There’s the door, she tells me, and points. Why don’t you just walk out?
I don’t move. I can walk out the door, but then I’d have to stand in the hall and wait.
What about that gate? She’s pointing out the window now. The gate is lit up at night: razor wire coiled along the top, the tower with a sharpshooter in it. Or what about your cell doors? she asks. Or block gates? Or shower doors? Or the mess hall doors, or the doors to the visitor entrance? How often do you gentlemen touch a doorknob? That’s what I’m asking.
I knew the minute I saw Holly that she’d never taught in a prison before. It wasn’t her looks—she’s not a kid, and you can see she hasn’t had it easy. But people who teach in prisons have a hard layer around them that’s missing on Holly. I can hear how nervous she is, like she planned every word of that speech about the doors. But the crazy thing is, she’s right. The last time I got out, I’d stand in front of doors and wait for them to open up. You forget what it’s like to do it yourself.
She says, My job is to show you a door you can open. And she taps the top of her head. It leads wherever you want it to go, she says. That’s what I’m here to do, and if that doesn’t interest you then please spare us all, because this grant only funds ten students, and we only meet once a week, and I’m not going to waste everyone’s time on bullshit power struggles.
She comes right to my desk and looks down. I look back up. I want to say, I’ve heard some cheesy motivational speeches in my time, but that one’s a doozy. A door in our heads, come on. But while she was talking I felt something pop in my chest.