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This Human Credential

by  Tigger23

Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Word Count: 1500

This Human Credential

‘Jones, are you in there?’ questioned the warden.

He always asked that. Where else was a prisoner going to be, but in his cell?

‘Yes Sir, I am in here’ . I replied, as I had done every day for the past four years.

It was my fault I was in here. I had no one else to blame. It was my fault that the judge had found me guilty. It was a crime of passion. That was what they had said. They did not say that it was she that attacked me, or that it was done in self defence. I had acted in self defence, as I always had done in that relationship.

At times I look back and remember everything that I had tried to forget. There are a lot of bad things about Prison life. One of them is the amount of time you have to think about the past. These days I spend more and more time thinking about the past. At the moment, I see very little point in thinking about my present, and to be honest, I really do not have that much faith in my future.

The warden unlocked the door, and threw in the two letters I always got on a Tuesday. One was from my Mother, and the other one from my Brother. I looked at them, as the Warden locked the door again. Apart from these two letters, I had no other contact with the outside world.

Only my family had stood by me during the trial. My friends had all abandoned me. Of course, her family had the best and most expensive lawyers to make sure that I was put away for a long time. I had killed her, but only in that she would have killed me. My life ended the moment I took the knife away from her. I thought I was safe and she would leave, but she picked up the rolling pin and came at me.

It was my fingerprints on the knife, and her blood on my hands. The police arrived, after I had called them. I never meant for it to happen, it just did. They put me away for murder. I should have gone down for manslaughter, that was what it was, but the judge had said he had wanted to make an example of me, so that was what happened.

I opened up the letters. Although my own life had stopped still for the past four years, outside these four walls, the world had continued to turn. I was now an uncle to two three year old twins, who I had never met.

They would be ashamed of me. I was only in my mid twenties when it happened. I would be in my forties if I ever got out. They would be adults by then. Mum and Mark never mentioned it, but I knew that I had bought shame on the whole family. In years to come, I would be the Uncle that no-one ever spoke of.

Mum and Mark would continue to write to me, I know they will, and right at this moment, that is the only thing that keeps me going. These letters are my Human Credential. They show to me, and the rest of this whole world that I am not the complete monster that a prison sentence would suggest.

The letters showed that I was never alone, but after I read them, I could not help but feel a sense of complete abandonment. I had to wait another week for more news of people who I could barely remember.

The weeks had passed so slowly. I had been here for just over 200 weeks. I had nearly another thousand weeks to go. I was only about a fifth of the way through my sentence. At first, it was tough, but I got used to it. I still think it is unfair. At the trial nobody listened to my side of the story. She was seen as being the victim, but even two old boyfriends of hers had testified at the trial that she had been violent towards them as well. The judge did not believe them. He went with the physical evidence, which I could not deny. He said that the violence had given me a motivation.

I never really had a chance. It was all over the papers. The way that it was reported only made things worse. It is amazing and sad how easy it is for a person’s life to chance so drastically, because of one stupid mistake they make in the heat of the moment.

There is not a moment that goes by, when I don’t regret what happened, to bring me here. There is not a moment that goes by, when I wish that I could have done something different on that day. Even something seemingly insignificant would have led to a different outcome. Maybe she would still be alive. I would have been a free man. Nobody ever realises what freedom means to them, until it is taken away from them.

Many years, ago in our youth, I remember a conversation that Mark and I had. We were teenagers, no older, but he was already beginning to sound like Dad. Mark was always most like Dad. I remember at the funeral, only six years ago, how it had been Mark who had read the Eulogy, organised it, and then cried for a week. I just went numb to the world. I haven’t really felt anything since that time.

It didn’t really hit me that he had gone, until Mark had sold Dad’s old piano. It was a wreck of an instrument, and never really held it’s tuning, but Dad had loved that old piano, he had had it for more than fifty years, man and boy. The gap that it left meant that I missed him more. It was not like anybody else would have played it, but it was the principle of the matter.

‘I wish I was a sloth’ I had said, ‘Then I could just laze around in a tree all day, not care about how I looked or smelt, and just have the time to feel the earth move through space’

‘Well’ replied Mark ‘that is one step up the evolutionary scale from where you are. I would like to be a shark. I would be the king of the ocean, and everybody would be scared of me, but in your case, you should be careful what you wish for, just in case it comes true’.

I bet Mark does not remember what he said now. I wish that I could forget it. He was right though. I do occasionally feel the earth spin on its axis, and I am powerless to stop it from turning.

I cannot really speak to the other prisoners. Being a murderer, regardless of the circumstances, means that many of them are scared of me. These are people with a completely different moral compass to mine. Some of them have murdered people in cold blood, or robbed thousands of people of their lifesavings, or held up old people, or robbed houses. None of them seem to feel the same remorse as I do.

A lot of these people are career criminals. They have earned a place in prison with the scars to prove it. I am only in here because I was trying to defend myself in a relationship which went sour.

Sometimes in my dreams, I can see her. Her olive skin, and dark hair, her smile, her passion for life, but the dream always ends in the same way, with the sound of police sirens, and the sound of a blood spattered knife being dropped into an evidence bag.

I have to wait another seven days for more news. I would write to them, but it would depress them, and I know that it would depress me. My weeks always seem to be the same. I miss the freedom of being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I will be able to write back to them, sometime, but not now.

I look out of the window, across at the market square. The sun is shining, but there are big black rain clouds in the sky. It will be raining soon. It always does rain. Rain until tomorrow, when for me, but not the rest of the world, it will be exactly the same as today. The first drops of rain splash against the window, as the lights in the prison go on. I look at my watch, it is 5pm. Another day of my life has gone, and I am still no wiser, and still no better.

I re-read the letters again. They are my Human Credential. My one and only proof that I am not the complete monster every body believes that a murderer is.