontation with my brother had deeply upset me, and if I was an expert on anything, it was self medication. It was not so much his pronouncement that I was "finally being thrown in the garbage dump where I belonged" as it was my agreement with the sentiment that hit me so hard. I knew a dozen ways I could make myself feel better, but I had been clean for almost three weeks, and I was determined that I would go in clean. When I closed my eyes, my head felt better but my nausea was worse. All I could do was bear up under it. It was not lost on me that my life now would be all about bearing up under things.

It took about half an hour to reach the county seat. Several times my mother began to speak, but she faltered each time. I wondered later what she wanted to say. Did she want to tell me she loved me? That she was ashamed of me? Maybe she wanted to give me some piece of advice, but had no idea how a mother should advise a child on how to get by in prison. All she could come up with, as we pulled into the courthouse parking lot, was that I should be sure to stand up straight and try to keep my hair off my face.

When we entered the courthouse my attorney, Sarah Carlson, was waiting for me. She worked for a local women's group that had taken a interest in my case. She gave both my mother and I hugs and led us into a conference room. We all sat down at a long wooden table.

"I want to go over today's procedures with you, dear, OK?"

I nodded, and she continued. "The court will accept your plea of guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and hindering a police investigation. You'll be sentenced to the women's correctional facility for a term not less than two nor more than four years."

"It's too much," my mother said with tears welling in her eyes.

"I understand how you feel, Mrs. Bennett, and I agree that it's not a great deal, but the alternative is to be charged with accomplice to homicide and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. And if we don't take this offer, there will be a joint trial, which is the last thing we want. They are going to make Nick into a monster, and you don't want your daughter sitting next to him while they do. Realistically, it's a choice between two, maybe two and a half years, and twenty years or more."

Mom shook her head, but said no more.

"Melissa, do you understand how important it is that you testify truthfully when Nick comes to trial? You can't hold back anything. Even with your plea, they can still file the drug charges later if they think you haven't given full cooperation."

I nodded, still staring at the paper.

"Tell me you understand, dear."

" I understand." I was going to testify against the only man I had ever loved. My trust in him had been shattered, but the love lingered. A few months earlier, I'd have said I would die for him, now I was not willing to sit in a cell one day longer than I had to for him. He had betrayed me, and now I betrayed him. I took Sarah's pen and signed the papers.

"Once the judge has pronounced sentence, you will be taken immediately into custody. You'll be taken to the county jail until they are ready to transport you to women's correctional."

She looked at her watch. "We've got a little time still, I'll let the two of you have the time together."

She left the room. I didn't know what to say to my mother.

"You can get your bail money back now." It was the best I could come up with.

"Yes, that's good. Thank you."

"Don't thank me."

"Well, if you hadn't done the right thing, I wouldn't have."

I looked at her in disbelief. She had begged and borrowed bail money to get me out of jail, and now she was thanking me for not skipping out on it. I wasn't sure if she was expressing her love for me or her low expectations.

Sarah opened the door. "It's time."

We walked into the courtroom. My hands were trembling and I was afraid that I might vomit. There were only a few people in the room, and I felt relieved. There had been a great amount of coverage of our case in the local newspapers, and even some stories on TV news. I was afraid there might be reporters there, or family members of the victim, but I realized that Nicky was the circus, I was just the sideshow. If there had been any interest in what happened to me, it had passed.

Sarah guided me to the defense table and we sat down. My mother slipped into the seat behind me and rested her hand in the center of my back. It felt like a lifeline, holding me in the world.

The judge entered the room and we all rose. Sarah and the district attorney approached the bench and had a conversation with the judge. They returned and Sarah put her hand on my shoulder.

The judge spoke to me. "Miss Bennett, are you ready to enter a plea?"

"Yes, your honor." My voice was barely audible.

"And how do you plead?"

And I said the word that I had said to myself thousands of times.

"Is there anything you'd like to say before sentencing?"

I could not raise my eyes from the floor. "I'm sorry.".

My mother pressed on my back and whispered, "Look at the judge, honey."

I raised my eyes and looked into his. I spoke as clearly as I could, fighting hard to control my emotions. "I am so so sorry for what happened. I'm sorry for everything." He pursed his lips, slowly nodded, and sent me to prison.

I turned to my mom and hugged her. Her hand had not left my back through the proceedings. I began to sob to her, "I'm sorry, mama, I'm sorry." She stroked my hair and kissed my forehead, but a strong hand took hold of my arm and turned me away. The bailiff began to lead me out of the room, but I heard Mom calling, not to me, but to him.

"Hey," she cried. "Excuse me, officer!" He turned at her commotion. She was holding my coat. "Take her coat. It's cold out there."

He took my coat from her and escorted me into the security room. As he closed the door behind us, I saw my mother and Sarah, standing arm in arm, watching me go away.

In a few minutes, a sheriff's deputy entered the room. He checked my ID to make sure that I was who I said I was, and then he gave me a quick pat down and cuffed my wrists in front of me. He explained to me that I would be held at the county jail until the day's other cases were cleared. He draped my coat over the cuffs and escorted me out of a side door and into a patrol car.

The jail is just down the street from the courthouse and we were there in a few minutes. It's a small town county jail, converted from an old farmhouse. We went inside and they uncuffed me and put me in the same cell that I had been in when I was arrested. It was actually just a bedroom that had it's door and window barred. There was an older woman sitting on the cot, so I sat down in the only other option, a straight backed wooden chair. She was gnawing on her nails. "Have you been in jail before?" she asked.

"Yeah, a few times."

"In prison?"

"No, just county lockup a couple of times."

She looked up at me. "Are you that girl from the murder?"

I shrugged, and nodded. That's me from now on, I thought. If I discover a cure for cancer someday, there will be newspaper headlines that read "Girl From Murder Wins Nobel Prize."

She shrank back a little bit, a reaction I'd come to know well. But then she went back to her nails, and I noticed she was trembling.

"I'm Melissa," I said. "They gave me two to four."



"Oh my god," she gasped. "I got a year."

Her name was Lenore. She told me that she had been driving on a suspended license, something for which she'd previously been arrested twice. This time, however, she'd crashed into another car and seriously injured three people, including a young boy who was not expected to walk again. I thought I should feel some sympathy for her, or some outrage at her actions, but I couldn't feel anything. I gazed out the window. The sky was growing darker, even though the day was no more than half over.

One of the deputies came around and handed us each a bag from McDonalds and a cup of Coke.

"Thought you ladies might want some lunch," he said, smiling like we should drop to our knees in thanks. I had been there for two nights when I was arrested, and once before on a disorderly conduct charge, and McDonalds was all they ever fed you.

"Jeezum," I said to him, "Do you guys ever get a pizza or something?"

He laughed and walked away. We ate our hamburgers and fries in silence. Before long, the doors opened and another prisoner was brought in. I knew her. Her name was Violet. She had been one of Nicky's customers. I tensed up, wondering how she would react to me. Anyone who takes a plea bargain in cases involving drugs is automatically suspected of being a snitch. But Violet greeted me warmly. The deputy removed her cuffs and told us that he would be back soon to get us loaded for transport.

Violet had been sentenced to 9 months for passing stolen checks. Lenore asked her if she had ever been in prison, and she told her that she had, but only a for couple of months. She had been rounded up for solicitation at a truck stop, and was, at the time, carrying a bottle of stolen Percocet in her pocket.

A couple of deputies came in, and we were shackled. Our wrists and ankles were cuffed. A long chain connected the two cuffs, and was attached to a second chain that wrapped around our waists. They marched us out of the cell into the lobby. The deputy who had brought us lunch stopped us. He got our coats from the rack and draped them over our shoulders.

"Wouldn't want you ladies to catch a chill. It's starting to rain out there." He reached under my coat and took hold of the back of the waist chain and steered me out the door. It was hard walking in the ankle cuffs. The best I could manage was shuffling half steps. There was a cold misty rain coming down. A sheriff department van was idling nearby, and he led me to it. Two other deputies had Lenore and Violet. There were three bench seats in the van. They put Violet in the back, then Lenore in the middle, and then the deputy helped me get up the fold out steps and sit down on the front bench. He locked my restraints to a metal ring that was attached to the front of my seat. When he finished, he slid his hand up my thigh. "Come by when you get out, I'll buy you a pizza," he said, as he winked at me and squeezed my crotch.

The door slid shut and the van began to move. Tears were streaking my face. I was angry and frustrated and afraid. He had taught me an early lesson that every prisoner needs to learn, and learn quickly. There are people who can do whatever they want to you, and you will keep your mouth shut and take it.

It's about 70 miles from the county seat to the women's prison. For a while, we all just sat and watched the local scenery give way to less familiar surroundings. It was raining harder now, and eventually, the windows fogged, and we could not see out anymore. Lenore began to sob loudly. I could hear Violet trying to calm her, but I just felt annoyed. I was going away longer than she was, and I wasn't making so much racket about it. Only later did I consider how different losing even a year of your life must feel at 50 than it does at 24.

I was crying a little myself, but doing so quietly. If I bent down and lifted my hands as high as I could, I was just able to wipe my eyes and nose. It grew darker outside the windows and all I could see was my own reflection in the glass. I stared at myself and thought about how I had gotten into such a situation. There is always someone else to blame. My vanished father. The older boy who took me so young. The first guy who handed me a pill and told me how much I'd love it. Nicky.

Of course I thought it had been Nicky's fail most of all. But how do you blame someone for making you love them? I didn't want to think about how terribly wrong everything had gone, so I thought back to that first time we met.

He was so beautiful. I first saw him in firelight. There were at least a dozen people partying around the bonfire when my friend and I walked up to it, but all I saw was him. He was tall and wiry, with his perpetually tangled black hair blowing in the breeze. He was only wearing a pair of cut off jeans, and in the moment, all I wanted to do was just touch his chest, his tight abdomen, his thighs. He was laughing and smoking a joint. Staring at the opaque glass, I could still see him clearly, laughing.

I had moved closer to him, and caught his eye. He smiled at me and handed me the joint. I took a deep toke and handed it back. He took me by the arm and pulled me closer. He leaned his face down close to mine, took a lungful of sweet smoke, then blew it slowly towards my mouth. I took it in, and as I did so, his hand moved around to the small of my back, and he pulled me against him. His mouth followed the smoke and his lips brushed mine. When I had let my breath back out, they pressed hard and his tongue entered my mouth. We had not spoken, but I was already his.

Lenore had stopped crying, and it was silent inside the van. The rain had turned to sleet and it was steadily tapping the roof and the windows. The driver began grumbling, and it was apparent that road conditions were getting bad. Good, I thought. Maybe we will crash. Maybe we will roll over and we can all escape. But we continued along the highway, slowed but still heading to our destination.

Nicky was going to go away for a much longer time than I was. I knew I would see him one more time, across the courtroom. But would we ever speak again? Would we ever sit and talk about what we'd had, and what had happened?

Of course, I knew the answers. If there were any doubts left, they would be destroyed when I took a seat in the witness stand. I thought about Willie Nelson's song, Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, and the line about how only memories remain.

I wanted nothing more than that some of those memories would vanish forever from my mind, but there were other memories that I wanted to hold on to forever.

After the bonfire, we became inseparable. If you were to ask me if I believe in love at first sight, I would say, yes, that curse exists. We met again the next night, and he took me by the hand and led me to a secluded knoll that overlooked the bay. The night was filled with stars and a few sailboats rocked at their moorings, their anchor chains chiming like bells. When he began to undress me I felt like the star of a romantic movie. When he moved his mouth over my body, I felt like a goddess being worshipped. When I took him in my mouth, I felt like I was kneeling before a god. We made love in the grass, not gently, not roughly, but with an impassioned determination to please each other's desires. When we had exhausted ourselves, he held me in his arms and we talked for a long time. I was living with a man. He had a girlfriend. None of that mattered. We wanted to be together.

The van slowed to a crawl, and then turned from the dimness of the highway into a brightly lit area. It came to a stop for a moment. I could just get my forearm to the window and wipe off enough condensation with my sleeve to see through. I watched as we rolled past a high fence topped with razor wire. We came to a stop again and the side door slid open.

A uniformed woman detached my shackles from the seat and gestured me out of the van. As I stepped out, I nearly fell on the slippery pavement. It was still afternoon but in the sally port the light was gone and everything was beginning to don a coating of ice. She took my arm in one hand and the back of my chains in the other. "Tiny steps, dearie," she said, "Don't want you to slip and get hurt." I felt grateful for that small kindness. Lenore and Violet were helped out by other officers and we shuffled to the doorway. The officer who was escorting me pressed a button, and a second later a buzzer sounded and the door popped open.

I stepped inside, the others shuffling in after me, and then I heard that sound that no one who has heard it can ever forget, as the door slammed shut behind us.

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byMelissaBaby© 20 comments/ 16777 views/ 27 favorites
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by Anonymous

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by Anonymous03/17/19


Melissa - You are a talented writer and a master of the first person narrative.
As to the "me" or "I" argument, "for" is a preposition, prepositions have objects and therefore take the objective case.more...

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by Anonymous03/16/19


I'd sympathy butt fuck you, you sex bitch.

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