A Decade Past
Morgan Jennings stood letting what passed for hot water run over her one last time in the Women’s Correctional Center. Her trial had been quite the sensation. Images and salacious gossip from her evenings spent in one of the local BDSM clubs had made it into evidence and gone viral. Her side business as an erotic romance writer had also been introduced into evidence. Her lawyer had argued that it had nothing to do with the embezzlement charges she was facing, but the prosecuting attorney had argued that it spoke to her character. Her inept attorney had put her character in question early in the trial and so the judge’s ruling stood even when appealed. Once wrongly convicted, Morgan entered the prison.
The first thing Morgan wanted to do when she was free of this place tomorrow was find a nice boutique hotel and soak in a hot tub. She had the shower room to herself—a privilege she paid for by not reporting the two night guards she referred to only as Fric and Frac. For the past three years when they were on the same duty shift, they routinely forced themselves on her.
Morgan knew they planned to have her one final time when they’d separated her from the other prisoners. I can survive this one last time. The two guards had very little fear that she would try something. She was scheduled for release the following day and they knew she would not do anything that might endanger that.
Fric entered the shower room first. “Well, princess, this is our last night together. Sure going to miss you, if you know what I mean.”
Everything in Morgan wanted to tear them limb from limb. Three things kept her from doing so. The first was it would do little good. The second was this would be the last time. The last was the package that contained evidence of their crimes. Once released she would see it sent to the proper authorities and the media. She had arranged for a detailed letter, along with samples of their DNA, to be delivered to the warden, the head of the prison system, and the press after she was released.
She closed her eyes and willed her mind to let go of her surroundings and the things that were being done to her. When they were finished, they led her away, making no effort to hide their guilt.
For three years they had terrorized new inmates, letting them know that telling anyone what they were doing to Morgan meant they would be next. Morgan had made it clear that if they touched another woman, she’d report them regardless of how many years it cost her. Many of the inmates told her she should report them anyway. Morgan knew it would do no good. She had no faith in the system and rationalized that the other guards knew it was happening and chose to turn a blind eye.
Maggie, her cellmate, hissed at them as they shoved Morgan into the cell. Maggie was doing life without the possibility of parole for the murder of her abusive biker boyfriend.
“You couldn’t resist, could you? You couldn’t let her have a little bit of peace?” Maggie said.
Fric grabbed his crotch. “Oh, we gave her a piece. But Morgan will tell you it ain’t so little,” he said, laughing at his own perceived cleverness.
Frac cackled next to him. “Yeah, we’ll miss Morgan. For sure.”
Maggie started to rush the bars, but Morgan restrained her. “Maggie, enough. Let it alone. I’m out of here tomorrow morning. No need for you to get into any trouble. It’s over.”
Morgan felt the tension start to drain away from Maggie and let go of her friend. Fric and Frac clapped each other on the back and headed back to their assigned station.
“I still don’t understand why you don’t report them,” whispered Maggie.
Morgan walked to the small window of their cell. She looked up at the full moon and made a silent vow to never be held against her will where she couldn’t see and feel the night sky. She’d once had a man tell her he loved her and that if she agreed to be his, he’d give her the moon. She had laughed and reminded him that the moon was not his to give or to hold hostage.
Morgan placed her hand on her friend’s forearm. “They’ve never touched me, Maggie. They may have had their way with my body, but they never touched me.” Morgan lay down on her bunk, pulled the thin blanket over herself and fell asleep.
The outgoing guard handed Morgan her personal effects, including an envelope containing more than $300. He said as he handed it over to her, “I think this is everything. You sure didn’t bring much in here with you or accumulate anything. But, I think your commissary earnings are the highest I’ve ever seen.”
Morgan removed what she’d need to pay for a cab to take her to the bank to reclaim what was left of her money and the interest that had accumulated over the years and then on to the hotel. She passed the remaining money back to the guard. “Can you credit this money to Maggie’s account? The rest of this shit you can toss.”
She owed Maggie. This hell hole had almost destroyed Morgan. Had it not been for Maggie, she would have readily and happily stepped into the abyss and taken her own life. When Morgan entered the prison, she had lost everything but the remainder of her bank account after what she had supposedly embezzled was repaid. Maggie had dragged her back from the edge. Maggie had made Morgan promise that she would put this all behind her, find a new place to call home and start over. She would live free for both of them.
The guard shook her head. “I swear, I’ve never seen a con as unrepentant or unremorseful as you. No wonder they didn’t give you early release or probation.”
“They offered but I wouldn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. And for the record? I’m not guilty, but I’m the only one who seems to care about that. I was the easy suspect and the easy one to convict. The fact that the courts got it wrong was never important to anyone but me. There is nothing to be remorseful for or to repent. All of you were just too stupid or too lazy to figure out the truth. Why is that? Wait. It doesn’t matter. I’m free.”
She pressed her hands against her cheeks to stop the tears that she refused to let fall and turned to go. She walked out and got in the cab. She sat back, straightened her spine and brushed the hair away from her face. She never looked back and promised herself she never would. No one would ever ransom the moon to her again.