There was a time when things were different. Not so long ago, she could not possibly have imagined the joy she would feel after locking herself back into a cell.
When she was little, her grandpa taught her magic â€“ real magic, not potions and spells. He taught her to manipulate perceptions, to create illusion. â€œYou have to get the sun in their eyes, kid. The rest is easy,â€ he told her with a sidelong glance. Grandpaâ€™s magic was gritty and real.
As she pressed the heavy lever on the drill, making hole after hole, she remembered the day he taught her to pick a lock, out on the front porch, the sun glinting off chrome bumpers on the street and the heat gathering under the shingled roof. She started on Grandpaâ€™s old treasure chest, where he kept his cards, trick knives, and his fake parrot. When she mastered the small keyhole, they moved on to the deadbolt on the front door. Within a few hours she could open it quick.
â€œYou could work your way out of anything, kid,â€ Grandpa announced proudly.
Grandpaâ€™s magic skills proved worthwhile in prison. She had an uncanny way of showing people what they wanted to see. Good behavior got her where she was today, here at this workshop out in the middle of nowhere. She worked through the afternoon, time seeping in a slow drip and the heavy air wrapping itself around the benches, spliced through with the electric jolts of the power tools. Her hands burned where they held the hot lever of the drill. The sun slanted low in the sky as they cleaned up their tools and wiped down their benches. Grandpa would have liked it here, she thought.
Before she headed for the dingy white bus, she slipped the sharpened sliver inside her sleeve. Aboard, she sat down near the front, staring at the sun through the window. The older womanâ€™s hand on her wrist jolted her.
â€œHi Amy,â€ the older woman said, as she slipped in beside her on the sticky vinyl seat.
Amy gave her a dry, knowing smile. â€œHey, Jill.â€
â€œItâ€™s killer hot today,â€ Jill said, and ran her hand up Amyâ€™s arm to her shoulder, then her neck, stopping at her hair.
At her touch, Amy got chills. She gave Jill another dry smile and turned back to the window. They rode the rest of the short trip in silence, Jillâ€™s hand twisting Amyâ€™s hair, pulling it.
Back in her cell, Amy shoved the shard of wood into her mattress, hoping that sheâ€™d be able to find it later in the dark. Time slowed down again as she waited to make her move. Finally, in the night, after the guards made their last check, she ran her fingers along the seam of her mattress until she felt the familiar prick. It took only seconds for her to pick the lock of her cell, moments for her to scurry silently to Jillâ€™s cell next door and repeat her lock trick. She wove her tool into the waistband of her pants.
Inside the cell, Jill stood, waiting. Neither of them spoke. The older woman lifted Amyâ€™s shirt over her head and dropped it to the ground. She pushed Amy back, hard, against the wall and ran her hands over her breasts, her belly, and down. She pinned Amyâ€™s arms to the wall and silently went to work, driving Amy over the edge again and again. Afterwards, after Amy had returned the favors, she snatched up her shirt, retrieved the sliver from her pants, and slipped back to her own cell, grinning now.
Grandpa had been wrong about magic, Amy thought. You donâ€™t always have to get out to escape. She stashed the shard in the seam of her mattress for next time and slept.
I picked up where I left off on this post for my submission to the Speakeasy this week. All the great feedback on my snippet really got me wondering about how much trouble this girl was getting herself into.