Unslept prison-guard sleeps in his office of wire-chair. She says in a voice gripping
I’d like to enter please. The desk inside the foyer empty. She is pressing the
with soft finger tip, the bell-sound lances the room. A blue-uniform stumbles out
a fake-wood door. Slow slurred slinky. His voice coils strangely, Please sign in,
commands and shuts the door. Waves of loud laughter seep out from behind
door. The woman relinquishes her Hancock. Minutes slide down the yellowing
The Blue-uniform emerges, a line of spittle quivering on his lower lip, he says,
not really the desk-guy. His smile is a blank check. Where’s the desk guy she
I can’t find your father, he says. I know he’s here, she says. If he’s not on the
he says, he’s not here. Quiver-smile. He slides a distending tongue across the
of his distending lip. She adjusts her mouth to speak, his plastic sneakers squeak,
slinks out. Waves of laughter soak the woman in a black wave. Dripping.
in the splitting sunlight. Daddy is standing in the corner of the prison-yard. Daddy!
calls out. Daddy is encroaching the chain-link fence, his eyes are littering his
His orange jumpsuit reads COCA-COLA across the breast. I’ve been working all
he says briskly, his face hung in syrup and grease. She says, Dad I came here to
you something. He says, That’s great, glancing at the prison guard near the
Come back during visiting hours. An alarm is bouncing into the prison-yard, it
against the chain-link fence and drips off Daddy’s face turning. His hands, choking
fence, are cracked with COCA-COLA syrup. He says, I hope I’ll see you sometime
I’m sorry. He is turning. The smog stirs the trickling ends of her hair. She says,
I understand. Her Father slithers inside a shapeless grey building, a long shapeless
of prisoners. Empty yard, empty woman. At the desk again the forms shapeless.
is unseeing the walls buzz, the orchestra of florescent lights peel yellow and
above her head, the Blue-collar is poured, slumped, against his wood desk shivers in
sleep, his snore fetters the air like perfume, a window opening, his dream unrolls like
fish in the space she stands clam-like, unseeing the walls buzz, unseeing the lights
overhead the shapeless form, unseeing the Blue-collar froth in his sleep. She is
seawater across her clipboard, smearing her ink signature, her body flood. A trail of
is marking her exit, a snail’s intoxicating signature.
Vanessa Saunders is the editor-in-chief of Helium Journal. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is currently an MFA candidate at LSU. She has previously been published in Stockholm Literary Review, Lighthouse journal, Haight Ashbury Literary, and others.