He misses the warmth; the old radiators chucking out heat so the men all wore tee-shirts in winter and complained they were boiling. He could do with a bit of that now, bone-cold he is. In the dining room there’d be a massive queue for the slops, the not-actually-chicken chicken, the mashed something, the curried whatever, and the noise from all the fellas scraping back chairs and bantering and chewing and talking their bollocks. Could do with a bit of that n’all, stuck in this dingy room on his own all the time, avoiding the druggies and paedos. He’s had noodles in a plastic pot and a four-pack. He misses the routine; the Y’alright, Bob? Ite? Hey man. The head nods and elbow bumps, the having a day full of things to do. He’d had a decent job in the laundry, £14 a week in his spends so he could afford chocolate and tuna and fizzy drinks in his canteen. Camaraderie. He’d even grown fond of that tosser Rajesh in the end despite the rocky start. Monday was chapel, he’s never been religious but the fellas there were cool and there was always a cuppa and a biscuit. Tuesday and Thursday art class. Who’d have thought he’d ever, but the tutor said he had a gift for it and he’d got well into sketching the birds he sometimes saw out in the vast countryside sky. He missed that sky now. It was different in London, like the birds knew not to bother. But even before he got to the open prison it’d been better hadn’t it. Not having sky hadn’t mattered much. Closed conditions were shit, everyone knows that, but the Franklin twins had been there and his padmate had been a right laugh; an Irish lad with a quiff that never failed to amuse him. The food was a lot better. There was the little fat woman who taught level one maths and English and had smelt like roses. The chaplain. The two officers who remembered him from before and got him put on the best wing. The TV they all watched at the same time. The noise and the beatings and the drugs were shite, but…
He stands up, immediately sits back down on the bed, back up again. Spreads his arms. He can’t stay here. He can’t. He’ll head to the little Tesco where there’s one guy on the door who always eyes him. He’ll grab some cans and stuff them under his jacket. He’s on probation, they’ll have no choice but to send him back. Now he’s decided, he can’t wait to escape.


About the Author

Sara Crowley's fiction has been widely published in places including 3:AM, Hobart, The Irish Times, wigleaf, Neon and Time Out. She's managing editor of The Forge, blogs at and appreciates you taking the time to read this.

Photo, "Meadow2," by Alex Hiam on Flickr. No changes made to photo.