Eve opened one eye, the reality of where she was crushing in on her as it had every morning for the past eleven months. The weight that sat on her chest returned, and her mind filled with an image of Holly giggling while Eve tickled her. Eve closed her eye and draped her arm over her face, willing herself not to cry. If only she could turn back the clock. She took deep breaths, doing her best to push the image of the sinking car from her mind. Every morning she went through the same routine. It was relentless, but then she knew she deserved nothing less. A punishment every morning that tormented her until she closed her eyes again that night.
She wriggled on the uncomfortable metal bunk, wondering if she’d ever get used to the thin mattress and discomfort of prison. She sat and put her feet to the floor, stretching her arms overhead, taking care not to hit the bunk above her. Clarise would be sleeping, and she knew better than to wake her quickly angered cellmate.
She moved silently to the floor and began her morning ritual of stretches. She imagined the first stop on the day she got out would be to see a massage therapist. The kinks in her back and pain in her side from the prison bunk were a daily physical punishment to add to the mental punishment she brought down on herself. If nothing else, she knew the prison experience had aged her. Her body felt like she imagined an eighty-year-old’s would.
She planted her hands and feet on the floor and rose into a downward dog position, nerves twisting her gut as an image of Henry appeared in her mind. He was scheduled to visit today.
Eve took an extended inhalation. She’d spent hours thinking through every possible reaction Henry could have to her request to visit. She’d been more than surprised—she’d been shocked—when her mother had called to say he’d agreed to see her. She still expected he wouldn’t show. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t in his position. But just in case, she’d then spent hours working out what she wanted to say. She’d talked in her therapy sessions about her feelings toward him and the guilt she lived with every day, but speaking to Henry himself was altogether different.
Eve moved through her early morning rituals in a daze. Time, which always seemed incredibly slow each day, was marching past at a pace she hadn’t experienced since prison. It was amazing when you were reluctant to do something, or dreading the inevitable, how quickly it would come around.
Just before eleven, Eve took her seat at one of the large prisoner meeting room tables. The room was full now, the prisoners waiting for their visitors to be processed and enter the room.
She’d made an extra effort that morning with her hair and was touched when Clarise, who usually only grunted at her, had held out a small bag of makeup. She hadn’t bothered with makeup since arriving at the prison, which after years of doing a full face every morning, was a staggering change. Staggering that she saw her authentic self every time she looked in the mirror rather than a perfect reflection. She’d only used a spattering of concealer. Mainly to hide the dark circles under her eyes.
She only hoped she looked presentable. Seeing Henry for the first time since Holly’s funeral was daunting. He hated her, he’d made that very clear after the accident, and she didn’t blame him. She hated herself too, so they had that in common.
She took a deep breath as she sat on the edge of the chair, her foot tapping nervously against the table leg. She had one goal for their visit today. She needed Henry to hear that she was sorry. Not that sorry, or any words, would ever be enough. How could they be? Holly was dead, and it was her fault. She shuddered as this thought settled on her shoulders. How could Henry be expected to forgive her when she’d never be able to forgive herself? Although, she wasn’t asking for his forgiveness, and she needed to make that very clear. She just wanted him to know how full of remorse she was. If their roles were reversed, she wondered how she would react. She doubted she’d have it in her heart even to visit him, let alone listen. And that was what concerned her about today’s meeting. It was highly probable that she would be on the receiving end of his fury and have to meet the eyes of the man she knew she’d broken. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to handle that, but she knew she had to try at least.
She sat up straight as the door to the meeting room opened and the first visitors walked through. She watched as their expressions varied, some with smiles as they recognized their loved ones, others with stern frowns, no doubt unimpressed that they had to come to the prison at all. Her breath caught in her throat as Henry stepped into the room, his blonde hair neatly combed back, his deep blue eyes searching the tables for her.
She raised a shaking hand and gave a small wave to get his attention. Relief flashed across his face as he strode toward her. She swallowed, doing her best to smile as her hands continued to shake. She quickly withdrew them from the table and buried them in her lap as Henry sat opposite her.
“Thank you for coming.” Eve’s voice was barely a whisper.
If you’ve read Beyond Hope’s Ridge, you’ll have read the scene where Eve and Buster meet in the prison, which starts from the last line in the bonus content. If you haven’t read Beyond Hope’s Ridge but are wondering how Buster reacts to his ex-wife, then click here to read the whole story.