She spoke softly, gently, as if trying to pacify a rabid dog.
"This year I'm going away for 7 weeks", she then announced.
I felt as though I had been hit side-on by a ten ton concrete slab. The blow took my breath away. I struggled to recover, closing my eyes for a brief moment as I sat there dazed from the pain that suddenly flooded into every part of my body. When I opened my eyes again, the world appeared hollow and dimmed, as if light was filtered through a yellow fog.
I felt panic start to creep in. My heart ached. I fought back tears. Anger, or maybe it was fear, slowly stirred from the depths of where such things are born. The turmoil of emotions was ripping me apart. My mind was screaming at me to shut down, the high pitch screeching of the warning alarm was just about to burst my ear drums.
As I battled my raging demons, she continued speaking to me soothingly. I wanted to jump out of my seat and scream at her. I wanted to slump further into my seat and cry a torrent of tears. But I did neither. Instead I tried to grow my face into a stony mask, and I tried to hide behind the veneer of stoicism. But I don't think I was terribly successful in doing that. She saw through me like a person could see through a piece of film against a bright light.
7 weeks is nothing, for someone who will get to spend all that time with loved ones. But 7 weeks is an eternity for someone sentenced to solitary confinement.