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Eleanor T Beaty's Blog

The Prisoner

published on July 23rd, 2012

This short story was published in the Miambiance Magazine – volume XV


The soft glow of the candlelight cast small shadows across the room. Mary looked into John’s vivid hazel eyes as he led her across the dance floor. His strong arm held her close, and the heat of his hand seemed to burn desire through the cotton of her dress. What bliss to love and be loved! The music stopped and the candlelight faded to darkness, as did the smile on Mary’s lips. Her eyes focused once again on the wall to her cell, the room where Harry Morgan kept her locked up. She wished she could slip out of her body and cross through those dirty brick walls into freedom. One day she would. One day death would be kind and take her away.

John…. Had he forgotten her? At two months Mary had given up scratching the days into the wall with her hairpin. And now she was giving up hope. Love was turning to regret and shame. She had blindly believed in his love, and in doing so, had placed her life in his hands. She had given up her family and comfort for this man who was leaving her to rot. With each day her body weakened and her thoughts carried only bitterness. Enslaved and humiliated, being fed scraps unfit for a dog, while he…while he was probably living a good life.

Oh, God, I regret that day. They had snuck onto the ship heading out to a far away land called Australia, with nothing but the clothes on their bodies and their love. And they had been caught just before the ship arrived at its final destination the port of Sidney. Twenty pounds the Captain, a ruthless man, had demanded. He couldn’t just let them go so they were given a choice other than the gallows: John would work at the mines and Mary at Morgan’s Tavern near the docks, until their debt was paid. But that was months ago. Mary doubted she still owed anything after all the hours of labor she had put in. Harry watched her every step, afraid she might run away, and in between duties, locked her in this tiny room with no windows.

Life is not worth living.

 Mary heard the key turning in the lock. Death, take me away, I don’t want to live anymore!

 The old hinges squeaked as the door opened. Mary squeezed her eyes shut and curled up into a ball, bracing her knees with her arms. The wooden floor resounded with heavy footsteps.

“Come on, get up you lazy whore!” Harry yelled.

Mary didn’t move.

“I don’t have all day, and if you take another moment of my time I will add another week to your stay!”

Mary opened her eyes and stood up. She crossed the room and stepped through the doorway without giving Harry’s disgusting, fat face another glance. Wearily, she scanned the crowded tavern and her heart almost stopped as she came upon the thin and gaunt looking man, making his way through the crowd, holding a small bag in his hand as if it were a trophy.

“John! It’s John!” Mary screamed. She twisted around to tell Harry that John was there to free her but the words never left her mouth. Her expression turned to utter horror and despair as she saw the tavern owner crossing the room, carrying her limp and lifeless body.



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