A/N: For an alphabet challenge ages ago. "N" is for "Normalcy".

I'm not doing myself any favours by flying off the handle. I know that. Your eyes harden with every word that comes out of my gob and I catch more than a whiff of disappointment. For once, an atom of common sense sparks to life and I turn on my heel and walk back to my cell.

Time. The one thing we all have- though cons more than anyone- has cooled me down and I can only echo your silent rebuke. Things get so magnified in this place, don't they? A word, a gesture, a look all conspire to mountainous proportions because we have nothing better to do than help it along. I know you know this, but I wonder if you understand it.

A life of regulations exceeded only by the military. Perhaps that's why I've been able to cope with it as well as I have –my father was a Navy man, after all. A childhood of 'yes, sir,' and 'thank you, miss,' until I rebelled in a way that couldn't be curbed by discipline or the strap. My sexuality ended up being the ultimate rebellion and rather than admit defeat, my father simply got rid of the problem by kicking me out at sixteen.

Tossing me into that kind of life, of fending for myself and having no one responsible for me but me was a bit like locking a diabetic in a sweets store. I had never known anything but discipline, and now I had nothing but freedom; freedom to speak my mind and have the first, second and final say in what happened in my life. It's been a struggle to find a balance ever since.

Nowhere is that struggle more evident than in this shit hole. It's like being a child again and- surprise surprise- I'm not coping well. Oh, the standard bullshit I can handle, but I've found a reminder of that other life, the one I had on the outside- the free one. You. Every time I see you, I recognize what I want. And every time you leave, I recognize what I don't have.

You, off to your life outside of all this. Off to a nice warm bed with a cuppa and the feel of thick carpet under your bare feet. Or off to the pub with friends, dirnking away the emotional dirt of a day spent in here. Or maybe just off to curl up on your sofa to watch an evening of bad telly. What is it that you do, Helen, while I'm banged up here in this miserable place?

I look around it now, this small box bereft of any real joy and it's no wonder you don't want anything to do with me. What have I to offer you? The irony is, the one thing I have in abundance is time. I have all the time in the world for you, Helen, just not the right time. In the same way I don't know you outside of all this, you don't know me, either. You see me here, a stubborn git unwilling to bend; a head-strong con whose gob is always getting her into trouble. And yeah, I'm not all that different on the outside of these walls- only my situation changed, not my principles.

But I hope I'm more than that, Helen. I hope I'm more than what prison has magnified in me. I wish I could show that to you. I wish for a different place and a different time. I wish for a sliver of normality. I wish I could give all that to you and more.

-end