Knock, knock, knock!
Harper quickly put down the book she’d been reading, and jumped up to open her cell door.
Her face fell slightly in disappointment as her visitor entered. Elly had been one of the last people she expected to find on the other side.
“Oh… Hey, Elly.” Harper could not hide her surprise and disappointment. She’d been expecting Ivy, of course. The two of them had been practically inseparable lately. “What’s up?”
Ivy’s roommate bit her lip nervously. “It’s Ivy.” Elly replied softly. “She… She needs you.”
Harper’s face fell instantly. She had a terrible feeling she knew what Elly meant. “Oh shit. Is she…?”
The other woman shrugged. “I think so… But you know Ivy. She never wants to talk to me about that shit.”
Harper almost laughed. Join the club, she wanted to say. Ivy didn’t like talking to anyone about… well, anything involving her past. And Harper understood why. It was just too unpleasant. Too shameful.
But there were still times when Ivy had no choice. There was a deep sadness inside her that came out from time to time — When the demons from her past caught up with her. And she couldn’t get through it alone.
“Thanks, I’ll go talk to her.”
Elly nodded. “No problem. I think I’ll go for a walk or call Sam or something… Give you two a little time alone.” She offered, heading for the door.
Harper smiled gratefully, and thanked her again before following her out into the hall, making her way toward Ivy and Elly’s room. She knew this was something that couldn’t wait — Ivy needed her.
She knocked gently on the door, but did not wait for a response before opening it.
Harper found Ivy laying back across her bed with her face in her hands. Her right leg bounced nervously up and down, causing the entire bed to vibrate slightly.
Had she even heard her come in? Harper couldn’t be sure. But one look was all it took to confirm that her suspicions had been correct. Her heart sank at the thought.
With a deep breath, Harper lowered herself onto the bed and tentatively reached toward the other woman. “Hey. It’s me.” She whispered soothingly, running her fingers gently through Ivy’s hair. “Are you okay?”
Ivy’s reply was too muffled by her hands to reach Harper’s ears, but the shake of her head was enough to answer her question.
“Is it… a craving?” Harper asked nervously.
This time, Ivy nodded, finally pulling her hands away from her face. “I can’t remember the last time I had one this bad.” Her voice was pained. “God, I hate this. But this is what I get, huh? I deserve this…”
“Shhh. Don’t say that. It’s not true, okay?” Harper wasn’t sure what else to say.
She hated hearing Ivy talk about herself like that… Thankfully it was not a very common occurrence, but these damn cravings just seemed to make it even worse.
They seemed to come on every few weeks, but it had been months since she’d seen Ivy this bad. It hurt so much to see her this way. Ivy had been clean long enough that her body no longer had any physical cravings for heroin… But the mind could be a powerful and dangerous thing.
For a moment, Harper caught herself thinking of Erik. After his overdose, his cravings were always this bad — or worse. It didn’t take long before he finally gave in to them. And she’d done nothing to try and stop him. In fact, at first, she’d almost encouraged it. The thought made her feel so disgusted. Harper did her best to chase it away.
“What can I do?” Harper asked at last, breaking the silence. “How can I help?”
Ivy’s lips finally curled into a slight smile. “Just having you here is already helping.” She replied. “And I guess talking kinda helps take my mind off of things…” Ivy’s eyes lit up slightly. “Would you mind maybe telling me one of your stories? It’s been a long time since you’ve talked about your writing.”
Yeah, Harper wanted to say, because I haven’t written anything but stupid journal entries in months.
But instead, she just smiled. “Sure… I don’t think I’ve told you about this one before. It’s kind of a mystery story… Probably one of my favorites.”
Still smiling, Ivy snuggled up into Harper’s lap, and listened.
“And even after all that, she never found out who sent the envelope.” Harper finished at last. “But it was a question that haunted her for the rest of her life.”
“Woah.” Ivy breathed, sitting up slowly as she spoke. She already looked so much calmer and more relaxed than she had before. Apparently Harper’s story had done its job. “That was incredible… So intense!”
Harper felt her cheeks grow slightly warm. “Thanks.” She murmured. “I was always pretty proud of that one… but I never managed to develop it into anything long enough to actually publish.” Not that anything I DID publish ever got me anywhere. She added mentally.
The other woman appeared thoughtful for a moment. “Did you ever have like, an editor or something who you could talk to? Somebody who could help you flesh stuff out or something?”
Harper shook her head. “I never really showed anybody anything I wrote… Well, except my friends sometimes.” And Erik, but she decided not to mention him.
Ivy eyed her almost skeptically. “Well, what about like, a writing class or something?” She asked. “Have you ever tried anything like that?”
“Not really… I was never really into school. You know that.” She reminded her.
Ivy chuckled softly to herself. “Harper, you have some great ideas. I think you’re a really talented writer… But if that’s what you actually wanna do someday, I think you’ve gotta start…” She seemed to hesitate for a moment.
It was another moment or two before Ivy finally replied. “Like… Taking it more seriously, I guess?” She sounded almost guilty.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Harper asked, her tone a bit harsher than she’d intended.
“I just think it might be a good idea to try kinda branching out or something. Like, finding somebody who can edit your stuff. Or even just trying to learn a little more about writing…” Her beautiful blue eyes suddenly lit up once more. “Hey, what about that class Melissa keeps hounding you about? That might be a good place to start.”
Harper’s eyes widened. Was Ivy actually serious? Did she have any idea who she was talking to? “Ha! You’re kidding, right?”
“Why would I be kidding? I think it’d be great for you!” Ivy smiled warmly. “And I’ve been thinking of finally signing up for an art class next semester… Maybe we could take the plunge together.”
Harper did not immediately reply. She took a few moments to consider Ivy’s words. Very few of the inmates ever took advantage of the prison’s partnership with one of the local universities. And she could definitely understand why. Ivy was making it sound so simple… But school was something that had never come easy to Harper. Not by a long shot.
“I dunno…” She said slowly. “I’ve never really been into the idea of going to uni… My parents always wanted me to, but it never really felt like something I wanted.”
Ivy shook her head. “Not me. I always wanted it… I used to dream of getting an art degree and opening my own gallery someday…” She paused for a moment, her face falling. “But uni was never even an option for me. It was way too expensive. Plus, I had to spend all my time worrying about taking care of Finn. And then I got all wrapped up in those stupid drugs, and I…” Her lip quivered slightly for a moment.
Harper reached out a hand, brushing her fingers gently against Ivy’s cheek. “Hey you don’t have to talk about that, okay?” She said gently.
“Thanks, Harper.” Ivy’s once-quivering lips now slowly curled into a smile. “Look, the point is, being locked up in here is pretty damn sucky, right? And honestly, my life before I got in here was probably even worse. But meeting you was my silver lining. And I think getting a chance to finally take a uni class could be another one. For both of us.”
The words made Harper’s cheeks grow warm. Ivy was definitely one of her silver linings too. It was surprising just how many she’d managed to find during the past year she’d spent in prison.
And she was sure Ivy was right — an art class would be a whole new silver lining for her. Something she could be proud of, and look forward to. She was already such a brilliant artist, but Harper could tell just how much she wanted to get even better. And Harper had already seen firsthand just how much art school had changed Devin’s artwork for the better.
Plus, she was sure that taking a class would be a great way to help distract Ivy from future cravings too. It would be really wonderful for her.
But what about ME… Could it really be good for ME too?
“It sounds to me like you should really take that class.” She replied at last. “But… you really think I should take one too?”
Ivy nodded. “Why not? We’re both artists who could probably use a little work to hone our crafts.” She smiled almost playfully for a moment. “And in-between peeling potatoes, organizing library books, and spilling our souls to Dr. S, is there really that much else to do around here?” She teased.
Harper sighed softly. How could she possibly say no to that face? “Alright, you got me… Let’s go for the silver lining” She smiled softly as she spoke.
“Really? You’ll do it?”
Harper nodded. “But, uh, for the record, you asked what else we have to do around here?” Her smiled widened. “I’m sure I could think of a thing or two that could keep us busy…”
Ivy returned her smile, sending a flurry of butterflies through Harper’s stomach. “Oh, don’t worry… No matter what happens, I’ll always make time for that.” She promised with a wink.
Harper reached forward then, taking Ivy into her arms. “Good.”