One more hour and it will all be over. My last meal was delivered to me, but how could I
possibly eat at a time like this? And what would be the point? Why waste food on someone
who's going to be dead in sixty minutes? Think of all the food the prisons could save and give
to the hungry and the homeless if they would only deny people like me a final meal. At least
that's how I look at it.
God, how stupid I am. Look at what's become of me. Rusty old prison cell with chipped
paint, squealing rats that look like they've been here since the days of Abraham Lincoln, and
cockroaches popping their heads out of the mattress where the stuffing has come apart. How
could I do what I did to those people seven years ago? And I wasn't drunk or high either. I
had all my wits about me. Just didn't bother to use them. I might as well have flushed them
down the toilet.
And I might as well give my meal to the poor, pathetic looking rats. They will continue to
be around here long after I'm gone, so they deserve it more than I do. I don't even want to
think about what they're going to do to me in that room. I won't go there.
I'm just writing this letter for anyone and everyone who might care enough to read it.
Maybe by writing it, the hour will go by slower. But who am I kidding? It will only go faster--
that is if I can come up with enough thoughts to write down. Anyway, this is what I want to
say: DON'T BE LIKE ME. Trust me, you don't want to end up in a place like this for years and
then suddenly find yourself awaiting the electric chair. Or is it lethal injection? Who
remembers? The point is this: do whatever you have to do in order to avoid this fate. Go into
therapy. Buy one of those CDs that feature the sounds of rain falling or birds chirping--
whatever it will take to calm you down, cool you off, and make you behave like a rational
human being. Just do not ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, allow yourself to
morph into the monster that I became. And another thing: stay close to your loved ones,
assuming that you have any. They will help you keep your head on straight, if they've truly
earned the title of loved ones. As for mine, none of them have come to say their goodbyes.
They gave up on me years ago. Can I blame them? I suppose not, since I turned my back on
them years before that. But I won't bore you with the details.
In a way, I'm actually glad that it's almost over. I think about the countless fights in this
place. The attacks in the shower and the prison yard. The menacing sideway glances from
the guards. I'm only in my thirties, but those incidents have added about twenty-five years
to my life. I don't know whether anyone can see it when they look at me, but I sure feel it.
The energy inside of my brain feels zapped. I just don't feel the same way that I did when
they first locked me away in here.
Okay, I'm done bitching and moaning. Time for me to man up and--
"Mark? Wake up! It's seven o'clock. Your final exams start in one more hour!"
"Huh?" I rolled over in bed as I struggled to open my eyes. Damn, I must have forgotten
to set my alarm last night. Thank God for Mom, whose voice was coming from the hall.
"Okay, Mom, thanks."
Who was I kidding? I wasn't going to pass these exams. Too much socializing and not
nearly enough studying. I asked for this. How am I ever going to get into college with my
crappy grades and zero motivation?
Whatever you do in life, remember these words: DON'T BE LIKE ME.