I haven’t been touched in two years. This place has been a big hilly disappointment. The men of San Francisco are dead upon arrival but it’s time for me to leave.
My final days will be spent gardening atop the buried layers of the testosterone encrusted earth of Alcatraz. I’m trapped, willingly, on a giant rock, pulling weeds, deadheading and getting rid of unsightly brown leaves, dumping all of this into a hot compost heap so we can repeat the cycle. The goal is to make the flowers look their best for every tourist’s 30 second gaze. This isn’t very hard and I know what the rangers mean when they say that the prisoners who worked on these very flower beds felt as if they could briefly escape their realities. They were able to care for something that had no affinity to themselves or to their current situations. The island lighthouse has blinked every 5 seconds onto my bedroom wall, into my mind and now I think, this won’t be mine anymore; a beam on the back of a naked beauties ass on a Saturday night; one that was smarter, who moved here with a man.
It took over half an hour in the grocery store to decide if I should get the pricier Pepperidge Farms cookies or maybe just Chips Ahoy to share with the 50 somethings’ crew on the ferry ride over. I’ve felt like one solitary tunnel person under the whole of Las Vegas for so long. Honestly, I was going to get judged by what I brought for them to eat, so I went with Fig Newtons. No one wanted them and I was “Laura,” not “Lauren.”
The first wave of guests arrive a half hour after us. They wander around the paved spiral roads, hunched over with an obscure, zombie-like posture. They are taking photographs with their iPads to show their friends online.
I carry a flower guide in my back pocket in case people ask for species.
If no one talks, I fall asleep. I woke up in the Officers’ Row garden. There were a pair of pruning shears by my side with a California State Park hat. This was my ticket to getting on and off the island and that evening, I didn’t get off. The obvious pun made me sad so I continued to water Geraniums until I realized no one else was around and the sun was going down. I was the last man standing.
Watching the final boat leave the dock, I listened to the distant traffic; reaching my hands into the soil, trying to feel anything other than dirty.