United States

Ridiculously self- pressured, hopelessly (and unsuccessfully) in love for three years, and scared to write the things that matter. And that’s me on a good day . Good luck.

Message from Writer

“Here’s some advice- stay alive.” Haymitch Abernathy
“I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if ... But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.”- Marilyn Monroe
“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”- Coco Chanel


February 23, 2021


The smells of cooking waft throughout thin, reed walls. Fat, smoke, meat. It has been so long since I have last eaten, my stomach hurts. My teeth gnaw at my nails, tearing them down into little stumps without my brain taking notice. By the time I glance at my hands, my nails are gone, and my stomach is still empty. Hunger is a strange thing. It will start with your brain, like a gnat grinding against a screen door. Feed me, feed me it whines, until finally, the voice moves into your stomach. Now it begins to hurt. A dull, achy pain that doesn’t go away until a couple of days later. I know hunger. It is a familiar song that I have sung too many times to count. By now it is a dull cycle. Day passes. I want food. Night passes. I need food. Sun rises. I am too hungry to get out of bed. Sun sets. I must leave, or I shall starve. Food arrives. I am too weak to eat. My mother comes. She gently strokes my hair.
“It will be alright bao bao” she promises while gently kissing my forehead. She spoons meat into my mouth, and whispers “it will be alright.” Then the scene changes. I hear my mother talking to the police. I cannot hear what they are saying, but then one points to the gate, with a wistful look at me,“Daughter? I have no daughter.” I scream. “NO!!! DON’T LET THEM TAKE ME!!!”
Today is special. I push myself up, ignoring the thudding pain in my abdomen. Slowly, I climb down from my bed, being especially careful not to disturb the other inmates. I made that mistake before. Losing a finger was not a pleasant experience. As I do my business in our adjoining bathroom, I practice. I compose myself. “Sir, I am much changed after my experience in our country’s necessary rehabilitation area. I know my wrongdoings and repent.” Repent. Repent. What a strange word. What am I repenting for? I repeat it to myself as I wash my hands with harsh bleaching powder before heading down to roll call. The sound of our national anthem, “We Were Once Equal” plays, gently covering up the thumping of my heart. It is supposed to be a reminder of what we lost, but today I find solace in the eery tones, sung mournfully by an inmate that died many years ago. She never left. Her ashes are scattered outside the prison compound. I watched them take her into the room with the furnace and bring out a tin can which they dumped on the ground. Her ashes mixed with dust and floated precariously close to the prison gate, like they were trying to accomplish what she couldn’t do in life. Leave here. But then heavy boots stomped over her and her remains were quenched in the grime. Even in death, a prisoner remains a prisoner. I can convince them I-
After I report for roll call, I am rewarded with a gruff “take this.” I look down. In the roll call officer’s twisted, old hand is the most precious thing I had ever seen. My eyes fill with tears. Slowly, gently I take the meal tickets, and glance around to make sure this is not some sort of cruel trick. When I see no one behind me, I bow, and mutter a  thankful “xie xie.” Food is only awarded to the most useful inmates. I take the meal ticket and stamp it into the machine. In return, I receive a large bowl of steaming hot oats. I take these precious oats and scurry over to the mess hall. There, I heat up the rusty pot and deposit my treasures, careful not to drop a single one. I add boiling hot water and stir, letting the gentle steam waft up into my face. With the prospect of filling my stomach, and staving off the gnawing hunger that always remains there, I smile. I have not smiled since my first day in Yung Gat Sen Prison, but for once I allow my lips to push up, cracking the dry skin around my face. Smiling hurts. Everything that is beautiful here hurts. I sometimes imagine that this prison of dark, deserted walls is swallowing me, sapping all of my life slowly away. But I shall be alright. I shall leave here, and on The Outside I shall have gruel everyday. I shall never allow myself to be hungry, or hurt, again. I will remember how to smile.
But not inside these treacherous walls. When I let my mind wander, bad things happen. Mistakes are not paid for with warnings, but with a loss in blood. Worse yet, it’s how I was caught. I shudder with the memory, and continue stirring my gruel. Then I feel in the darkness quelling inside of me. An emotion worse than hunger, the very [It pushes, aching to come out, just for a little while… but I must stand strong. Today is my Trial Day. I shall show that I have changed. That I am no longer an embarrassment to my family, a pox on my village, and a useless bug that must be stomped out of society before I fester and make children. As my mind wanders yet again, the darkness strikes. I fall down, down the rabbit hole.
“But I shall never wed!” I cry, tears streaming down my unwashed face and tangled hair. “I swear on my honor, on my life!” The judge sneered, and spit. It landed at my feet. I looked up, my eyes widened in surprise. No one had ever treated me with such disrespect. The judge, his robes as long and dark as the vulture sitting beside him smiled, like he could hear my traitorous thought.
“You had better get used to it then,” he whispered, sliding in close to me, his foul breath making me step back. “Where you are going, your honor is worth nothing. You are nothing. Your word is worth less than the lowliest roach. Your usefulness can be measured in an eye droplet. Take your choice, Bao Chang Zhao, dishonor to your name. Death, for no one leaves the court of the Vulture alive. Or a long, extended death in Yung Gat Sen Prison. I hear they have use for slaves.” With that as his statement, the judge turned, his deep black cloak billowing out behind him. The memory fades. I am back inside of the prison. I am lying on the floor, cowering. Beside me, my measly cupful of gruel lies overflowing on the mossy prison stones. Already roaches swarm it, feasting on the food. I want to cry. Today is supposed to be a happy day. Not a time for the nightmares. I glance up at the barred window, where the sun was beginning to rise. Now it is setting. I have lost another day. I know that the time I spent in the hallucination will come back to me. It always does. But now the damage is done. My nerves are taut, my confidence shattered. I have failed. 
They said if I could control it, I could go home. But I cannot. I scream, my lungs expelling every last bit of frustration, anger, and pain I have. At myself, at this prison, and at the world. What did I do to deserve this?



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  • February 23, 2021 - 12:04pm (Now Viewing)

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