Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love from the Inside

Jake was anxious to meet her. His palms were sweaty and he kept rubbing them on his jeans. He ran his fingers through his hair before stubbing out his cigarette. There were only 3 hours left before their meeting. He wasn't sure what to do with them. The town was small. Main street was about 8 blocks long. There was a diner, an antique store, two gas stations, a bank, small grocer, salon, book store, strip club, three bars, and a church. The rest of the buildings appeared to be abandoned. He saw signs for a bike path. He went to explore it, but without the care it needed, the path resembled more of a rough terrain hiking path.

He decided to take his Hog to the next town about 20 miles north. Maybe there would be something to pass his time there. Pushing the kickstand off the ground, he revved his engine and set on his way. It was a hot muggy day and he could feel the water particles plaster against his skin as he raced along the crumbling highway. The scenery was picturesque but of little interest to him. Jake preferred the concrete abundance and anonymity of big cities.

Fifteen minutes later, he cruised into Russelville, Arkansas. The town was medially bigger, but it played host to freeway travelers and therefore boasted a slightly more upscale choice of amenities. He found a Carl's Jr and sought shelter from the heat. Ordering a coke, he sat at the small table in the only corner of the restaurant not to have a window. He slumped down in the seat, laying his head back against the cool tiles. He pulled out another cigarette and a carefully folded stack of papers. If anyone called them love letters, Jake would probably punch the offender in the face.

Still, he treated them with respect, unfolding them gently and smoothing down the wrinkles from frequent handling. He began reading the top one even though he had it memorized for over a month.

My Dearest Jake,

I went to my meeting this afternoon. I was terrified. I've had so many and none of them ever resulted in good news. Imagine my surprise to hear I earned parole! I'll be released on Tuesday, February 14th. I have no desire to see anyone from my former life. I consider that dark part of my life firmly in the past. You are the bright spot, my future. At least, I hope you are. I'm hoping to see you at noon that day, with your arms open wide and an offer of a life together.

With Hope, Desire, and Love

He hadn't responded until three weeks later and Jake couldn't be sure she had received the response. He didn't know what to think. He'd been writing to her for 6 years, ever since his college psychology professor told his students about the pen pal program for battered women sentenced for crimes of self-defense. Unlike his peers, he never stopped writing. Slowly, he began to see her as more than a psychology experiment and as a human being who had been betrayed by the judicial system. Even more slowly, he had fallen for this woman.

But it was a safe affair as long as she was incarcerated. There were no day to day life issues. No arguments over who watched the kids or which event to attend. There was nothing shared other than ink, paper, and thoughts. Could he really commit to someone who was as tangible as a character in a book? He didn't know. But, if he could maintain a relationship in this fact, would it be that much harder to attach a physical body to it? One he could touch, hear, smell, taste, and talk to?

Two hours and 156 letters later, Jake was riding back toward the prison. He parked his bike in the dirt lot outside the large gate, balancing his weight on it. His heart beat like the bass drum in a marching band, keeping a steady rhythm. He focused on the rhythm and matched his breathing to its steadiness. In a few minutes, Josephina would be walking through the gate. He wouldn't guarantee her a life together, but he could give her, and himself, an opportunity.


  1. I like this story. Very sweet and thoughtful.

  2. Oh my goodnesss!!!! PLEASE continue with this one!!! I must know about Joesphine and Jake! Love this. Love the details. Love the whole thing.