Prison yard


And now for the shot that makes no sense…

I had a dream last night. In my dream, I had a secret that I both wanted everyone to know and was scared to tell anyone. In addition to having a secret, I also had a brother. This brother was in prison, because he was a liar. A compulsive liar. A liar who couldn’t quit lying, even when there was nothing to lie about. Lying and gambling didn’t mix, and after a poker game went sour, he wound up in the slammer.

I went to visit my brother, with my secret. I wanted to tell it to him, because I knew if he told anyone else, which was unlikely as he couldn’t speak the truth, no one would ever believe him, because he was a liar. I’d practice my secret on my brother. I loved my brother, and it saddened me to see him standing against the fence of the prison yard in his gray prison uniform, with his black, laceless shoes, not looking at me because liars can’t look you in the eye, his hands in his pockets, his eyes and his secrets, like mine, inside him but unspoken. I wanted to give my brother something to show him how much I loved him, but he was in prison, and I had nothing to give, and even if I had, they’d have taken it from him anyway. I was unable to give him my secret. But I looked down at the gravel of the prison yard, and I saw a nickel there glinting in the gray light. I picked up the nickel, wondering why it was in the prison yard, and I looked at it in the palm of my hand. And then I handed it to my brother, and when he reached out to take it, I saw that he had known my secret all along, and loved me anyway. His eyes met mine for only a moment, and he dropped the nickel into his pocket and shuffled away in his shoes.

The nickel took on the weight and worth of much more than five cents.


And so today, I made this picture, because the dream, and the way my dream-brother looked with his slouched shoulders and his shame, wouldn’t leave me. It came with me on my commute and sat in the back of my head all day at work, and followed me to lunch, back in to work, to shoulder therapy, and now home. The nickel, the gravel, the black, laceless shoes…and the silent brother, who carried my dream secret.

And that is why I have a picture of a nickel in the gravel, in front of some shoes.

Just a silly dream.

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