Status: this is an INCOMPLETE FIRST DRAFT, and has only undergone minor edits. if something seems weird just leave it be


In the Guts of a Tree

The door opened briefly and Lee’s lunch was brought in. A piece of bread, with a warm hunk of meat on it, an apple, and a cup of water. Lee wasn’t about to complain, they had eaten worse. They scarfed it down in no time flat.
The issue with being in prison was that there was too much time to think. Even with their daily work done - scrubbing one of the bathrooms, entirely unpleasant and yet so oddly rewarding- Lee simply had far too much time on their hands.
Millie would not be in to visit any time soon, either, which was a massive bummer. Lee missed their sister more than anything. They missed walking her to school in the early morning when it was still dark. They missed braiding her hair back for the parties they went to together. But most of all, they missed having someone around who understood.
Lee did not deserve to be here. They had books and all sorts of little tinkering projects to keep them from thinking about their false conviction. They had never done anything illegal.
Or rather, they had not done the one single very illegal thing that had landed them in prison.
Lee had not killed Starling Anderson.
The door opened again and Fiona, their roommate, came in and sat in a slump on her bed on her side of the room. Poor Fiona. She had never told Lee what she had done to land herself here, but they had their suspicions. Public intoxication, probably. She gave off that vibe, big time. It was something Lee themself would have done.
“Hey Lee,” she said. With the tone of voice she used regularly it was difficult to tell whether she was simply greeting them or about to ask something.
“Hey,” Lee said back.
“You missed visitation today.”
Oh. Yeah. Lee shrugged. “Ain't no one here to visit me,” they said. “Not today.”
“Not even that cute guy with the fluffy hair? Finch?”
Oh, not this again.,. “Finch ain't a person I wanna see ever again in my life.”
Finch was the whole damn reason they were here. Oh, how Lee hated him. Even hearing his name made them so unreasonably angry.
Well, not unreasonably, they supposed. Lee hated grudges, but this one was pretty justified no matter how you looked at it. The worst thing was that Fiona did not believe them, no matter what they said. Fiona was part of the problem.
“You know, I don’t know why you keep going with that whole ‘I didn’t do it’ schtick,” she started, adjusting so she was lying on her stomach with her face propped in her hands. “You’re here, sweetheart. Might as well own up to it.”
The look Lee gave them could have broken an iron wall. “Sure, sure, sure,” they said. “I ain’t ownin’ up to nothing I ain’t done.”
Fiona cocked an eyebrow at them. “Honey, you’ve got some serious denial issues here. I’ve seen it a bunch.”
Lee groaned, long and loud and exaggerated. “Yes, yes, yes. Now shut yer mouth.” They did not give Fiona a chance to respond, shoving their hooked nose into one of the books they’d been given to keep them occupied. Lee could feel Fiona’s gaze on them for a few minutes still. There was pity in it, pity and some kind of self righteous bullshit sense of right and wrong.
Lee turned a page loudly and Fiona looked away, rolling over to face the wall instead.
“I’m gonna take a nap,” she announced.
Lee turned another page in response. They were so not in the mood to put up with this. The book itself was boring, but at least it provided an escape from a conversation that was turned against them no matter what.
They hated situations like this. Lee was a firm believer in simply trying to get along, but with a roomie that did nothing but constantly antagonize them, it was getting more and more difficult to follow their own advice. They were wearing thin and it sucked. It sucked big time.
They turned another page, barely even skimming the contents. Some kind of barn dance, apparently. What in the fuck was a barn? Reading was too exhausting. Too boring. Lee put the book down and glanced over at Fiona, breathing deeply and even on her side of the room.
She hadn’t been lying about the nap, then. Lee closed the book and put it back on their narrow table.
Maybe Fiona was right. Maybe it was time to face the facts. Lee was tired of fighting every moment of their life. They knew it was going to eat them up inside sooner or later. They shifted their position, lying down on their narrow little bed. Fiona was right.
It was definitely time for a nap. Lee needed the extra rest on the days they could get it. These kinds of days didn’t come often, and Lee hadn’t been sleeping well. Like it was possible to sleep well in jail.
Who knew, maybe some people managed it. There were some inmates who seemed right at home.
Of course, it helped when jail was built the same way their apartment complex was, just more cramped and furnished far more starkly. It wasn’t too bad, they supposed.
The door opened and one of the patrols poked his head in, saw the both of them apparently asleep, and closed the door again. Quieter this time. Aw, how considerate.
Lee rolled over onto their back and stared up at the ceiling. All the negativity swirling in their head was oddly comforting. There was a lot of it, but it was all stuff Lee was sure of. They didn’t have a solid home or a real family for the time being, but at least they knew their own opinion.
It seemed they’d have to be careful not to lose that.
Too deep, Lee. Too deep. They reached up and wiped their nose on the back of their hand and sniffed. Maybe they were getting sick. That’d be a nice excuse to skip the cleaning if it got worse. That’d be really nice, actually. Hmm.
They rolled over again, on to their side this time, and brought their knees up close to their chest in a loose ball. That was comfy as hell. Except not, Lee’s face was smushed up against their pillow, pressing their glasses into the side of their head. Right. Glasses.
Lee took them off and set them on top of the book on the table.
Fiona was right. Nap time was a fantastic idea. They were asleep in minutes.