Life on the unit - FamilyEducation

Life on the unit

November 04,2009
Talia's Blog
Talia Rivera

Talia Rivera is a 33-year-old mother of two. As Executive Director of Villages without Walls, she works with high-risk gang members in Boston. [Read more]

My cellmate, Michelle, was one of my uncle’s hoes. He was a pimp. She would say, "I love your uncle. But he ain’t got no stroke." And I knew other women on the unit. Phyllis and I were in middle school together. Angela grew up with my mother, aunts, and uncles. Angela was a butch. And a crack head. We had fought before meeting again in prison. One winter morning, I had crack to sell. So I waited in the hallway for crack heads, dancing in a circle to stay warm. An addict came into the hall. Angela knew her. "I got some stuff," Angela said. I had been waiting in the hall for hours. I needed this sale. I stopped the addict. I told her, "The stuff Angela has is fake." The addict brought my crack instead. I walked out of the building with Angela cussing me. She followed me. She grabbed me by my coat and pushed me against a fence. "Why you messing with my money?!" She was angry. I didn’t respond. But I balled up my fist and punched her in the face. We fought until Big Bobby broke us apart. When Angela saw me in the unit she told everyone about the fight. She gave me credit for not backing down to her. But though I knew people like Angela, Diamond, and Phyllis, I kept to myself. I left my cell only to eat, shower, and watch television. I spent my time sitting on top of the butcher block with my notebook and pen. I looked out the window through the bars and counted the red cars that drove by. The sun’s reflection off the red cars reminded me of a candy apple. Inspired by red, I wrote.
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