Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Fredrik Öhlander on Unsplash

Most of the time there are enough distractions to keep certain memories out of your mind. But sometimes, when you are alone in your cell, old memories pop up, and they hit you with the force of a Category 4 hurricane.

One such thought came to mind the other night.

The year was 1989, and our mom had separated from our stepdad. My grandfather allowed us to move into one of his rental houses. It was my mother, brother, sister and me. We had two Pomeranian dogs named Charity and Porshe.

The dogs were normally house dogs, but during this particular time, we had put them in the backyard. My mother and I both had jobs, so we had assumed that my brother or sister was feeding them.

The house had a driveway that pulled up alongside the house to the backyard fence. I was the first to come home this day. As I got out of my car, the dogs were barking at me like crazy.They seemed extremely agitated.

It occurred to me that it had been a few days since I had even thought of them, so I rushed through the front door, ignoring the overflowing mailbox. My brother was watching TV, and my little sister was in her room. I rushed to the back door, and Charity and Porshe ran in and began to jump on my legs, barking and circling my feet. They wouldn’t calm down. I looked onto the back porch and saw that their food and water bowls were dry. I grabbed them, brought them in and immediately gave them water and food.

I thought to myself, “Has it been days since we fed them or even thought of them?”

Alone in my cell, when the distractions have run their course, this memory hits hard. But my sympathy has now turned into empathy because I can truly relate now to what they must have felt. Each night when we got home from work, they came to the back door to wait for us to come out and feed them, pet them, and love them. And night after night they were disappointed.

Now I am the one in a cage, locked up and alone, and night after night when the officer distributes mail, he never comes to my cell door. I just think about Charity and Porshe. I think I need more distractions.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

David Jones is a writer and the author of “Living in Reality: Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Prison.” He is incarcerated in Texas.