Mary's life had never been what she had hoped
it would be. She had resigned herself to being
alone and lonely.
A good thing can happen to your heart once in while,
even though you may think that you're too old.
And sometimes, more than one!
Another long day in prison!
Mary had been coming to the prison for five years now, and it was beginning to wear her down! But what else was there to do? After all, she wasn't brilliantly qualified, was she? She was single - a “spinster” they used to call it in the old days - she hated the word, but wasn't that what she was becoming?
She had looked in the mirror this morning as she got ready for work, and although she was tired, as usual, she didn't think she looked too bad - at least not for her thirty-two years of age. She was of medium height, slim, quite fit (thanks to her running machine), wore fashionable small-framed specs, her brown hair was glossy, straight and pulled back into a pony-tail, and altogether, she thought she looked OK. So why wasn't there a man in her life, she wondered.
She couldn't avoid the recurring thought that it was working in this depressing place and doing this very depressing job! But there was a recession on, and jobs were still hard to come by for someone with just 6 GCSEs. Also, it was a factor that, as fate would have it, she lived only about a mile away from the solid grey walls of HMP Warbold - the local female high security prison.
'Very well,' he had said, and then, 'Good luck.' And that had been it. At least he didn't say “Shut the door on your way out!” But he had insisted that she serve the full four months' notice that her contract demanded. She had asked him whether or not she could serve less, but had received the same impolite reason that, she had learned, drove the prisoners mad as they tried to negotiate their day-to-day requirements. 'No!' was all he said. There was no explanation or apology for his not being able to oblige her. No wonder the prisoners so often lose their tempers, she thought.
It hit her that suddenly she was getting the “prisoner treatment”. That was typical of the sulky “with us or against us” attitude she had seen displayed over the years in the prison. Things were black-and-white here; no “shades of grey” exist here, she thought with a slight flicker of amusement.
Then, much against her desire to not do so, she braced herself to read the latest letter to the woman in C block from her loving husband, John.
The tap room resounded with “fs” and “bs”; embarrassing for normal people, but standard talk for prison warders. Perhaps that was why the landlord encouraged them to stay out of the lounge by offering a significant discount for beer in the tap room. She went up to the bow-fronted lounge bar itself, with its polished brass rail, sparkling glassware and tall padded stools, wondering (now that she had got this far) what she should choose to drink. There was no one serving behind the bar at that very second, so she had a moment to get herself settled onto a bar stool and look at the rows of bottles on the back wall.
Gin? Definitely too early for that. Martini? Much too old fashioned. Pimms? The weather was too cold for that. No, she would have a Campari - with orange if they could, otherwise with soda - which would just “hit the spot”. It was what she remembered her mother drinking - after all, she came from a good middle-class family, her father being the manager of the local branch of the Yorkshire Bank. One day, her mother had said (often), he might even be the Regional Manager. She lived in hope, as did Mary.
Just then the landlord came through from the tap room.
'Sorry, madam,' he said apologetically, 'bit of a rush, you know.'
'No problem,' she said, smiling, 'A Campari and orange, please.'
'Certainly - coming up,' was the unexpectedly prompt and efficient reply. Not a bad little pub, after all, she thought.
Mary is employed as a censor working in one of HM High Security women's prisons. Her job is to read incoming and outgoing personal mail between prisoners and their loved ones. She also has to listen in to their personal phone conversations. After five years of this she is, naturally, stressed. As the story starts, she is about to give in her notice, but at last good things start to happen to her. 🙂
This story is about a romance that takes place under the most unlikely of circumstances. Working in a high security prison is one of the most stressful jobs you can find. Mary started working at HMP Warbold as a matter of convenience because she happened to live close by. But as the years went on, she found herself stuck like a stick in mud. She wanted to move, but just couldn't get round to it.
Then, slowly something developed that made her have to bite the bullet and decide to leave. She knew she would never get a social life while she worked there. No one wanted to go out with someone who worked in a prison - or so she thought...
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THESE ARE A FEW EXTRACTS FROM THE BOOK
Good Things for Mary
Short fiction story
Good Things for Mary