She awoke that morning in a cold hotel room. The sleeping pills had done their job and she had not moved. It was time. She went through the motions of getting ready but everything was a fog. Her friend had told her to go in looking as well put-together as she could but she didn’t have the strength for beauty. It was all she could do to slip on the outfit her mother had sent and run a brush through her hair. Ready or not, it was time.
They made their way to the elevator and to the bottom floor. Her eyes were constantly scanning their surroundings waiting to be recognized. Waiting to be thrown to the floor and handcuffed. After all, she was a criminal on the run.
The day before they had made contact with an attorney. He said to stay put at her parents and meet him at his office nearly four hours away the next morning. They made a plan to drive to her home and stay for the night but while en route, her husband called to say the police were at their door yet again. Every few hours they would stop by to see if she was home. To take her into their custody and arrest her. To have the glory of being the ones who caught her.
A million scenarios ran through her mind but what she could not handle was the thought of her children witnessing it. Seeing her handcuffed and shoved into a police car. She couldn’t bear the thought of her babies being scarred by such a memory. She looked at her father and said, “we have to run”. It was the first decisive move she had been able to make since it all began. He nodded. Within minutes, a new plan was formed. Her mother took her children in one vehicle to her home as planned but the other vehicle carried her father and herself. They drove a roundabout way and avoided the county in which she was wanted. They checked into a hotel for the night. A wanted woman. An outlaw on the run. How did this ever come to be?
Her husband met them at the attorneys office. It was a chilly morning. A bleak morning. She watched as people went about their busy lives and wondered if she would ever be that innocent again. They made their way inside. It was beautiful. Ornate. A mansion. She looked at each piece of art or expensive decor and thought, “that was bought by a broken woman” or “that was purchased because of a terrified man”.
She didn’t speak much. She didn’t have anything to say. And the strength to speak without tears was almost impossible to come by. She listened to the attorneys talk through her case with her husband and father. She cringed at how awful it all sounded. She felt extreme guilt. She felt extreme fear.
Eventually they took her separately. She answered their questions with a shaky and small voice. In half sentences and broken words. She shook relentlessly. Her hands twisting in her lap unable to grasp anything real. She remembers little of this though their is a transcript from the day. But when asked what she wanted, she clearly remembers asking them to end this as soon as possible with the least amount of damage on her family. She hadn’t a clue on what was to come.
She was escorted into the ornate lobby where the bonds woman was waiting on her. She shuffled out of the building and into her fathers car. They followed the bonds woman into a neighboring county known for being quiet and unbusy. They parked outside her office and made their way inside where the terms of turning herself in were laid out before her. She was told to shed anything that was unnecessary. She pulled her purse over her shoulder and handed it to her father. She pulled her wedding ring off of her finger and handed it to her husband. She sat her phone down.
With strength she did not feel, she stepped out into the sunshine trailing the bonds woman and leaving her father and husband behind. It was a short walk to the jail. A grey stone building. They made their way inside a large room used for vehicles and such. Garage doors and small offices. She was handed off by the bonds woman and then it was just her left to face what was to come.
She stood in front of a wall with a height chart and yet they did not take her picture there. They held handcuffs and yet they did not place them on her once. They asked her questions she feebly answered. And then they walked her through some narrow doors into a room divided. One side was a giant platform lined with computers. She came to stand still in front of this with her back to the other side. The side that contained rows of rooms filled with inmates in orange and the only thing separating them from her were the bars on their doors. She kept her head down and yet held high. Her shoulders squared. She willed her body to stand tall. She reminded herself over and over that this was not the place to cry. She constantly worked on swallowing the lump in her throat as they went through the process of booking her. It was devastating. It was demeaning.
When it was all done, she alone found her way back to her father and husband. The last of her energy was draining. Her legs going weak. Her head pounding with the effort it took to hold back the tears. She slid into the front seat of her fathers car, eyes glazed over. She remembers he took her hand and it took all her effort to lift her eyes to look at him and he said, “Don’t give up on me yet, baby girl. Don’t give up on me yet.”