Hug and Punishment

“Now you got some time to think, about what you’ve done.” Those were the last words he spoke before the door shut.
Think about what I’ve done? I have done nothing wrong, she wanted to scream. To let the pain she felt inside her very soul at the moment she spotted him on the streets erupt.

Spotting him hadn’t been difficult. Standing in the drizzle, you’d think the dark blue uniform would be a disguise but in reality the bright neon stripes would’ve given him away even in the dead of night.
And now she heard the sound condemning her to death, to a life within walls she couldn’t even call her own. She was to be forgotten by the world, a pariah threatening society with her actions and thoughts alone. Looking around, she took in the small room that contained nothing but that which couldn’t be destroyed. A small bed, a table, a toilet, the bare minimum to retain any form of human decency if you didn’t think about relieving yourself at the exact moment someone walked in.
She knelt on the bed, her face aimed at the window even though she knew beforehand she would see nothing but snow. Not the sweet kind you can see falling down like specks of soft cotton during harsh but secretly enjoyable winter days, but instead the type some might remember from an old television not functioning properly.
She had not been taken from the world, the world had been taken from her. By locking her up, locking her in this small room, they had placed her in the center of the situation they had enforced for so long now. So long that she had a hard time remembering the times as they once were. The times before this total isolation.

 

She had dreamed, about a marketplace full of people. Normally, she didn’t go to the market, it was easier to go to the supermarket but today had been different. The sun as bright, the blue sky luring her outside to do her daily groceries surrounded by others. She had lived in the suburb for years now, knowing just enough of her neighbours to have a handful of friends always close by.
“Hey stranger,” the voice was followed by a friendly nudge of another shoulder against hers, causing her to look up. A smile was close by and it was one she’d recognized in a heartbeat.
“Hey!”, her voice resonated the happiness she felt as she hugged her friend, holding her tight and close. “What are you doing here?”, she asked, knowing her friend had a fulltime job that did not take part at home. The other woman smiled.
“I took a day off,” she confessed. “It was just too nice out today. Life’s short you know?”
She did know, realized it on days as these. So she smiled.
“What are you cooking tonight?”, her friend asked while nodding to the bag on her other arm.
“Planning some chicken, but I’m unsure what to serve with it,” she replied.
“Let’s see what we can come up with then.” Linking their arms with each other, her friend dragged her along between the stands. She couldn’t help but smile again, being that there was plenty to be happy about. Surrounded by light, by life, by happiness in the form of children playing on the streets while their parents enjoyed the company of their fellow shoppers thinking equal thoughts on dinner and company. There was sound everywhere. Sunlight accompanied by the smell of fresh herbs and spices and the sounds of bickering, laughter, and playful banter, it surrounded them. Her and her friend, who was so close by that she could see every slight emotion on her face and feel the warmth of her body near her own. The reassurance of another human being near her, and others around that, the world was not a lonely desolate place. It was as it has been before she was woken up with a jolt, startled by the bang of the door bumping into the stainless steel toilet.
“Your lawyer is on the phone,” the officer said in the same voice as yesterday. He despised her, loathed her for her actions and her dangerous inhibitions.
Her lawyer? It took some time for the words to be registered by her brain. In fact, it took for too long which annoyed the officer. His frown deepened, adding more harsh lines as if there was an imprint of the prison bars he had to guard left on his face. His gaze hardened as he made a motion to close the door, locking her up again.
“No, no wait,” she yelled while scrambling to her feet. “I’ll talk to him. I want to talk to him.”
“Her,” he corrected her. “You’ll talk to her,” he went along as he stepped aside to let her pass. He was afraid, she realized walking through the hall. The distance between them was exactly two meters, whenever she took a step so did he and when she halted he froze in his tracks. With every movement he flinched like a scared little animal. If she bolted, tried a desperate attempt to get away, would he even stop her? Surely he wouldn’t tackle her, or grab her by her arm to stop her. That would involve touching her, getting really close by. Be at risk of infection, if she was a carrier. While the thought was entertaining, she decided not to. Her faith in a good ending remained, she had done nothing wrong regardless what this police officer in his stiff and stuffy uniform might say.

 

“So you’re telling me he caught you in the act?” Her voice made me think she was middle-aged and tired. Possibly of types like her, but she could be wrong. Maybe she lived like her, but she could be wrong. Maybe she lived in an apartment like hers, but shared it with husband, three kids, and a hysterically hyperactive dog. Who was she to judge, even though she was judging her.
“I’m telling you that’s what he claims,” she responded grumbling. She wasn’t listening, nor was she interested in her side of the story. We all knew how this was going to end.
“If he really caught me hugging my friend, how come she isn’t here with me?” She threw at her. It involved two people, after all, and she was the only one sitting her holding the phone to her ear to talk to a clearly unmotivated lawyer who she didn’t even get to see.
“Listen,” the woman on the other side of the phone sighed. “It doesn’t matter if he saw the actual hug. You walked out of a house that isn’t the one you live in, and you lingered in the door. Just admit what you’ve done and they’ll give you a warning and a fine. Just don’t let it happen again okay? One more hug and it’ll be jailtime.”

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