This is the seventh story in Pain of the Prison System, a series proudly presented by Narratively, written by high school students for POPS the Club – a nonprofit dedicated to providing a safe space for high schoolers whose lives have been impacted by incarceration.

My father was sent to prison for domestic violence when I was four years old. I missed him a lot and asked my mom where he was every single day.

pops logo

“When is Daddy coming?”

My uncle Liborio called my mom two months after my dad was sent away to inform her that he had arranged a visit for me to see my dad. When my mom told me, “Leslie you’re going to see your dad on Sunday. Your uncle is going to come and pick you up,” I was happy to hear that. I spent the rest of the week making plans about what to tell the police so I could come back home with my dad.

I told my mom that I was going to have fun, that I was going to hug, kiss and sit on my dad’s lap. She didn’t say anything, just gave me a simple smile. The week went by fast, and it wasn’t long before my uncle came to pick me up. It was a long drive, but when we arrived I jumped out of the car eager to see my father, eager to hug and kiss him.

We stood in line for a while and I told my uncle about my plans. He didn’t say anything. Once we got to the front of the line and passed into the visiting room I just saw a lot of people on the phone. A policeman came and took us to an empty chair. I sat down looking all over the room for my dad. Finally he came out; he was on the other side of the window. My uncle gave me the phone and told me to start talking. We had a small chat, but I started crying because it wasn’t what I had imagined. I put my hand on the window, and so did my dad, to make it feel like we were holding hands.

That was my first visit in prison.

* * *

Leslie Mateos is a 2015 Venice High graduate. 

Alison Rutsch is an artist and educator living in New York.