Drama Creative Nonfiction

“Do you have to go Daddy?” squeaked the voice of a little girl. Her tone echoed with innocence and scarred the man sitting in front of her uncomfortably. His bright orange jumpsuit with an inked number on the front pocket was once quite bizarre to little Annie’s eyes, but she had grown used it over the course of the past 3 years. She used to question him on why he never wore anything else, but over time she gradually realised that in prison, people cannot choose what they want to wear and what they don’t. Yes, she was indeed wise for her age. Her mind had come to terms with her father’s arrest but not her heart. ‘Daddy is not a bad man’ she often told herself out of sheer hope, hoping her aching heart will seize it’s unbearable tantrums.

‘ They have got the wrong man, that’s it. Daddy will come home soon’ , she repeated every night before she went to sleep. It was her ‘mantra’ in a way.

The man in front of her was quite tall, with jet black eyes shining down at the world before him.  His hair wasn’t exactly groomed, and he didn’t exactly fit the category of ‘clean’. His haggard appearance and unkept beard gave him a gangster vibe of some sort. He looked tough and unbreakable. But every strength has it’s own weakness. An Achilles heel, if you will. And his, was sitting in a pink floral gown right before him.

“HEY WAGNER! YOU DON”T HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD YOU KNOW? GET BACK TO YOUR CELL THIS INSTANT!”, yelled a voice from nearby. The shrill sound sent shivers down little Annie’s spine and a frown down the man’s. How he wished he could run home with his daughter, braid her hair, take her to school, take her out during holidays, and just show her that she is never alone. But, instead he found himself reluctantly heading away from her and into a cold metal cell, with cemented and barred walls. A father’s nightmare: missing out on his kid’s childhood.

He dropped down on his stiff bed and sighed to himself. He shut his eyes and began dreaming of all the things he is missing out on. He pictured himself reading his daughter a bed time story and tucking her in bed. He imagined kissing her on her forehead and heading out the door. He fantasized her wishing him on father’s day and dreamed about taking her out for ice cream. Silent tears trickled down his eyes with every image.

“TRRRINGGGG!” rang the alarm, bringing him back to his unfortunate reality. It was time for dinner, he dragged his lifeless body into the cafeteria. It reeked of misfortunes and spoilt lives. As he grabbed his tray of dreary foods, he wondered, ‘What would Annie be eating now?’.

He spent the next half an hour coming up with exotic dishes that he should recommend his daughter to try the next time he sees her, as he painfully choked down his desperate meal.

When he got back to his cell, he was feeling a bit more hopeful. 2 more years left in his sentence and then he would go back home. He would go back to Annie again, he would mend things with his wife, and they would all finally be a family!

Family. The word resonated in his head and was somehow soft enough to make him forget about his spiky bed. And it was somehow warm enough to protect him from the intensity of a midnight storm. Yes, a family was indeed everything he dreamed of, but never had.

The next morning he woke up to the usual; a brittle bed, a snoring inmate, a grumpy ceiling. But he was in for a turn when he reached the common room to find a big white sheet hanging on the notice board. He felt his stomach in turns, without even reading it yet. A huge crowd of muscled macho men stood in herds, gathered in front of the area. As soon  he was visible in their line of visibility they threw him up in the air congratulating him. Cheerful chants filled the air and the once ghosted and misanthropic hallway turned into a grand social get- together.

The confused man made his way to the board only to see a list of people.

“John, Joseph, Prancer….” He went on, only to realise it was a list of a selected group of inmates. His heart began racing faster than ever as he read the notice on top.


The Man felt a faint coming over him, is this really happening? Is there really hope? Is this the light at the end of the road? Nearly 4 years it had been since he tasted freedom. He scanned through the list, name after name , line after line, with his heart rate increasing along with each serial number. The very last line of the page, the very last name : ALEX WAGNER.

Could this really be his ticket to happiness? Alex was on an emotional high. So many different feelings erupted from within. Pictures of Annie replayed over and over again. He could also see another woman, Beth, his wife. She looked as beautiful as the day he met her. Her golden brown, wavy hair blew with the wind and her crystal blue eyes radiated hope. He wanted to hold her in his arms again. Hug her until the end of time. Hold her hand and visit all their favourite places from high school. He desperately wanted a second chance as a husband and as a father.

Tears of happiness silently escaped his eyes. Alex was speechless. He looked up at the grumpy ceilings, that for the first time appeared angelic. He got down on his knees and prayed. The other inmates stared at him, but didn’t dare interrupt. They were happy for him. He had been through so much that he deserved every damn bit of this.

A few moments later Alex opened his eyes only to say,

“Daddy’s coming home Annie..”

June 02, 2020 17:12

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21:39 Jun 10, 2020

This is a really sweet story and I think it's very inspiring. But also a little bit unrealistic. I feel like it would be even more moving if Alex was given the chance to earn his way out of prison. Spending extra hours cleaning, doing laundry, etc. This would also make it more believable. Have Alex in a conversation with one of the guards/policemen that he looks up to. Maybe this guard/policeman has always believed Alex has a good heart and has changed since his sentence. Maybe he wants to give this chance to Alex because he knows he wants a...


Mahathi Sathish
04:43 Jun 11, 2020

Hey Margaret, Thank you so much for your feedback! Yes, I completely understand your points, they are certainly valid and I will consider it the next time I write a story in this genre. Overall I'm glad you liked it and appreciate your critique!


13:19 Aug 13, 2020

You're welcome!


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