Tuesday, October 20, 2009
White Death L1
The woman stood in front of the prison. The prison was a big, dirty building in the biggest town of a hot country. The woman was very hot, and she did not like the noise from all the cars in the road. She was an Englishwoman and she did not like hot countries or a lot of noise. She was tall, about fifty years old, with blue eyes and a long face. Her face was red, and she looked tired and angry.
She knocked at the door of the prison. For a long time nothing happened. Then a little window opened in the door, and a man looked out at her.
“Yes? What do you want?”
“I want to see my daughter, It’s very important.”
“Is that your name or your daughter’s name?”
“It’s my name. My daughter’s name is Sarah Harland.”
“You can’t visit her today. Come back on Wednesday.”
“No. I came from England to see her today. It’s very important. She’s going to court tomorrow. Please take me to her…now!”
“Wait a minute.”
The little window closed, but the door did not open. The woman waited in front of the door for a long time. A lot of people in the road looked at her. One or two young men laughed, but she did not move. She stood there in the hot road in front of the prison door and waited.
After twenty minutes the door opened. “Come with me,” the man said. The woman went in with him. It was very dark in h prison, and at first she could not see very well. She walked for a long time, past hundreds of doors. Then the man opened one of them.
“In here,” he said. “You can have ten minutes.”
Anna Harland walked into the room and the man went in after her. He closed the door behind him. There was a table in the room and two chairs. On one of the chairs sat her daughter, Sarah. She was a tall girl, about nineteen years old with big, blue eyes.
“Mother,” she said. “I’m very happy to see you.” And she got up and began to run across the room to her mother.
“Sarah,” Anna said, and put out her arms. But the man moved quickly and stood between them.
“No,” he said to Anna. “I’m sorry. I know you’re her mother. You can talk but that’s all. Please sit down at the table. I am here to watch you.”
The mother and daughter sat down at the table. Anna’s hands were near Sarah’s on the table. She looked carefully at her daughter. Sarah’s dress and face were dirty. “She’s tired and unhappy,” Anna thought.
“Sarah, what happened?” she said. “We have ten minutes to talk. No more. Tell me, please, quickly. I want to help you.”
Sarah looked at her mother. “Oh mother, I’m happy you’re here. I wanted you to come. Mother, I…I didn’t do it. It isn’t true. Please believe me.”
“Of course I believe you, Sarah. But tell me about it. What happened? Quickly. Begin at the beginning.”
“Yes but…I don’t know…When did it begin? I don’t know…I don’t understand it.”
“Why did the police arrest you? When did they bring you to this prison?”
“Last week, I think. Yes, last week. At the airport, when we arrived…The police stopped us and looked in our bags. Then…”
Sarah looked down at the table. “She’s crying,” Anna thought. “She’s very unhappy.”
“They …they said there were drugs in my bag. Then they took me into a room and told me to take my dress off. They looked for more drugs but they found nothing. Then…then they brought me here.”
“I see. Where were the drugs, then? Where did they find them?”
“Oh. They didn’t tell you?” Sarah stopped crying. She looked up, and there was a smile on her face. But it was not a happy smile. “The drugs were in a tube of toothpaste. A toothpaste tube with drugs in it…heroin…not toothpaste.”
“And you didn’t know about it?”
“No, mother, of course not. Do you think I clean my teeth with heroin?”
Anna Harland smiled. It was difficult to smile because she was afraid. But she smiled because she wanted to help her daughter.
“I know you don’t clean your teeth with heroin. You have very good teeth, Sarah. But…what about Stephen? Did he know about the heroin? Did he put it in the toothpaste tube?”
“Stephen? No…why do you ask about Stephen, mother?”
“Well, is he in prison, too? You said ‘us’ and ‘our bags.’ Did the police arrest him too?”
“Oh…no,” Sarah’s face was unhappy. “No. I wasn’t with Stephen, mother. You see, Stephen and I…well, we aren’t friends now. I left him about two months ago…and then I met Hassan.”
“Yes. I was with Hassan at the airport. Stephen was on the plane, too—I don’t know why—but he wasn’t with me. It’s Hassan—he was with me. Hassan’s important to me now, not Stephen.”
Anna looked at her daughter. “I see. And did the police arrest Hassan, too? Is he in prison?”
“Yes he is. They arrested him but I can’t see him. I asked them. I wanted to see him but they said ‘no.’ Mother, I’m sure Hassan didn’t know about the heroin. He’s a good man…he didn’t know, I’m sure”
“Then why was the heroin in your bag, Sara?”
“I don’t know, mother. I don’t know.”
The man looked at the clock. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Harland,” he said. “But that’s ten minutes. It’s time to go.”
Anna Harland stood up slowly. “All right,” she said. “But don’t be afraid, Sarah. I’m coming to the court tomorrow.”
“Yes, mother,” Sarah said. “Thank you. The police are bringing Hassan to court tomorrow, too. I think. You can see him there. He’s a good man, mother, and…I’m sure he didn’t know about the drugs.”
“Perhaps,” Anna said. She walked slowly to the door, and then stood by the door and looked at her daughter again. “Sarah…you are telling me the truth, aren’t you?”
Sarah began to cry again. “Yes, mother, of course I am. I always tell you the truth, you know that.”
Anna smiled. “Yes, Sarah,” she said quietly. “Yes, I believe you.” She went through the door and the man went out after her.
Sarah sat quietly at the table in the room and looked at her hands. “Yes,” she thought. “I told the truth, mother. I always tell you the truth. But I didn’t tell you everything.” She put her head in her hands.
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