Song is: Paradise (Not for Me) by: Madonna.

~*~

Part 1

I can't remember
When I was young
I can't explain
If it was wrong
My life goes on
But not the same
Into your eyes
My face remains

Sometimes, when it's late and there is silence except, maybe, for the occasional cry or shout from some nightmare or the squeak of springs as someone turns over on a thin cheap mattress, Faith feels like she's been here since the beginning of time. It is those times when all she can remember are the sounds of metal clinking against metal, and being grabbed hard, pulled in and shoved down on cold tile by some ignorant inmate who is always surprised by her strength and reflexes. All she can do is routine. She wakes, she works, she eats, she exercises, she smokes, she eats, and she sleeps. It all repeats over and over, day in day out. She reads, when she is allowed into the library of the Los Angeles County Women's Penitentiary. Her favorite books are the ones she remembers from grade school. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe; The Indian in the Cupboard, The Borrowers. They are the only children's books in the library and she reads them cover to cover, alternating between each secret world.

On the nights when she can't remember life before bars, she goes beautifully numb after awhile. She's frozen in her bunk over a snoring inmate whose name she always thinks is Cindy, but is in fact Laura. Three years and she still can't recall the names. She can't move on those nights, becoming a claustrophobic trapped inside her body. The numbness takes her over and after a long while, faces materialize, events recall themselves, and she remembers. Oh yes, there was life before LAC Women's Pen...and it was Hell. She feels all of it again--wood, sharp and pointed, piercing human flesh; blood coating her hands, *I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I...*; running, screaming, praying to something she can't identify because she was never taught religion but God she needs it now; and hazel eyes on a heart shaped face framed by blond hair. And the numbness subsides with that last image of a girl she will never see again.

Her heart always pounds as memories fade into oblivion once again and she settles herself back into the peaceful ignorance of non-remembrance. The prison shrink calls it memory repression. Faith calls it smart. She doesn't remember, because it makes the next rest of her life a little more bearable. Because she's most *definitely* here for the rest of her life. So...she forgets, until those nights when it's silent and the numbness settles in and there are no pretend worlds to live in. And it's good, for now, until she sees that face again. But until then, Faith is fine with forgetting.