October 16th, 1994
When Daya was very young, her grandmother used to sit her on her knee and tell her stories about her teenage years in the Dominican Republic, how she would sneak out late at night to meet up with her boyfriend Carlos, who she later had Aleida with. Her grandmother was usually quite a stern woman, but she'd always had a soft spot for Daya.
Daya would sit there and listen wide eyed, hanging onto every last word her abuela said. She'd told her about when she and Carlos packed up and moved to America, making their immigration sound like some magical journey, when in reality it was one of the most grim experiences she'd ever had.
And then one day she turned Daya around in her lap so she faced her.
"There will come a day," she told her, "when you will do extraordinario things. Even if you don't know it now, eres muy especial, Dayanara."
Years later, Daya still held on to those words, thinking that one day she'll live up to her grandmother's expectations. Even when she was first arrested, she told herself that she could still turn things around; there had to be more to life than that.
As she was brought through the entrance of the maximum facility prison, hands cuffed tightly, she said a silent apology to her abuela.
When she'd first arrived at prison she'd thought she'd entered Hell. Little had she known, max made Litchfield look like a four star hotel.
At Litchfield, people, including guards, had cut her slack because they knew she was pregnant. Here, she was just another inmate; no one cared if she was raped or not. She was put right next to violent offenders, people who had killed and assualted others. What was stopping them from hurting daya?
"Room 213, Diaz," a female CO read off a sheet of paper.
"That's me," Daya said quietly, stepping forward away from the group of other new arrivals.
The CO unlocked the door and said to all of them, "You stay in your room all day except for meals. Every Sunday you get two hours of rec time. In two weeks you'll be evaluated and you'll have the opportunity to be granted an hour of rec time every day for good behavior. You're to follow the prison regulations at all times in and out of your bunks. These rules can be found in the book next to your doors. I suggest you learn them and learn them well." She gestured for Daya to enter the room, then shut the door loudly behind her.
Inside the dorm, there were three other women. One was sitting up on the top bed of one of the bunks, and the other two were down below.
"Who are you?" the one on the top bunk asked as soon as Daya stepped in the room. She had straight, choppy auburn colored hair, dark eyes and a large scar on her face, descending from just under her eye to her jawline.
Daya didn't say anything to her, just walked over to the empty bed and set down her things.
"Bitch, I axed you a question!" The girl hopped down from the bunk and crossed the small room to where Daya stood.
"I came from up the hill," she said flatly.
The girl snorted. "I came from up the hill," she repeated in a mocking tone.
"You was in minimum?" One of the women sitting on the lower bunk asked.
"Yeah," Daya replied quietly.
"You're not the one who got fucked by the CO and knocked up, are you? We heard it was a Mexican chick."
"How'd you even hear about that?"
"Shit gets around, even here." The third one stood up. "You got a name?"
"I'm Samson," she gestured to the women she'd been sitting next to, "She's Tucker." She glanced at the one who'd jumped down from the top bunk, then smirked at Daya. "And we call her Body Bag. We'll let you use your imagination to figure out why."
January 6th, 2001
The piece of paper in John's hands crumpled and creased under the burden of his tightly clenched fist as he stood outside the office door with "GUIDANCE" written in block letters. Apparently, in New Jersey, guidance meant handing a kid a schedule, saying good luck and have a nice day.
The crowd around him bustled noisily; groups of girls all shouting over each other, gliding through the halls as one big, chattering mass. A kid with glasses and a middle part, carrying some type of music case. Two middle aged teachers, both clutching coffee mugs in one hand, briefcases in the other, marching along, probably arguing over whether calculus or physics is more fun.
As John half listened, he caught fragments of conversation here and there: "Karen, I was only pretending to forget your birthday to surprise you!"; "For some reason, I'm really attracted to Uncle Billy from It's A Wonderful Life,"; "We're too old for this, Dan."
For the first time since the man who'd introduced himself as Mr. Dave handed it to him, John glanced down at the piece of paper.
Student: Bennett, Johnathan, it read, Sex: male. DOB: 9-26-86. Grade: 9. Locker: 113. Combo: 4-14-11. Homeroom: Kane. Counselor: Roberts
Below this, it simply listed eight classes, almost the exact same ones he'd taken in Albuquerque, only with different teachers.
Woodshop I, Algebra I, Freshman English, Physical Education 9, Biology, World History, Study Hall, Economics.
It seemed way too small there. His high school back in New Mexico had way more lockers, and they were dark blue, not tan like these ones. Also, he wasn't used to having just one floor, but he supposed a student body of six hundred didn't need two stories and ten trailers.
The short hallway that he stood in was made up of thick glass windows that revealed a snow covered courtyard decorated with little Greek-looking statues. In his mind he visualized the windowless, cement box he'd spent last semester in, but at least it was a box where there'd been a place for him. He glanced down at the paper again. Woodshop, room 120 with Mr. MacDonald.
He don't know how to get to room one-twenty from where he stood, between a girls bathroom and a library, so he figured he might as well cut first, period, and second while he was at it. It was a short ten steps to the nearest exit, and he took them hastily, pushing himself past everyone on their way to class. He shoved the door open, and stepped outside, hearing it close behind him with a thump, as he slumped down a few rusting, metal stairs into the underclassmen parking lot. Stepping off the curb, he crushed the piece of paper in his hand and dropped it in a pile of gray, gravel filled snow.
"Fuck you, dad," he muttered under his breath as he made his way across the lot, the winter air biting at his face and stinging his lungs. He walked off campus and onto a bike trail that ran adjacent to the road beside the school, and heard his dad's voice in his head from this morning.
"Don't go getting yourself into any trouble. I can still send you upstate to live with uncle Pat; I know he'd be happy to put you to work on the farm."
John had grunted some kind of reply as he passed by the kitchen where his dad sat having his morning whiskey and cigarette. On his way out the door he reached into his dad's coat pocket and took out his pack of Marlboro's. Remembering this now, he took off his backpack and unzipped the front pocket. Walking over to a tree near the trail, he took out the pack and a lighter, and sat down leaning up against the bark.
"What the fuck did you do?" Aleida spat at John the minute they were out of earshot.
"We were in the closet and Caputo walked in...everything happened so fast, I didn't know what to do."
"Well, you're gonna fix it. You're gonna kiss whoever's ass you need to kiss, and you're gonna get Daya and my granddaughter the fuck outta there."
He closed his eyes briefly and sighed. "I'm trying. I'm doing everything I can."
"Try harder," her gaze lingered on him a moment longer before she turned on her heels and walked off, leaving him standing there alone.