Clanging echoes in my memory.
Scraping on the wall and a wailing voice. “I’m innocent! You gotta believe me.”
Yeah, you and me both.
I shove a bite of cold mashed potatoes in my mouth. Tastes like crap, the aftertaste acrid on my tongue.
As I eat, I catch a glimpse of my pale face in the dull shine of the metal tray. Grimy, haggard, bones like broken shards of porcelain. Eyes dark and sunken. Emotionless.
Been waiting to die for 83 days now. Until today, I’d hardly seen a single other human during that time.
But I don’t care anymore.
The end is finally in sight.
Tomorrow, I will hear the creak of the cell door swinging open for the last time, walk down the rough, unforgiving halls once more, live out my final moments in this bitter world.
Another bite slides like a rock down my throat.
Why am I even eating? It’s pointless, seeing as how I’ll be dead in 12 hours.
I push the uneaten meat and potatoes away. I consider catching a few hours of elusive sleep while I can, but even that seems foolish and futile.
What’s the point of any of this?
A hazy shell of a face flits in my mind, but I don’t let it settle. That, too, is a useless waste of energy. I’ve already screamed my throat raw a thousand times, begging for some scrap of justice to be served. Or at least, one last chance to see her, talk to her, hear her voice. Even a letter would be enough. They would allow a visit now, in my final 24 hours, but why even hope for that when her life yet lies in the balance on a hospital bed?
The torturous thoughts are like prickling needles against my numb heart.
Justice is a myth inside these forsaken walls. Mercy and compassion, a joke. Time is stuck in a nightmareish loop.
Everything is pointless. Everyone has forgotten about me. Even God.
If he is out there, surely he was not thinking about me when he made the world. Surely he overlooked the mistake of my birth. Surely I was an error in the list of humans worthy enough to inherit the earth.
My mind turns ahead to the moments after they inject me and I leave this mortal cage. I wonder what I will find on the other side. Will anyone be there to greet me?
No. Why would they?
I’m a mistake. I’m less than nothing because I’m taking up space and breath that was never meant for me, that could have been given to someone else who actually had a right to it. I’ve been grasping at scraps of love and meaning that were merely faint glimmers reflecting off a mirror. An illusion. A teasing, cruel fantasy. Never meant for me.
Staring at the scarred, pitted walls of my cell, I think over all this, but numbly, impassively, as if I were only an observer of someone else’s life.
When everything is said and done, my existence will be nothing more than a number, a barely recalled statistic in the annals of history. The only person who knows the truth as good as dead.
As seconds, or maybe hours, pass, I strain my ears to hear the sound of footsteps, a lock opening, harsh light falling across me to lead the way to my final rest.
I hope the time goes by quickly.