When they put the handcuffs around his wrist, he realized for the first time that this was the most painful sensation human beings could live through which had nothing to do with how tight the officer in blue tightened the metal, click after click.
He could smell the smoke in the humid air and liked feeling how it wrapped around him as he sat on his simple porch which he had built with his own hands. Trees, greenery, lush surrounded him on all sides. When the wind picked up the green slowly shook, and he thought about how his daughter use to shake when she was cold in the night until he would bring her closer to his body between him and her mother where she felt safe and he felt his purpose. A bird above him pecked away at an insect in its claws. It was getting colder than usual, but not cold enough for him to go inside his little hut where his family waited. He stayed on the porch and smoked a cigarette that he had rolled. Everyone else on the island stuck with cigarette cartons prerolled because they were ready to go and easy. Light, inhale and forget. Not him. He liked taking the time divide the tobacco, carefully placing it inside the delicate sheet until it was ready to be tucked in and secured. He wet his fingers and sealed his work. Slowly he admired his creation and wondered if this had been better than the last. He lit a match and brought it to the tip, slowly inhaling once the burning began. The first hit was always the best. He wondered whether his last cigarette would be the worse.
His belly started up again and he remembered he was hungry. The papaya and banana trees around him dimmed one notch when he remembered that he couldn’t pluck a single fruit from their leaves. Quickly he shut the hungry away and focused on the smoke that surrounded him. It came from leaves burning in the garden next door and from his tobacco burning between his lips. He wanted his wife’s lips, just like he always wanted her lips. But she could wait. They would all have to wait. He looked beyond the green and saw the sky. Overcast but bright. It made him think about the time when he walked on the beach and how much darker the overcast made him compared to when the sun shined in full force pushing everyone back inside their homes or in the waters. Overcast wasn’t so bad he thought. Rain was nice too.
He wished it rained hard so he could walk outside and feel the drops fall on him. He would pay better attention this time. He’d open his mouth and close his eyes. As he imagined himself soaking in the rain with a smile on his face, one drop shed from his left eye in response to an emotion that welled up deep inside of him which he fought off with all his life, as if it would make everything better. He brought the tobacco back to his lips and focused on inhaling the smoke that curled inside of his lungs lovingly.
He admired a large Monstera Leaf that shined like silver in the overcast sky. Water dripped from it’s pointed tip. He thought of his grandmother who loved making the Monstera Quilts which she had wrapped around him when he was a child. His favorite had been the blood red and white. A good child. Now he was an adult, maybe not so good. His wrist hurt and he wondered if they would hurt forever. He exhaled a smoke cloud and for a second his vision blurred. Smoke was beautiful in its transparency. It could never be contained or captured. It was simply there and then it vanished. It did as it pleased, and then it went free. He wished he could vanish and that his wrist would stop hurting. He wished he couldn’t feel the hunger. His wishes were neverending these days.
He looked back into the sky and saw that the sun was finally starting to come out. If it had been a normal day he would take his babies to the beach and hold his wife’s hand. It would surprise her because he never held her hand, but she deserved it. She deserved more than what he had brought into her life. The trees around him started to shake when he thought about his gratitude for the people who had never left his side. He shook back and concentrated on his tobacco. One last hit, long smooth, deep in his belly.
A baby started crying somewhere in the distance. He wondered if the neighbors had finally given birth or if a child had been adopted by a woman who made it her life to take care of others. He wanted to call his wife and have her sit next to him. He would have just stared at her and her beautiful thick black hair. The dark mole above her lip that gave her face so much character. He wanted to hear her voice when she laughed and sang. He was tired of hearing her cry. He was tired of the cries, and all the yelling. the wind picked up and shook the green surrounded him. He started to feel like he was sitting in white noise. The tobacco in his lips slipped and disappeared. He could no longer smell the smoke but instead, the smell of urine underneath some type of sanitation came back to him. Hunger overcame him and all he wanted was silence, sleep. Everything was too loud, too bright. He wanted darkness. He wanted to close his eyes and never open them again. Nowadays it pained him to wake up from the few hours of sleep he had. He prayed for peace of mind with his eyes closed. When he opened them he saw a dirty eggshell white wall. He felt his hunger more than ever.
Shibasan kept a close eye on number 1098. He didn’t like how he spent his days staring straight at the wall without noticing his meals or medicine checks. That was usually the first signs. Shibasan could tell that he would be another prisoner lost. Some of them just couldn’t handle the isolation. That wasn’t his fault though. He would never feel pity for the people that ended up in here. They were animals who deserved to be locked up. He was just here to give the order when these types finally lost their minds. He’d give 1098 another month. Then they’d start the punishments to make him eat. Right now a little weight loss might be good for him. As he passed the cell of 1098 he wondered what was going on in his mind to make him smile at the eggshell white wall carved with initials and markings from past prisoners. This one’s a goner.