The wall before me frames a window and a small metal screen through which sound travels in a tinny sort of way. It is the window above that holds my attention. The filthy, scarred plexiglass that covers thick safety glass. And bars, but only on my side. This bridge between the inside and outside is the length of my arm and as wide as my foot is long. Hand and lip prints decorate the surface. This little window is the closest I will ever come to the free world, that place I forget about sometimes, until, at last, the door opens on the other side and the visitor enters.
I am transported. Death row is temporarily forgotten and my troubles pushed aside as we talk – conversation that informs, relieves and excites. As I watch this person oh so closely, my chest aches with a longing that cannot be fulfilled except here, through this window between worlds. That need is only satisfied by my visitor’s smiles and laughs and gestures. The weight of my sentence never leaves, but for a time the burden eases and I feel relief, pleasure. A genuine smile reaches my eyes; a laugh escapes with my grin.
Time is heartless though, blind and deaf to my hunger for humane contact. The visitor senses it, the grinding pressure that will close the connection between our worlds. When the visit ends it’s difficult to see the walls and the bars of that filthy little window that heals and strengthens as much as it pains me to remember where I am.