Nyla wasn’t sure how much longer she could continue to do this, but most of all she didn’t understand why no one else saw how fundamentally wrong the Facility was. The prison held thousands of people who would have been free just several decades ago. Their crimes weren’t crimes. They were simply trying to live the life America claimed to offer and at one time, the country had been exactly that place.
She sat and bowed her head, rubbing her temples, trying to force back the headache she generally got while inside the Facility. Maybe the fluorescent light was too bright or the air too stale, but no matter the reason, the pain crept behind her eyes as she settled in for the long wait. Nyla imagined the authorities wanted visitors to feel the chill of the windowless room, to contemplate the silence and the dismal gray concrete walls, ceilings and floor. She figured the depressing décor was meant to discourage any free person from breaking the law and having to be incarcerated. The lack of human contact, color, warmth and sound was unnerving, and it provided too much time to think, making the electrocuting sound of doors opening as footsteps approached an almost a welcome distraction.
“You came,” whispered the tiny woman clad in a baggy fluorescent green jumpsuit.
The appreciative voice interrupted Nyla’s dark thoughts. She stood and smiled the warmest smile she could muster when her heart ached so deeply. Nyla wrapped her arms around the woman’s narrow drooping shoulders and held her tight, not wanting to ever let go, but knowing she must since personal expressions of emotion were strictly prohibited.
The woman cried while Nyla held her, the sounds muffled in her embrace. Every visit began the same way, but it never seemed to get any easier. Nyla suppressed her own urge to release the pain and anger bottled up inside and continued to hug the woman until she had her own emotions under control.
Nyla heard the monitor clear her throat, issuing an unspoken warning to break the physical contact. Nyla forced a smile back onto her lips, repressed the evil thoughts swirling through her mind, released the woman and stepped back to the required distance.
“Hello Mother. I’ve missed you.”