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“Waiting” Lauren always loved being in the car by herself. For her it meant she was free from her annoying little siblings, and was in control. But today her journey would end in a place that was the complete opposite of freedom. Today she was visiting her mom in a women’s correctional facility. Lauren lived with her mothers’ parents, who she regarded as her actual parents since her biological ones were such a mess. But even so, Lauren and her mom were close in a really weird way, they were almost like sisters but with more authority attached to her mothers end. Her mother was young when she’d had Lauren, only nineteen and already halfway down the wrong path. She did almost any drug imaginable, shoplifted; you name the illegal activity, she was most likely involved in it. Sixteen years later, her ways had finally caught up with her and she ended up with a four-year sentence for possession and credit card fraud. The initial shock of her mother going to prison was long gone, as it had been over three years, but Lauren always felt a little uneasy going to visit her mother. Today was different though, as this was the first time Lauren was visiting her mother by herself. She’d had her eighteenth birthday just two weeks ago, and her mother had almost begged over a recorded phone call for her to come visit. So being the dutiful daughter, she took off a morning from work, gave up a Friday night with her friends, and woke up at the crack of dawn to make the 75 mile trip to see her. When she arrived at the compound, she was shocked to find a parking space pretty close to the main entrance; visiting days could be like a madhouse. So she parked her little green car, put her cell phone in the glove box and looked over her outfit one last time, to ensure it was “appropriate.” There were so many rules for even the outsiders when visiting the prison; no necklaces, only one ring, nothing too short, no dresses, nothing too revealing, the list went on forever. But finally when she deemed her choice of a collegiate hoodie and an old pair of jeans (with no belt!) acceptable, she grabbed her bag of change and headed to the massive red building. She recognized the guard manning the desk and gave her a nod before taking her shoes off and handing the guard her ID. “Well happy belated birthday Miss Lauren.” Officer Chavez acknowledged as he checked her ID. She smiled and thanked the old man before walking through the metal detector. After Chavez cleared her in the system, took her keys, counted her money, and checked her shoes, he stamped her hand with invisible ink. It was almost funny when she thought about it, as this was the same system they used at Chuck E. Cheese to ensure the right kids left with the right adults. And ironically, this worked in the same way, but it ensured only visitors, not inmates, came through the door to the waiting room. After a few more groups of visitors had arrived and been checked in, Chavez opened the heavy metal door to let them into a narrow hallway with the door to the visiting room. The visitors silently walked in a straight line to the end of the hall to show their marked hands to another guard before finally making their way into the huge visiting room.

The room was decorated, for lack of a better word, with drawings and paintings inmates had done over the years, and all of the chairs in the room were pink, Lauren guessed because it was more “feminine�. She took a seat at one of the smaller tables, as the bigger round tables were reserved for larger groups and patiently waited for her mom to come into the room. She sighed to herself, thinking that she was where no one else had ever been before: the waiting room of a women’s correctional facility on a January Saturday morning.

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