Cell Block

Here’s my latest from Flash Friday vol 3-19. Based on the photo prompt below and requiring the inclusion of a kitchen, this story placed in a tie for first runner up with Sherry Howard. Here’s what the judges said:

The tragic story of a man trapped in a prison of his own making. This story masterfully integrated the two prompts this week, setting the whole tale in a kitchen which also served as a prison for a life-long sentence. The prison this man works in as a guard has damaged him, but less so that his secession from his life and his marriage. Matching the first and last lines took us from what could have been a pretty straightforward tale of a man at his post, guarding a prison of ice and snow, into an inner world of suffering and loneliness. The kind of a story which can break your heart, because you want to reach out to the characters and help them find their way back together, but you just … can’t.”

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It’s cold here, and lonely.

And quiet. Too quiet.

I’ve got a cup of coffee. I blow on it, but don’t drink it. I sigh a lot. Probably too much. It’s not fun doing what I do.

It’s kind of ironic really (being a prison guard that is). You know you are free because you get to leave when your shift is over. But it isn’t one of those jobs you can just leave at the office. It goes home with you and you play with your kids through it. So in a way, you’re not free. Sure, you’re not behind bars, but you can’t get away from it because it follows you.

Even in your most private moments you’re exposed. I stopped sleeping next to (and with) my wife months ago. Why bother I figure.

Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to be locked up, because then at least I couldn’t fool myself.

I’m locked into a job and there’s no key for me.

I look at my cup of coffee, hide my face behind my newspaper, and glance at my wife across the kitchen table. She’s eating her canned peas and carrots. I haven’t said a word to her all night.

It’s cold here, and lonely.


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