Suza wrote: (transcribed by Arrolyn Vernon)
“My Roommate’s a Cat” 03-18-13
For a while, I don’t know what it means: the moans, the grunts, the groans, the audible sighs. Suddenly, my roommate will utter a plaintive “Oh shit.” Then, she’ll roll over and whine like a little child, either humming with contentment or whispering in pain.
In my silence and cautious quiet- my pen moving across the page, careful not to rustle the paper- I wonder at her apparent indifference or perhaps her ignorance. Does she not know that her sounds and the silent flashing of her television screen impact the fragile peace of this four-woman cell?
Sometimes with her TV earbuds in place, she bursts into giggles and outright laughter at a commercial or a situational comedy- a reality home video. I swallow my irritation because: a) I don’t know and can’t hear or see what she’s laughing about, and b) these sounds fracture my focus, and I must stop, retrench, and recompose myself to continue writing or reading.
Often, I plug my own radio earbuds and listen to classical music, convenient symphonies that serve to mask the endless laughing and shouting in the Day Room outside the cell door as well as to mute my roommate’s strange vocal eruptions inside- and, then, I pray to keep my resentment from growing into full blooming anger- ahhh, the little things that chip away one’s sanity in prison!
Finally, I realize that all these sounds are for me, the chronicles, the note-taker, the writer of emotion and human saga. Whether consciously or unconsciously, whether for a bid for pity, compassion, or a poke to stoke my ire, my roommate offers those sounds as gifts. They are gestures of homage, revelations and testimonies about her personal pain- which I happen to know is plentiful.
These sounds are little dead birds and broken mice that she brings to lay at my feet. “See?” she says, her coat matted and crusted with blood. “See? This is me.”