These Alcatraz cells have ovens and sinks. Refrigerators. No ice inside Father’s, just time, chilling the rations. Past the bars, Father’s new captor paces. She is a child. Her blue ice skates have frayed against her ankles, but she sharpens the blades at high noon each day anyhow.
Father sleeps on the top bunk, the furthest he can get away. The bed below him stays made up, though he once shared this cell. In the nights, the girl hoists herself up. Atop Father’s mattress, she balances on two hands.
Father sleeps on his back, his neck a vulnerable target.
The girl’s skates, poised for the incision: one drop, feet first, she will fit her nails into the slash, use her fingers to make two soft flaps that she can pull open. Inside, she will look for something, she does not know what, but she knows he keeps it inside of himself.
This is the girl who once groped for his hand in the darkness, then pulled a finger from its socket. This is the girl who swapped flowers for weeds, who helped build Alcatraz, her hands shedding baby skin into its base. This is the girl who stutters whenever it is time to cut.
Father hears the crack of her blades on the concrete floor, her knees and hands smacking when she falls. He sleeps again. In a dream: the ice skates, new, slip onto a child’s feet, his own hands tie the laces. In the waking hours, the girl settles back into her post.
Alcatraz moon lays low. Prison stones drip drop into pools of viscous bloody rust. A rowboat lurches. If they escaped, there’d be a thousand buckets to bail, just to get an inch of water out.
Eshani Surya is is a current MFA student in fiction at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she also teaches undergraduates. Her writing has appeared in Ninth Letter Online, Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, First Class Lit, and Minetta Review. Eshani also serves as a reader of fiction at Sonora Review. Find her on Twitter @__eshani