She could always see the light when she looked into their eyes.
Other people called them demons, monsters, killers, murderers. But she refused to ignore how kind they could be when she handed them their food tray. She could not look away when they smiled with appreciation back at her as if on their tray, there lay not slop from the prison kitchen, but instead cups of miracles and bowls filled with rainbows.
She had worked as a prison officer for 21 years. Looking back on the time she had spent, she remembered the first time she was attacked. He was old and off his meds. Still, she couldn’t blame him. How would you feel if you received a letter in the mail stating that his only child was found dead in the alley, with teeth marks from rats? She couldn’t. she also remembered the time she fell in love with an inmate. He had so much light in his eyes, each time he looked at her, she had to look away and squint as if hiding from the rays of the sun. Of course, she never shared her feelings with any of the inmates. No one would understand, especially not them.
Her job was to oversee and sometimes assist in all inmate activity. Most of the other officers had hardened with time, but not her. She couldn’t decide if that made her stronger or weaker. The longer she was there, the more she understood their miseries. When they complained, every single word entered her heart and escaped in a silent prayer.
That’s why she couldn’t leave her job which other people despised and felt sure was the cause of her graying hair. No, she could not leave the prison. Despite the hate and cruelty that some of the inmates felt, she understood that there was always something in each of them, that was fighting to be good. Because of that, she never gave up on them. They cursed, they riled, they were the unbelievers. Yet despite the circumstance, they too had hope that one day something miraculous would happen and the doors would open up and present them with the glorious gift of freedom. A freedom that all freemen understand not.
They were never going to leave.
And they were never going to lose their hope.
Nor will I.