Nothing fills a room like emptiness. There may be a chair, or a hard wooden bench or a place to sleep, like a narrow bed, there is still nothing but you an bricked room.
There is a hard floor and a flat ceiling, walls, and a door with a small window at eye-level with wire mesh that intertwines within the glass.
Time itself, becomes anonymous. And so do you because all you are is a name, placed on a shelf, and regarded in sentiments like, “Hey, yeah, I remember that guy.”
And to the world you’re just a man in a cage.
Outside, the sky changes color. Outside, the sky has dimension; the world has depth and clarity.
Outside, the air is fresh and comes with the smell of different seasons. The autumn smells like fallen leaves and evergreens create remind us of the smell in winter.
Summertime could be summed up by the smell of the beach. One could imagine the sound of waves . One would imagine the cries of seagulls.
Inside, however, where you find yourself, light is reconstructed and becomes fluorescent. Air is re-fabricated and synthetic. Color loses its crispness to fading memory and the familiar touch of a woman, like silk to the skin or strands of long hair as it crosses a man’s face during a kiss is all vanished to a distant recollection.
Where you’re heading, names become numbers and people become case files.
Inside, men become statistics. Outside, children are born and life moves. Meanwhile, awaiting the day you rejoin the world, life slips away.
Out in the world, a baby girl takes her first steps. A little boy learns his first words. A kid learns to ride a bicycle. Girls jump rope and play pretend. Boys play sports, maybe learn to hit a ball or catch one (without you.)
But in the cell there is nothing but letters describing real life. There is nothing but pictures. There is nothing but hollow time and emptiness
I had to visit someone.
“I’m getting out,” he said.
“And I’m never coming back.”
I asked, “What do you miss the most?”
He answered, “My son.
His boy was a little more than two when he left
“What do you miss most about him?”
“Everything,” he said.
“I miss everything. He had this little laugh. And he always smiled when I came into the room.”
“Close your eyes,” I told him.
My friend shut his eyes, took a deep breath, and then he exhaled.
“I want you to picture a moment together with your son and see his face exactly as it was.”
My friend tilted his head to the side. His chin raised slightly and a then smile appeared. He inhaled almost like he was trying to smell the memory.”
“Do you have a picture in your mind?”
He smiled, “I got one.”
“Can you see it?”
“Yeah, I can see it.”
“Can you describe it to me.”
“I took him with me to the piers once. I took my boy like my father did with me when I was a kid. I dressed him up in his big down jacket and his knitted hat. He was smiling the entire time. I think it’s the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.”
“Do you see him looking at you?”
“He’s reaching towards me with his arms out so i can pick him up.”
He took a deep breath from his nose.
“Is he happy?” I asked.
“Yeah, he’s happy?”
“Is he smiling?”
A tear welled in the corner of his eyes, which were still shut. “Yeah, he’s smiling.”
“What do you think will happen to his smile if you explain, I have to go back to prison?”
The man’s face changed.
It sunk, as if the spirit in his heart and the air in his lungs had been taken away.
“He’s crying now.”
“He’s crying for his Daddy.”
This is what happens if you don’t change. Not halfway change, or change a little bit; this is what happens if you don’t turn your life around.
The day you go back to that life is the day your name becomes a number again.
The day you give in is the same day a child becomes fatherless again.
The idea of hope or redemption only offers itself so many times.
What will you do when the time is yours?
Remember, nothing fills a room like emptiness.
Unless, you choose to fill it with something else.
So do your time. Choose wisely. And come home safe because there are too many people that will miss you when you’re gone.