Waking at night
There is a distinct difference about the night; there is an unmistakable chill that lies dormant in the air. There is no escape through the blindness. I lie motionless yet disorientated, enveloped by the murky cloak. The silence is only broken by the deluge of rain thumping and thundering on the roof. My eyes imperceptibly acclimatize to the glowering gloom. I run my fingers through my raspy unshaven beard and I perceive the feathery down on my arms rise in response to the frigid air. I sit up and I am the only one awake, alone with my remembrance in the no man’s land of the night. All too soon, a vapid sun will glimpse through the insufficient window and arouse the rest of the detainees with whom I am bound to endure the remains of my now unnatural life. The bell will toll and, the other inmates and I will simultaneously put on our prison uniforms which in a sense unified us as criminals and dehumanise us as outcasts. Nevertheless, the sole thought in my mind is that I should be free!
The daylight hours are a skirmish between the equally hostile forces of my fellow felons and my introspections. I am tortured by the knowledge that my incarceration is at the hand of my former friend who framed me for the murder of the girl that I unequivocally loved and I am tormented by grief at the loss of her illuminating existence. My despair is not complete, however as I clutch at the hope that the evidence is reviewed and my sentence revoked.
The dictatorial bell controls the monotony of the day. We are ordered into lines to be escorted to meals and we march to the dining hall. The food is repugnant. Its putrid smell forces me to turn from it and I long for the blanket of darkness to cover its sickening sight. I realise however that I must eat these revolting meals to withstand the cruelty of prison. The day is mostly shrouded in penumbra although it is punctuated by a move along the blank corridors to the yard to receive our daily ration of daylight. As I emerge from the doorway, the dappled sunlight streams onto my face and I feel rejuvenated. However, this exposure to the outside shows me how much I am missing, wasting away here, I conclude that the only comfort is in the waking hours of the night. What is to those on the outside, a beast stalking the peace of their dreams, is to me an angelic deliverance from the fear and despondency that accompany me throughout the day.
Any gathering of the prisoners sees them separating into factions like lions joining their prides in the savanna. I am without a group because I am, in fact, the prey! I am friendless and alone. The solitary confinement of the night is an escape. I need only submit and my imagination can set me free.
The night takes its time to come to me. The sun dips down and the waxing crescent moon rises up into the illuminated sky. I take off my coarse uniform and I seamlessly fall to sleep. The night gives me sanctuary. My imagination runs wild with the images of me and my girl-friend’s happiness together. We were together, loving one another and talking. Simply talking to one another. Just reliving these experiences fills me with warmth and deflects the icy fingers of the night. It is now that I am free; outside of the confines of the daytime life as the day only reminds me of the fact that I now live in a world without her and without her is a world that I cannot live in. I am free.