Boomer scratched her name into the glass just like every other time she’d been sent to the slot. In fact, the window was covered with her name and several rough outlines of penises.
What are the screws gonna do? Throw me in the slot?
Linda Miles opened the cell door. “C’mon, Jenkins, it’s back to H2 for you.”
“About bloody time,” Boomer mumbled. “Been stuck in here for four lousy weeks. Was thinkin’ of getting me name put above the door.”
“Move it, or you’ll spend another week in here.”
Linda led the way along the familiar corridors until they arrived at the entrance for H Block. “I’m sure you know the rest of the way, Jenkins.”
Boomer entered the communal area of H2, noticing Ruby and Allie relaxing on the lounge suite, watching tv. “Hey bitches, l’m back! Reckon they should just give me a key to this fuckin’ joint, aye?”
“Booms!” Allie and Ruby shouted in unison, as they jumped up to give their buddy a welcome back hug.
“Is this what’s left of the old crew?”
“Yep,” Ruby replied. “Rita was released while you were in the slot, but we’ve since been lumbered with three newbies.”
“That means a full house, right? What about Liz’s stuff?”
Ruby looked to Allie for support as they had both been dreading this conversation for weeks. “Um... it’s all gone.”
“You’re shitting me, aye?”
“You’ve got to understand, the screws came in and ordered us to box up all her belongings,” said Ruby. “They wouldn’t let us keep any photos, or even that memory box.”
“We tried to get them to keep the cell untouched until you returned, but they said you’d be gone for a long time. We’s so sorry, Boomer,” Allie said sincerely.
Boomer’s eyes widened in anger and she barged into Liz’s cell to discover a complete stranger lying on the bed. In one swift movement, she grabbed the younger girl by the scruff of her teal-coloured t-shirt and glared her down with a menacing look in her eyes.
“What the hell are you doin’ on Liz’s bed? Get the fuck out of here!” She pushed the girl back down, noting with satisfaction when the newbie whimpered and cowered into the corner, petrified of being bashed by someone twice her size.
Ruby placed a gentle hand on Boomer’s arm. “Booms, it’s not the kid’s fault. She wasn’t even here when Liz died.”
“I suppose it’s my fault, now?” Boomer turned on her heel and made her way back to her own cell, hurling several personal effects across the room in frustration. “I’m never gonna get out of this stinkin’ shithole!”
Allie hesitantly entered the room, concerned at seeing Boomer pound the wall with the sides of her balled-up fists. “Boomer? Are you going to be okay?”
“What do you reckon?” Boomer continued to slam the wall, tears now flowing freely. “Everyone leaves me! First it was Maxine, then Sonia, then Franky... and now Liz. They all hate me! Why do they hate me?”
“Hey, you know that’s not true.” Allie rushed over and helped Boomer to the bed, opting to sit alongside her, unsure at first what to say. “And the screws didn’t get all of Liz’s things.”
Boomer wiped away the tears with her sleeve. “What do you mean?”
Allie extracted a white envelope from the pocket of her hoodie, and handed it to Boomer.
“It’s a letter from Liz. She gave it to me a couple of days before the siege and made me promise not to tell anyone. Said to give it to you after she had... gone.”
“I... I don’t understand. Why would she do somethin’ like that?”
“I don’t know, but maybe the answer is in that letter you’re holding.” Allie lifted herself off the bed. “I’m sorry about Liz, we all loved her.”
“Do you reckon l did the right thing? I mean... with Liz?”
“Are you kidding? It’s true what they say - not all heroes wear capes.”
“Yeah, but l wish l told her how much l loved her and that l’m sorry for all the nasty things l said to her.”
“I’m sure she knew. By the way, l’m not going anywhere for several years, so if you ever need to talk, you know where to find me, okay?”
Boomer smiled and offered her an appreciative nod, watching as Allie closed the door behind her to give her some privacy. She glanced down at the envelope, eyeing it with apprehension, before flinging it to the floor as an act of defiance.
Stupid dumb letter! What could Liz possibly say to make me feel better? I treated her like shit and it’s my fault she’s dead. If l hadn’t killed her, then she’d still be here safe with me!
Curiosity got the better of her and she retrieved the sealed envelope, ripping it open. The barely legible handwriting looked like it had been written by a child learning to write, but Boomer persevered, determined to read every last word.
Firstly, l’m sorry. If you are reading this letter, it’s because you have selflessly surrendered your freedom to allow me to die with dignity, and for that, my heart thanks you.
Today is a good day for me, so before l forget, l’ll put pen to paper and write my final words to you. It’s hard to express exactly how much you mean to me - and it’s not because my Swiss cheese brain refuses to cooperate with my clumsy fingers.
When my mind is working, l think back to the many happy memories we created together in Wentworth and how you made this place bearable for me. Remember that time when we bribed you with Monte Carlos to help you study for your exam? Or the many dance sessions we shared with Bea, Franky, Doreen and the rest of the girls? Then there was that time you kept stealing all my biscuits and l’d replace them only to have them disappear again. It had me truly stumped, but after Kaz explained you were the culprit, l couldn’t stop myself from laughing!
And all those bad memories? They were my own doing and therefore my own fault. I let you down and yet each time you forgave me and welcomed me back into your life. You could have turned your back on me, (and let’s be honest, l would have deserved it) but instead you made it your mission to be my real guardian angel and help me complete my bucket list. That type of friendship only comes along once in a lifetime and l feel blessed to have known you.
The one special memory l hold so dear, is when you told me you regarded me as your mother. How lucky am l? For l now have three beautiful children in my life and l’m immensely proud of all of them!
There is nothing l can say to help ease the hurt and anger you must be feeling right now - coping with my death and being punished for granting this dying woman her final wish. What you did was incredibly brave, and done purely out of love for me. I know you were there holding my hand right until the very end, comforting me with loving words as you watched me slip away, and even though l have now left this life, know that l love you and l’ll always be watching over you.
Your loving mum,
PS: Franky gave me her lucky charm telling me it gave her strength and courage, and now l’m giving it to you.
Boomer peered inside the envelope and lifted the necklace out, holding it gently between her thumb and two fingers, as she closely examined the silver kite pendant with its red tail.
A piece of Franky and a piece of Liz, both who are now free. Maybe there is hope for me, after all.
She then placed the necklace along with the letter safely back into its envelope, and tucked it carefully under her pillow to keep it close to her.
“Goodnight, mum, wherever you are. l promise l’ll keep makin’ you proud of me,” Boomer whispered, as she laid her head down on the pillow and fell asleep.