The fence seemed more like a hurdle for Dixon. He was on it and over it in the blink of an eye, long before the first dog reached the bottom and began jumping at the air with its white teeth. I might have imagined sparks coming out from it but Dixon seemed fine, standing there on the other side.
What did it feel like?
Relief. Inspiration. Excitement. Jealousy? Grief. I was in the wave again, this time not being tossed but riding it to shore my hand out in front of me, smiling. My friend had made it. What did that kind of freedom feel like? What was I going to do without him? Could I make it? I imagined he was riding a similar wave, although without the jealousy. He wasn't the kind to gloat but I knew he was feeling damn good. Who wouldn't be? I imagined fist pumps and maybe a middle finger back in our direction. Not at us, but at the system holding us.
I lusted after the feeling too.
Cheers filled the space around me, as did, I assumed, all the same emotions as I felt. If Dixon could make it, we could to, right? There was life again. Inspiration. How many more did we need to see get across to know we could? How many more had we heard of, read about over the years?
But as the days moved on, we convinced ourselves that Dixon was faster than us. He was stronger. He was more convicted. He was more courageous, powerful. He was. Better. Who was I to think I could be like Dixon? Not me. Not the addict.
No, not that addiction.
The other drugs. The bed. Sure it was like a brick. But, I had a blanket. The security. Sure the guards liked to take out their own frustration on my back at times, but they also protected me most of the time. The food. Sure it tasted like shit, but I could count on it being put on my plate. Every day. The warmth. The roof over my head when it was raining outside. The known. The known is a powerful force. It doesn’t have to be good - just consistent enough to be addicting.
And, there was the chance of a bigger bed. Some got it. Maybe even a cell with a television. On Sundays some of us got two helpings. Bonuses. Extras. I could achieve them. If I was caught trying to escape, and somehow managed to live, I’d never get that cell. Not that meal. Not the television I saw others with. I’d give up so much. But, what did I have anyway? Dixon was gone. Someone had to be next.
And, one night, on a night that was much like the one Dixon had told me he was leaving, I told my friend. I could see the wave pass over him. I knew exactly what he was feeling and, at that moment, I knew what Dixon had felt. I wasn’t able to contain the smile as well as he had. It crept out of every part of me because I knew I might make it and the taste of that was too much to hold in.
24 hours later I would find out.