When I Lay Sleeping – ITFO Chapter and Music

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Listen to When I Lay Sleeping by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick/when-i-lay-sleeping

 

When I Lay Sleeping

 

Christmas came and went as though it had never happened. Jamie watched as other dudes were taken to see their families and then listened to them talk about how happy they were to see their children. It was good to see someone happy. A few passed pictures around from cell to cell, proof of the family they knew was waiting for them on the outside. Their families loved them. He was getting used to it. He didn’t expect family to visit. It was too far away for anyone in his family to travel.
     Fortunately, the kitchen fed them pretty good this year. Enough to feel full. That didn’t happen very often. Throw the prisoners a bone once in awhile. Keep them happy with a little extra real food instead of slop.
     Getting mail would’ve helped. He received only one card from his brother and he smiled when he saw it. He usually sent one at the holidays. He didn’t get one from anyone else, not even Sonni and it had been three weeks. That wasn’t like her. He was worried. He felt something was wrong. It was already January fifth. He was glued to his cell door, standing in it all day waiting for mail delivery. Every time it passed him by his spirits sank a little lower.
     He was tired, mentally not physically. He felt like he was turning a corner and it wasn’t going to a good place. Once he turns it he wasn’t coming back. He felt like he was left out to dry on his own. It was hard to keep his head up. The feeling of loneliness was overwhelming.
     Was it so hard to send him a Christmas card? Then New Years passed and now his birthday was coming up in five days. Yes, he thought to himself, this was the hardest time of year to get through. All it showed him is how the ones who say they care, really don’t, or they’d find the time to tell him.
     Jamie went to his locker to get a sheet paper to write to his brother, then sat down on the edge of his bed. He had to try to get him to understand, if he has nobody outside these walls he’s like the walking dead.
     Picking up his pen to write he sat there instead with the pen in the air, staring at the wall. He couldn’t bring himself to start writing. Most of the time he crumpled up his letters and threw them away, anyway. He’d get his feelings out and then toss the letters. They wouldn’t understand. Besides, they had their own lives to worry about. They knew they weren’t helping him get through this. He didn’t have to tell them. They left him to think whatever he wanted.
     Jamie wrapped his arms over the top of his head and clasped his hands together pretending he was being given comfort. He breathed warm air into the crook of his elbow pretending it was someone else’s arm holding him.
     When he laid down he thought to himself he was heading on his way out soon. Maybe he’ll go to sleep and not wake up. He knee that this type of thinking is his depression talking to him but he couldn’t shake it off.
Sometimes it snuck up on him. Then he has one down day after another. It’s hard to pull out of it. He knows he can’t take much more of this. He often found himself spacing out, staring at nothing. Then one of the other dudes would turn on his radio and he would find himself listening to it. Most of the music was in Spanish but that didn’t matter.            On his pod there were two blacks and twelve Hispanics so he just had to deal with music from Spanish speaking radio stations. It was cool. He didn’t know what they were saying but music is music and he needed it to help him think straight about other things.
     Trying to find ways to keep his spirits up was hard so he had to use any way he could to get through another day. He needed to find a way to smile and be happy. He could only do that by crawling into his head to find memories or else make up something about what he wanted his future to be.

Morgan was still in his head a lot. She had a way of hiding in the shadows. He wondered if she had forgotten about him? Maybe she didn’t want to write and waste time anymore? That seemed pretty clear. Their son will be six this year and he has only seen him six times since he was born. A son he knows but doesn’t know. It hurt so much because in the future it will be his father he hates for not being there when he needed him. That is something Jamie wouldn’t be able to stand.
     He remembered telling himself he would never be like his daddy. Shit, he didn’t even know who that was for sure. At least his own son won’t have to worry about who his daddy is. He was sure he’d want to know about him, wouldn’t he?
     Jamie knew he was beating around the bush, always saying he was going to put his pen down and give up writing letters but he couldn’t do that as long as Sonni was writing to him. She was like a mom to him and cared about him like he was her family. He couldn’t let her down. He had to keep trying.
     Still he felt like he had been thrown to the dogs and there was no way to recover because he believed
the statement, “Just because we don’t write to you doesn’t mean we don’t love you.”
     He thought he had a right to feel sorry for himself at least once in awhile. No one wanted to write to him or help him get things the prison doesn’t provide. They didn’t understand writing is the only way he could communicate with anyone. What other way was there? Phone? But no one registered their phone.
     How was that supposed to make him feel? He was in this cell because he made a mistake. But he needed to know people still cared. He couldn’t be the only person in his family to make a mistake. He felt like his whole life was a mistake from the start.
     He never thought Morgan would stay with him a long as she did. His heart was real tender and caring, and he cared for a lot of people who have stepped on him. He’s never been one to hold nothing against nobody and more than likely never would. That’s why he kept trying.
     He really needed to lay down now and try to go to sleep. He started thinking about Sonni. He knew she was sick, but he hadn’t heard from her, and she hadn’t popped in here to see him in three weeks. He was hoping she would feel better soon. He was sorry she was going through so much and he couldn’t help her. She would be blessed soon and then she wouldn’t have to worry about pain.

As he closed his eyes he had a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. It felt like butterflies and it made him dizzy even though he was laying down.

Jamie immediately started dreaming. It felt strange because he knew he was dreaming. He found himself walking down a hospital corridor but he didn’t know where he was or how he got there. Nothing looked familiar.
     There were no windows to see if it was dark outside, but it was so quiet he thought maybe it was the middle of the night. There was no hustle of nurses or other staff going in and out of the rooms and there was no one to ask him who he was looking for. There was no beeping from machines or lights flashing on and off outside the doors so nurses would know someone needed help. It was so quiet and it felt strange.
     Looking down at himself he saw he was still wearing his prison whites. Did he look like an inmate in case anyone saw him? He thought maybe he could pass for an orderly.
     He knew what room to turn into but he didn’t know how he knew that. He opened the door and quietly closed it behind him and walked over to the bed to see Sonni, sleeping. Should he wake her?
     At that moment he heard the door open again behind him and a light came on. He jumped and his heart started racing. He quickly turned around and saw a nurse walking toward the bed, pushing a machine in front of her with her right hand that held a blood pressure cuff and other instruments needed to take vitals. She had a clipboard in her left hand. What would she say? Should he not be here? What if she called a security guard?
     She didn’t say anything. She didn’t even acknowledge he was in the room and instead walked over to the bed and gently woke her by touching her arm. He heard a soft sigh as she woke up.
     “How are you feeling?” the nurse asked quietly. “Are you in any pain?”
     “Uh uh, no. I’m okay,” he barely heard her reply.
The nurse took her blood pressure and temperature and then turned her back to him to fill a small cup with water from the sink near the bed.
     “I have a pain pill for you,” she said when she turned toward the sink. In that tiny second Sonni looked at Jamie and winked. It was the first indication she knew he was there. Did she know what was going on? He sure didn’t. Jamie also realized the nurse couldn’t see him. That’s why she didn’t say anything when she came in.
     The air still felt weird. It had a thick feeling almost like moving through cotton candy and there were no extra noises like from the fan near the window or. . . anything. It was like they were in a vacuum. The light that was on near the bathroom glowed a little as if there were extra colors in it. Hazy almost.
      Were they both in a dream or was he in her dream and she really was in a hospital bed? Maybe she was in his dream? It was confusing. He already thought it was strange that she came to visit him at the prison. Now this? What was going to happen next?
     The nurse handed Sonni a couple pills in a little cup and watched her swallow them. As she pulled the machine back toward the door she turned and asked, “Do you want me to turn out the light?”
      “Yes, but leave on the little one near the bathroom door, please.” The nurse nodded and soon after she quietly closed the door behind her. They both laughed a little at the weirdness of what just happened. 
     “This is strange,” Jamie said. “Where are we?”
     “You’re in control of this one, Jamie,” she answered all smiling. “You came to see me.”
     “I did?” he asked with an incredulous look on his face?       “How?”

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This is the end of a partial chapter  When you subscribe to ITFO News to can send me an email at squick@mynameisjamie.net and ask me to email you the rest of the chapter or any other partial chapters I have posted. Please share and help me build a mailing list for when the book is done. I don’t hound your inbox. Most news letters are at least a month apart. Also let me know what you think about the story. Your input is needed. This is creative non fiction. His story and what happens is real, but I do get a little (a lot) creative when pulling the pieces together.

 

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What Happens After Prison?

turn back time

What happens when I get out? I will want to live right, get a job and care for my family, but because I have been locked up, everyone who looks at me will only see is a person who has failed. It won’t matter who I am or why. Do you know why so many end up back in prison? I’ve talked to so many men over these years who have been in and out and back in again. It’s because during the time they are in here all they do is talk about doing what they did to get in prison the whole time they are in here. They can’t see themselves living any other kind of life. Some want to change but theyj think next time they won’t get caught.

You are right, depression is an issue for many. It’s too much to put on paper, really. Just so you know, I talked to a lady from Mental Health. She sees the stress and depression in here. She also told me she saw some thinking errors in our conversation. Of course I had left out a lot. We talked about my mom. I’m worried I might lose her while I’m in here. That scares me.

Okay now, get this. I promise you it happened. I woke up at the some time in the morning, crying. I was really sobbing. I looked at my clock and it was blinking. I was afraid. It was fear of what will happen. I knew it was 3 something. I could hear the guards. They were feeding breakfast. Why was I crying? I had this dream of being called to the fourth floor of a hospital only to be told my mom was dead. I remember in the dream I called my brother Anti to tell him. Then I just broke down. Yes, some of it is fear of what will happen. The struggle is always hard.

There will always be obstacles. Where will I live? I don’t know. I don’t want to stay in a halfway house. Texas is not where I want to be, but it is where my son is. I’ve never been anywhere else. This is not a good state for me. I want to see what else is out there. Wouldn’t it be great to take a road trip and drive all over and see everything? How do I know where I want to be if I haven’t been anywhere at all except inside walls?

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Solitary confinement in the UK in the words of prisoners and staff

race pop in prison
Populations Percentage in England and Wales

I am reblogging an article I read at Prison Watch UK . Reading this makes me want to cry.  Reading about what happens to people who are locked up in inhumane conditions where they feel the only way out is to commit suicide?  Prisoner mental health issues is at a dangerous level. I know how bad it is Jamie and I know he won’t be released from it – again – for at least a year.  I knew it was bad in the UK, too, but I hadn’t read many articles about it. I completed changed the post I was going to write in order to put this out.  But if there is any doubt whether our justice system is racist, here are the numbers. This is England and Wales crime statistics. This is for the years 2009/10. Yes, it is a few years old, but these numbers and our numbers are evidence of what has happened since the prison industrial complex decided to use the world’s minorities as a means to increase their own greed and it needs to be stopped.

These stats are all for England and Wales.

Crime age 10 and older – white 88.6% black 2.7%

Stops and searches under Police and Criminal Evidence Act –
white 67.2% black 14.6%

Arrests 2009/10 – white 79.6% black. 8%

Prison population ( including foreign nationals) white 72% black 13.7%

race graph in prison

Sadly our prison industrial complex has spread to other countries as we have taught them how they, too, can make a fortune from their prisons. In the last 20 years their prison population has doubled and they have the same problems we have with the cost, elderly inmates and medical care.

The US has 5% of the world’s population, yet 25% of the world’s prisoners with 6x more blacks locked up than whites. As I researched, I’m reading that England is also very racist. Hmmm I wasn’t aware of how bad it is.

Please go to the original article. There is a lot of good information there.  Share this

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Prison Watch UK

Descriptions of the system from the inside 

Credit: Prison Reform Trust Credit: Prison Reform Trust

We did a post a couple of weeks ago about the solitary confinement of prisoners in Britain. We wrote about the damage to both their physical and mental health caused by long periods in segregation units and Close Supervision Centres (CSC).

But now prisoners and staff tell the story in their own words.

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