She sat down on the uncomfortable, plastic chair. The room was cold. Paula Campbell wished she had worn a heavier top. She wrapped her arms around her frame and rubbed heat into them.
The guards watched her. She wasn’t an inmate at the Montefort Prison for women but she couldn’t help but feel the guards were suspicious of her.
When her sister was led in Paula’s breath caught in her throat. Tracey was the younger of the two. Her usual sci fi T shirt and stone washed jeans had been replaced by an orange jump suit. Tracey’s short, stocky frame didn’t wear the outfit well.
Tracey was seated across from her sister. She rested her cuffed hands on the table. Her brown hair was pulled back in a tight pony tail.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Tracey said.
Paula shook her head. “Neither of us should be here.”
Tracey’s lips stretched into a smile. She had a pretty face with warm blue eyes but Paula couldn’t help but think she didn’t recognise the person sat across from her.
“Tell me it isn’t true,” she urged. “The things they said you did.”
Tracey raised her hands demonstrating the cuffs.
“They don’t put you in this flattering attire and give you free digs at this five star hotel for nothing,” she said sarcastically.
Paula was glad Tracey hadn’t lost her spirit. It was something of a comfort.
Tracey had been studying to become a doctor. She had always been studious and aimed for the stars. She had a more promising future than her elder sister. Paula couldn’t help but wonder where it all went wrong.
“How could it have come to this?” Paula asked.
Tracey raised her eyebrows.
“Clearly I’m not as good as I thought I was.”
When her sister shook her head she added, “They wouldn’t let me finish my final exam. The bastards arrested me right in the middle of it. I would have gotten an A for sure.”
Paula interrupted. “After what you did it wouldn’t make a blinding bit of difference! They would never let you become a doctor.”
A large woman in a guard uniform unfolded her arms and looked over at them. Paula calmed herself and lowered her voice.
“You still haven’t denied it,” she said in a stern big sisterly tone as though Tracey had borrowed an item of clothing without asking rather than finding herself behind bars for the next few decades.
“Why should I deny it?” Tracey replied. “I did it. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
Paula looked distraught. Her eyes clouded with tears. “I can’t believe it,” she gasped.
Tracey laughed. “The only thing I can’t believe is that I actually got caught. It took them long enough.”
Paula sobbed. “Think of those families,” she urged. “All those people.”
“Twenty all in,” Tracey finished for her. “Roughly half of my anatomy class.”
Paula used her index finger to wipe underneath her eye. “Do you feel no remorse?”
Tracey’s gaze moved to the guard at the back watching them.
“You don’t understand, Paula,” she said finally sounding serious. “I am destined for greatness. I was failing the class. They were breezing through and they weren’t caring. I worked so hard. I really did. I spent days and nights at the library. The little coffee lady even refused to serve me more expresso. My eyes were popping out of my head. Did it make a difference? Not in the slightest. I had to correct it somehow.”
Paula wasn’t convinced. “All those people are dead.”
“Trust me, they were a sorry bunch. I did the world a favour.”
Paula had heard enough. She stood but before she left the table Tracey said, “ You don’t know the full story. Hear that and then you will understand.”
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