It is per rule that prison inmates have to get up early. It's one of the perversities of prison, and most do it by force and grumbling. There was one women's prison, though, where every Thursday started with pleasant anticipation, and every inmate got up a little bit earlier than necessary. This was because the previous night an unknown donor threw a chocolate bar (or similar) each through their cells' outer windows.
The donor's name was Pete, and he was but a boy on the verges of manhood. He thought it was such fun to throw gifts through people's windows, but at some point, simple fun is not enough any more.
He knew he shouldn't do it, because deep down he wanted to think he made the women's lives better with his little presents, and he wouldn't like hearing it wasn't true. Nevertheless, curiosity always wins against reason, and so he strolled past the prison's compound one Thursday evening.
There were no fences to separate people passing by from the inmates. All it needed to keep them inside was the strong electromagnetic field that wouldn't let any living being pass through (only dead things like chocolate bars or stones). It was warm and some women were still outside, catching late sunbeams. One of them sat close to the invisible fence, her face pointing towards the sun, her eyes closed.
"There's not many people that take a walk around here," she said as Pete approached. He stopped, embarrassed and guilty. The woman opened her eyes and looked him up and down.
"A dare, is it? You're young enough for it. - No? What then?"
"Curiosity," he whispered. That was true enough, anyway.
"Ah, that kind of boy. You want to know how we look different from your mammy, right?"
Pete shrugged. He didn't know why, but he didn't want to lie. He didn't want to admit the truth either, though. To change the subject, he asked, "What's it like in prison?"
The woman laughed. "Every day's the same, that's all you want to know, believe me."
"Every day?" The question was out before he could stop himself, but the woman didn't seem to notice his embarrassment.
"Yes, lad. They try to bore you to death in here, we always say."
"So, what did you do to end up here? You don't seem..."
"Dangerous? Or crazy?" She laughed again. "I'm both, actually. There's something wrong with my head, like I can switch off common sense. I killed my supervisor in a state like that."
"Ah, now you're scared."
He sat down opposite her. "No. My mind... it's strange too, sometimes. When I'm tired or angry or sick. I can't stop thinking, but can I stop acting on it."
"You should learn to stop that, then, before you end up in a place like this as well."
"You must have been very angry to actually go and kill someone. Why?"
"Why? What's it to you why?"
"I'm curious." Pete winked.
"Those were difficult times... Bad job, bad life... Things get to you when there's no one to talk to, you understand? Make sure you got friends who listen, always."
"Why didn't you have any?"
"I'm not the type for friends."
"You must have had some!"
"Right. If you must know, I slept with the boy my best friend was in love with. She couldn't forgive me. End of story."
"Did you love him, too?"
The woman sighed. "No. We were drunk, it was nothing serious."
"Don't look at me like that! I don't even know why I'm telling you this." She thought about it. "Maybe it's because you remind me of him, a bit."
"What was his name?"
"That's none of your business."
"Right. I think I have to leave now, anyway. Goodbye." Pete got up.
He'd already gone a few steps before she called him back. He stopped, but didn't turn.
"His name was John. And I'm Erica, by the way."
He turned around, nodded and smiled. "Bye, then, Erica."
"You won't stop bringing chocolate, will you? Not because of me!"
Pete stood frozen, and wondered how she knew.
"After I had finished reading myself, I learned reading other people, you know. I watch. I listen. I know."
Again, Pete turned around. With a smile, he said, "You don't know everything yet."