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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Helen knocked on the door of the tiny cell.
"Hiya Nikki, can I come in?"
Nikki smiled, beaming involuntarily at the sight of the beautiful wing governor.
Noticing the work Nikki had laid out on the desk in front of her Helen paused.
"Oh sorry, I don't want to interrupt, should I come back later?"
"No, no don't be silly. I need a break my mind was beginning to wander. Take a seat," she gestured to the bed feeling a little absurd behaving as if they were in a normal situation. Helen sat on the bed and Nikki swung around to straddle the chair, her long forearms resting along the back of it.
"So what can I do you for?" Nikki smiled a little cheekily at Helen.
'I just wanted to see you' thought Helen.
"I just wanted to see how all your work was going?" she decided to say.
"Oh fine, I get plenty of time in here to focus on it."
"I'm so proud of you Nikki," Helen said without meaning to "I mean, I'm really pleased that you seem to be getting so much out of it, you really seem to be enjoying it."
"Yeah, I do. Thanks for being so persuasive. I never would have done anything like this if it wasn't for you." Nikki blushed a little. Helen smiled back at her.
"If there is anything you ever want to discuss with someone, I used to love literature so I'd love to talk to you about the books and essay questions."
"That'd be great."
They sat looking at each other for a long moment. Neither one knew that they both felt the tingle in their belly and the deepening of their breath before they looked away. Nikki was first to break the charged silence,
"So how are your plans coming?"
"Plans?" Helen was lost.
"For the wedding "
"Oh, oh, yeah fine." Helen tried to convince herself. "Actually I don't really know. Sean's taking care of everything." She briefly looked at Nikki, guilt playing across her features before she stood and moved to the barred window. A long moment passed, Nikki watched Helen and stood slowly.
Playing with the ill fitting ring on her left hand Helen quietly said "I feel so trapped Nikki." She let out the breath she had been holding. The lump in her throat threatened to choke her as she said, almost inaudibly, "The only time I feel free is here, with you."
Helen didn't have to turn around to know that Nikki was standing just behind her. She closed her eyes and imagined what it would be like to lean back against her, to feel Nikki's strong arms wrap around her.
Tentatively Nikki reached out to place a hand on the small shoulder in front of her. "Helen " Helen turned to face her. Nikki's heart stopped at the sight of tears in Helen's eyes. Her right hand slowly stroking Helen's shoulder Nikki lifted her left hand to gently touch the side of Helen's face.
At the touch Helen closed her eyes releasing a tear to trail down her cheek. Nikki smoothed it with her thumb.
"Ssh, Helen? I wish " but she couldn't go on.
"You wish what?" Helen looked directly at her, into her.
"I wish things were different." Feeling the intimacy of the moment deepen Nikki began to feel as though she was falling. 'I wish I could kiss you, I wish I could take you away from all this crap and make you happy!' is what she wanted to say but at that moment an inmate was heard swearing at someone out side the door and reality forced its way in between them. "I wish things were different for you, in here, easier." She stepped back releasing her gentle hold on Helen and sat on the bed lighting a cigarette.
Helen felt the absence of Nikki's touch immediately. Silently she watched as Nikki began to smoke. She wanted to let go, to fall into Nikki' arms and forget the outside world but looking around the cell, at the open door and hearing the voices of the women outside on the landing Helen felt her freedom fade. She watched Nikki blow out a long breath of smoke and as she did so Helen felt her mind shift back into the professional she needed to be to walk back through that door, she took a deep breath and stood slightly straighter. Nikki looked up, sensing the change in mood and saw the Wing Governor standing in front of her once again.
"I better go." Helen said playing with her keys.
"Sure," was all Nikki could say.
"I'll see you later." Helen attempted to smile then walked to the door before Nikki stopped her.
"Helen I'm always here," she said, understanding clear in her voice.
Helen just smiled, took a deep breath and walked out the door.
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