I frown briefly in the direction of the sound that has disrupted my conversation with Manuel. The one part of my night I look forward to, and someone has to go and demand a look-in from me.
"Just take care of yourself, alright? You're one of the good ones in here and I'd like to see you walk free some day."
I walk away from him before he has a chance to reply. I knew it was one of those statements you couldn't really turn around and just say 'Thanks' to.
What made it even more awkward was that I meant it, and Manuel knows that. In the three years I've been working in this prison, he has been one of the few people I look forward to seeing everyday.
And it kinda kills me to see him wasting away behind those steel bars.
I reach the source of the noise, and quickly realise I'm at Ana's cell. I peer in through the bars to find her sittng on the floor, facing me, with one hand pressed to wall as though it were stuck there with glue.
"Everything all right in there Ana?" I whisper in an attempt to not wake anyone else up.
I always make sure I speak to Ana civilly, because all of the other inmates think its funny to call her the Maniac, or Pyrochick, as a reminder of her illness. Yes, I find pyromania to be a mental illness, all addictions are.
And I think it's nice for a person to experience some form of normality every once in a while.
She looks in my direction, but it feels like she's staring right through me. She nods briefly, and if l hadn't been trying so hard to make eye contact with her, l might have missed it.
There was something off about her tonight; even Ana can reply verbally to a question, but a second glance tells me that she doesn't want to talk about it.
I figure she's fighting another 'episode' in which she throws herself at her cell door in a vain attempt at getting out and setting the entire place ablaze. I remember one night I walked past her cell to hear her muttering about how the laundry room would be the best place to start it, and I can recall the look she had on her face even though she was sleeping. She really had looked dangerous.
I shrug at her now, wordlessly, and continue on my rounds, still slightly bitter at the fact that a slightly crazed pyromaniac stopped me from chatting to Manny for a little longer.
As I start down the stairs toward the lower cells, I heard her giggling to herself again. I look over to see her smirking at nothing.
I shake my head and smile to myself. Some of the people in this place really are entertaining sometimes.