“Open Your Eyes!”
Thursday, 12 October 2017
About twenty of us laid in the grass in front of guard tower 13. Some were cuffed others had their arms thrown out above their heads. It was difficult to say who was maced or bruised as we were forced to lay on our stomachs & plant our faces in the earth. Some of the guards coughed from the mace that lingered & yelled at us to “stay the fuck down.” The struggle to maintain obedience was a challenge for some as they couldn’t stop themselves from grasping for air & trying to relieve their burning skin.
To my left I saw a friend, or rather an aquaintence as it’s bitterly known in prison. Everyone called him ‘Lil one.” He was in terrible condition; mace all over. His orange clothes were oranger & completely soaked. It was difficult to tell the difference from his skin. Mace covered his entire face. His body shivered while snot & tears dripped to the ground. A guard held Lil one’s crossed legs to his back side. He wasn’t in any condition to put up a fight & he sure as hell wasn’t resisting, but the guard forced his weight, pressing hard on Lil one. I wanted to say something like “back off you excessive piece of shit,” but it was over; no good would come of it.
Lil one’s eyes were clenched shut as he moaned. “Open your eyes, Lil one.” I said.
“Facedown!” The guard shouted at me.
“Lil one,” I said again ignoring the guard, “Open your eyes. I’m serious.”
“Mind your business.” The Guard said.
I could tell the guard wasn’t about to do anything about me talking to Lil one besides yell at me & even so I didn’t care. Ignoring his advice I continued to speak. “Right now, Lil one, your senses are in a chaotic state; you’re overwhelmed. You need to regain control & the best way to do that is to ‘open your eyes.’ Sense with all five senses.
The guard shifted his weight of Lil one but still held his legs up firmly. He was looking at me now. I thought he was about to hem me up, but he just listened & stared.
I couldn’t tell if Lil one understood, so I went on. “I know it burns & sure as hell it’ll burn more trying to open them but youre blocking out your sight & focusing on the burning happening all over your skin & in your lungs & trying to control it. Open your eyes & it’ll shift your focus.” I paused then added: “I promise you, it’ll be better.”
This time he understood. His left eye opened then shut. Tears flowed. Seconds later both eyes shot open as wide as possible for a couple seconds as he let out an uncontrollable moan. He started at me then his eyes shut, squeezing out tears. These tears held the truth of how much pain he was experiencing.
“You’re doing good.” I said. “It’s going to suck but you have to keep forcing yourself.”
His eyes opened again. This time I could barely see his blood shot eyes through his squinty gaze. He blinked his watery eyes for about 15 seconds then shut them again. “
I know it feels good to shut them after each time but you need to keep doing it ‘til you can keep them open.”
He opened his eyes againl more easily this time. He looked around until his eyes found mine again. He didn’t say anything but I saw the relief there. The air was beginning to freshen up. A couple deep breaths & his shivering became less uncontrollable.
Suddenly the guard stood up & walked away. Lil one remained on the ground but looked around & saw the rest of the chaos.
“Come on. Get up. Let’s go.” A guard standing behind me said.
I stood up. “Lil one,” I said, “take care of yourself, dude.” I know that this was probably the last time I’d see him. I put my hands on my head & started to walk away as the summer breeze cooled my own maced face.