"Milk and Tea," by Linda Michelle Marquardt, in Prison Noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Akashic Press, 2014.
We are back for a second helping of Prison Noir. Last week was about a clever concept, skillfully executed. This week is all about heightened language. One advantage of using an e-reader is you can mark interesting passages, and in this story I highlighted too many to review here.
The story begins with a description of a suicide in the prison. Then: Damn! I was jealous.
That's our first indication that the story is in first person. The protagonist is a woman who killed her abusive partner. (And I should say that the abuse is described pretty graphically; this is the most violent tale I have read so far in this book.)
Love of her children keeps her from reaching for death, although I crave it like iced tea on a summer day. See what I mean about heightened language?
Here she deals with the ever-recurring question: why does a woman stay with a bad man?
Apparently, if you're an educated person, this can be held against you, as if there is some Abuse 101 course in college that prepares you to recognize the waring signs. There isn't.
This is a powerful piece of writing.
Ms. Marquardt, like her protagonist, is incarcerated at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Michigan.