Writing this flash fiction was a bit of a challenge for me because I had trouble keeping it concise. The hardest part about this process was keeping it under the 750 word limit and still managing to make it compelling (I hope). It was also difficult to come up with an object in the setting that I chose, but I think I managed to do that as well. The main theme of my story was the importance of time, so I chose the symbolic object to be a watch. The inspiration for this story came from the Netflix show "Orange Is The New Black."
Staying In Line Saves Nine (And Time)
Time was slow in solitary. Mykie watched the hands spin in circles on her wristwatch as she slumped against the peeling wall. Her eyes religiously followed their every movement but paid no attention to the numbers it read. Tick. Tick. If she blinked, the hands would go back up to where they started and she would have to wait for them to come down again, which was time Mykie couldn't afford. Tick. Tick. She'd been there for several years and she had several more to go. The lights in her cell were always on, flickering every few minutes. Sometimes, she'd lay on her bed and stare up at them, but lately she prefered studying the watch her mother gave her. Tick. Tick.
The creaking sound of the metal flap in her door opening drifted into Mykie's ears. She turned her head, watching a hand place a tray of food on the ground. Mykie leaned over to check its contents: old, crusty pasta. She wrinkled her nose as she pushed it away. A wave of panic shot through her as she remembered the watch, but to her relief, and surprise, none of the hands swung backwards again. Tick. Tick. She knew everything comes to an end, and her time in this place would be no exception.
Mykie did not belong in prison, especially not in the security housing units. These cells were built for the screaming, frothing messes who couldn't be allowed near the other inmates. Mykie's voice had never joined the muffled cries of her neighbors, so as far as she was concerned, she was an apple and they were oranges. Unlike them, she found relief in the knowledge that the clock couldn't be killed, and every second was another trudge away from her muddy past. Sometimes, she thought she could almost catch a glimpse of the rainbow of hope behind the clouds. She looked down at her wrist to see how much time before it showed up, but frowned when the hands sat lifelessly. Mykie tapped the surface, blinking profusely. Nothing changed. Angrily, she ripped it off and threw it in the tray.
Time stood still. The watch was no longer there to prove otherwise, and the stubborn lights refused to die, offering little clue as to what time of day it was. Mykie stood up to crawl onto her mattress, running a hand through her dark hair. She squeezed her eyes shut, the unsettling clamor of the inmates surrounding her ears. Her fingers tapped restlessly at her sides on the bed. One, two, three… Mykie counted in her head, relaxing in the warm familiarity of a mindless action to keep her thoughts occupied. Anything to distract her. Fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty. One, two, three…
Mykie must have counted herself to sleep as when she opened her green eyes again, her breath was stale. Instinctively, she glanced down at her wrist but her eyes shifted back up when she remembered why her mother's watch didn't sit there. Swallowing, Mykie turned her attention towards the door. The pasta, and watch, had been replaced with a slice of bread.
"No," she murmured, the realization of what she'd done catching up to her. I could have had it fixed after I got out. Mykie groaned in devastation, counting the number of years left. She hoped to be transferred out of the security cells soon and move back to the dorms, but she wasn't sure when that would happen, if at all. There was no telling with the security housing units and after what she did to that guard...
Mykie melted onto her back. Her face grew warm and tears pricked at her eyes as the image of a small child with dark hair and green eyes slipped into her mind. I can't give her the watch anymore. Before she knew it, a searing pain flashed through her knuckles and her voice finally rose to join those of the other inmates. The apple had been an orange all along. Her fist and the wall collided again. Mykie let out a sob as sharp and desperate as the screech of a violin as she reached under her pillow, pulling out a photo of her daughter. Quieting instantaneously, she wiped her nose with her sleeve and gingerly touched her bleeding hand as a tear made its way down to the photo. She let out a shaky breath, rubbing at her eyes. If only there was more time. And maybe a distraction until it came.