The Day I Went to Jail

My friend and I pounded on the wooden walls of our cell, insisting that we had been wrongfully imprisoned, begging to be released. We had long ago realized that the dim lighting in the cell prevented us from seeing anything clearly. The wooden slats of the cross bars allowed minimal sunlight to filter into the cell, cutting lines across our childish bodies. Dust motes and bits of hay danced in the mild sunbeams – our only companions in our otherwise empty cell. We were only eight, maybe nine years old. What had we done to deserve imprisonment? We had been too curious, and now, we were locked up.

About five minutes earlier, my friend and I had decided to play in the corn crib at the far end of my grandfather’s barn. The barn was my favorite place to play. Filled with horses’ stalls, a hayloft, ladders, and farming equipment, this place was a horse-loving girl’s dream. One day, a few years from now, I would receive my very own golden horse for a birthday present. But that is another story, and at this time, I only dared to dream about that story. In the meantime, my friend and I pretended to gallop our horses through the fields around the barn, brushing them down and watering our make-believe steeds in the wide hallway of the barn before turning them into their stalls with plenty of hay and sweet feed and water as their reward.

The corn crib was at the back of the barn. Three stalls were on the left of the wide hallway, a storage room was in the front right, the hayloft was above, and the corn crib was in the rear on the right-hand side, just past the storage room. Once, it had held a winter’s worth of corn cobs, corn stalks, seed corn – food for the barn’s residents, the residents of the house, and containing the promise of another year of crops. Now, it stood empty. The corn crib was the perfect jail cell for two little girls playing cowboys and robbers.

We unlatched the door, hopped up onto the wooden floor of the corn crib, which was elevated about two feet off of the ground, and pulled the door shut behind us. After some initial excitement and giggles, we fumbled around for the latch to open the door. We only felt the smooth wood of a well-used door. We were stuck. Being a prisoner had been fun in theory, now that we were trapped in practice, we began to yell, bang, and beg for release.

Time passed. My grandfather was in the garden, too far away to hear our racket; my grandmother was in the house fixing supper. Our voices faded, our banging slowed. We began to devise ways of escape. Perhaps if we wriggled our fingers through just so? Maybe we could find a stick or something lying in the corn crib that we could use to move the outer latch? Our plans failed. We slid down the wooden-slatted walls, landing with a thump on our rears on the hard, plank floor. We began to sing; we counted as high as we could; we wondered how my grandparents could have remained oblivious to our absence for so long. We must have been gone for hours.

After an eternity, which may have been minutes or hours, for to a child’s mind, boredom and confinement are infinite, my grandfather came whistling down the main hallway of the barn. We scrambled to our feet and yelled. His wide smile was the first thing we saw as we tumbled out of the unlocked corn crib door. “Got stuck in there, did ya?” he chuckled. We all went in for dinner.

© Copyright 2019 by HC Morris

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