My probation officer looks at me then looks down at the table and sighs. I sit with a smile on my face waiting for him to announce that he is taking me back to jail. “Tonia, you know the drill.” “I sure do! Let’s go!” I get up and start walking before he even gets up from the table. I don’t bother saying goodbye to mom since she dramatically stormed up the stairs shedding what I call fake tears.
He doesn’t even bother cuffing me this time since my eagerness stands at the state car waiting to be let in. He jumps in and turns to me, “Tonia, why? Why would you rather be in jail than at home?” I look at him and slightly smile, “Do you even know what I go through here? I’m 16 and she controls everything I do. Every decision, every choice, every thought, every feeling. You are not taking me to jail. You are letting me out.”
Arriving, I feel the excitement. We get into booking and I peek to see whose curious faces I may recognize peering back at me through the small opening in the heavy steel doors. My probation officer leaves me with a “goodbye” and a “take care.” Relieved, I look at the intake officer and ask how she’s doing since the last time I saw her. She just smiles. I grab my bedding and personal hygiene products and head to my cell. I feel home. You see, jail provides me with stability. A sort of structure that home doesn’t. Home is so unpredictable. At least I know what to expect here. Breakfast at 8 am then some recreational time, then back in for socializing and lunch. Dinner at 4 pm. If you’re lucky, you may have some leftover snacks. Everyday.
I wake to the sound of a short, chubby woman yelling. “Tonia! Pack up. You’re moving.” She has me swap out my jump suit and plastic sandals for my street clothes. Leading me through the steel doors I see my ex-boyfriend’s mother. What is she doing here? God, I hope she doesn’t talk to me. This woman despised me because I was the bad girl dating her perfect son. By the way, your perfection introduced me to acid, dumbass. The door opens and she stands with a proud smile. “Hey, Tonia. How are you? I’m here to escort you to Mountain View Girls School in Helena. Load up.” Thank you State of Montana for hiring this nutcase. The nearly 2 hour drive there is spent in silence.
We approach the gates of MVS. My eyes are introduced to cute little brick cottages. This isn’t going to be so bad!
I unload the car and head into the office. Nutcase pats me on the back and happily exclaims, “Forty-five days, Tonia. Enjoy!” Dozens of girls glare at me from a large room to my left. I read “bitch” roll off the lips of one of them. Cute cottages, gone. Fear, enters. To be continued…