The Mountain City of Bronzes
by Madeleine McLaughlin
I tap my head and wonder how could jail have been so much fun when I was a child? Back then, I remember noticing only good things behind the solid stone walls where my dad worked. Those idyllic times in our small North BC community shine with magic in my mind. Not like the vast, evil prisons I visit in the metropolises I now live in. Following Dad's path into prison guarding, I still learn from experience how criminals take advantage of each other's inadequacies and how much violence resounds through the walls.
Yet I'll never forget those years I spent with my dad in his jail, having a ball. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the cool stone walls against my hands...
The jail was a great refuge in June, but even in the winter, I found it pleasant to play in. There was so much fun imagining the structure when it was full, back in the gold rush. I could almost hear the walls and floors resounding to the voices of the thousands of lawless men that lived back then. In the large, empty vastness of our jail, I loved pretending I needed to find escape routes.
One day after tromping through the halls for an hour, I found a locked door.
Why is it shut tight? What is behind that door? I pounded and twiddled the lock until my hands turned red, but it was large and solid. I even once tried a bit of lock picking, but ran away when I considered how criminal my actions were.
I just couldn't bring myself to break the law and lose Dad's respect. It wasn't even possible for me to miss a day hanging about, as I just wished to be with him. Every day after school, I rushed to see my dad, the jailer for our community. My feet would bang along the path I had beaten down between the school and the jail. I needed to be able to hear his laughter when my breath puffed after landing on those granite legs, as he always let his good boy do.
Even in my struggles over homework, Dad laughed. Especially when he caught me rushing through my loathsome sums. His gentle heart allowed a boy the freedom to be imperfect. When all was done, I played as I pleased.
When paperwork about the jail took Dad's time, I was banned from the office. Exploring the narrow corridors became a favorite pastime as I leaped and smashed the stone walls, proving how tough a mere boy could be. My eyes widened at each corner because mad trappers lurked in my imagination. Of course, as the hero of my own stories, every confrontation became a victory for me. In my dreams, Dad congratulated me, and I became a big man like him. At the end of my play, I wound up in the same place. The door that was always locked.
Genre – Horror
Rating – PG
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