“What hath night to do with sleep?”―John Milton
Night was for clubs. It was for drinks and dinners and dancing in the City. Or sitting on the beach, watching the surf, making out in cars. It was for watching horror movies in the lounge and take away, home-cooked meals and bottles of wine. Night was for making love. Night was not for sleep as far as Franky Doyle was concerned.
Franky hadn’t slept well since Wentworth. She was haunted by choices she made freely. As free as a choice can be when her hand was forced by the hard knocks of prison. Soft was not an adjective that would have described Franky before prison, but after the likes of Jacs Holt, Bea Smith, Juice, Cindy Lou, and Tina Mercado got through with her, Franky was pretty well hardened.
It had been the worst time in her life. Going to prison was terrible, but being Top Dog was worse, and worse than being on top was the tumble down. Franky had used her considerable braun, but Bea had outwitted her and she lost the title fight.
She was out and the alienation she felt throughout the prison was something she’d never expected. The women she called family that she had kept at arm's length during her reign weren’t jumping to rejoin her crew. She’d let her best mate down and cost herself the best protection choccy could buy, her love life was a hot mess, she was in debt to half the prison, and Ferguson had cut her supply off. In a word, she was fucked.
And then came Bridget--pushy, touchy-feely, and mind-fuckingly beautiful, she challenged every part of Franky.
In the beginning, Franky tolerated her because she was nice to look at. She had proven less than useful in getting her slotted and safe for another day when Cindy Lou came calling but something saw Franky’s tolerance turn to dependance.
Bridget was a breath of fresh air in a prison where even the yard was stifling. She kept Franky focused, even if she was only trained on her some days; she kept her moving forward, chasing her goal, getting the fuck out of there.
Along the way she’d fallen for her, flirting had turned from an effort to make the psychologist uncomfortable to something that might make her cross her legs, or look coyly in Franky’s direction. Anything to feel closer to her.
Franky rolled onto her side and pulled the sheet up. A glance at the clock confirmed it was past three a.m. The moonlight shone onto the bedroom wall and Franky kicked her leg out from underneath the blanket. Her second wind was fading, her eyelids were getting heavier, but sleep would not come.
When Franky first got out she thought she couldn’t sleep because the beds were too soft, the streets outside were too noisy, inside was too quiet, or the warm body beside her was too… what? Perfect . Franky looked over her shoulder. Bridget lay curled on her side, sleeping peacefully in the middle of the bed.
Love had cracked Franky like an egg and spilled her guts all over H block. She actually yearned for Bridget and when she wasn’t around. Franky never let anyone get too close, and certainly not a head shrinker. She had shut down years ago and yet somehow Bridget managed to worm her way in. The psychologist had taken an interest in her and that meant something to Franky. She put herself on the line and to a prisoner like Franky there was no greater compliment than loyalty. Her support gave Franky energy, strength, and even hope. It didn’t hurt that she was hot, either.
Flipping onto her other side, she reached for the stray lock of hair that fell across Bridget’s forehead and brushed it away. The blonde scrunched her face, rousing with a look of concern.
“You okay?” Bridget asked, voice thick with sleep.
Franky nodded. “Can’t sleep.”
Bridget leaned upon an elbow. “At all?”
“Nuh.” Franky fell onto her back.
Bridget scooched closer to the brunette and cooed. “Baby…”
“I didn’t mean to wake ya,” Franky said, looking at the ceiling.
Bridget smiled. “It’s okay.” She smoothed her palm over Franky’s shoulder. “Can I make you a cuppa?”
Franky smiled at Bridget’s answer to everything--a nice cuppa. “Sure.”
Slipping into her robe, the blonde smiled at Franky who still lingered in bed, watching her move. When Bridget had gone, Franky swung her legs off the bed and hopped to her feet. She heard the faucet in the kitchen as she padded to the bathroom.
Night was for staring into herself and not succumbing to the oblivion she saw there. Flipping the light on in the bathroom, she stood in front of the mirror appraising the bags under her eyes. Turning the tap and letting the water run until it was cool, she splashed her face with water. Patting her face with a plush towel (definitely not prison-issue) she stole one more glance at her tired reflection before slapping the light switch and heading to the kitchen. She’d been out for a month and she was convinced insomnia was fatal.
Bridget was a good sport. Since Franky had been staying with her, she’d gotten up with Franky on many nights despite being back to work at Wentworth. There was the insomnia and on the rare night that exhaustion made her sleep, there were nightmares, too. It was so hard to move on when the past kept rearing its ugly head.
Feeling guilty for things long done, shame for others, she walked into the kitchen, long legs stretching to her shorts and a tanktop that showcased the art on her arms. Bridget was stirring the sugar into her mug as she turned to face her.
She passed Franky a cup of tea. “What’s on your mind?” Her smile was warm and maternal. Franky felt safe in her company.
“I did horrible things in prison and yet here I stand.”
Bridget tongue wet her lips. “Franky…”
“I made other people do horrible things, too. I don’t deserve any of this.”
“I know it may seem like that right now. You’re tired, you haven’t been sleeping, and you’re feeling guilty but Franky, you have to process your feelings.”
But she couldn’t. There was no way Franky Doyle could confess her sins to Bridget like a member of the clergy for the simple fact that there was no way Bridget Westfall would be able to look at her after she’d finished.
“Nothing. Everything.” Franky sighed. “For the first time in my life, shit is going right for me and I dunno how to be happy.”
Bridget smiled and exhaled. “You’ve got happiness anxiety.”
“What?” Franky scrunched up her face.
“When you’ve been in a stressful environment for a lifetime, it’s hard to reprogram your brain to accept when things are good. You think it must be a trick, but it’s not.”
Franky shrugged. “Doesn’t change the fact that I did that shit and I have to live with it.”
“Yeah, you do.” Bridget nodded. “But Franky, you can make peace with it, too.”
“How do I do that?” She asked disingenuously, leaning back against the island.
“That’s something you have to decide.”
She rolled her eyes. “Come on. That’s psychobabble if I ever heard it.”
“All right,” Bridget relented. “You don’t want to talk to me about it, can I get you an appointment with a colleague?
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
Bridget sighed. “Franky. I can’t help you if you don’t help me. I don’t have a bag of tricks.”
“But you have tea.” Franky smirked, dragging a finger around the rim of her mug.
Bridget smirked and set her mug down. She put her hand on her hip. “Franky, you can’t keep going on like this. You have to talk to someone.”
“Not gonna happen.”
“The things I done can’t be undone by you or a priest or anyone else. Just let it be, Gidge.”
“Franky, this is what I do. If this is about Meg Jackson--”
“Don’t.” Franky shook her head.
“You can tell me anything. You know that, right?”
“Trust me, some things are best left in the past.”
“How’s that working for you?” She smirked.
Franky grunted. “Can we not play twenty questions tonight?”
“I’m sorry, I thought you wanted help.”
Putting her hands on Bridget’s hips, Franky spoke emphatically. “Sleeping.”
“Right. Okay. Back to bed with you, then.” Bridget shooed Franky away from the counter and down the hallway to her bedroom.
Slipping between the sheets again, Franky felt more relaxed. Chamomile might not have been a cure all but tonight she felt a little lighter, more content after Bridget’s tea. Wrapping Franky up in her embrace, she planted a kiss in her hair. There was something so soothing about the way Bridget held her. Her grip was firm and Franky felt grounded in that perfect moment. The spell was broken as she glanced at the clock. If she was lucky, she’d get a couple hours of sleep before Bridget’s alarm went off. Franky felt her warm breath blow across her cheek and she pulled the sheet up to her chin and sighed as her eyes slipped shut. After a few minutes, her eyes popped open again.
Bridget was on the edge of sleep. “Hmm?”
“Do you believe in redemption?”
Bridget’s arm slid out from under her pillow and she leaned over Franky. “Yes. Now will you tell me what this is about?” She peered at Franky in the dark, silence hanging thick.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Franky,” she sighed. “I trust you.”
Looking up at the psychologist, Franky shook her head. “Yeah, well, maybe you shouldn’t.”
“That’s rubbish.” Her hand was cool against Franky’s cheek.
Franky looked away. “Is it?”
“The fact that you are remorseful of your past shows that you have learned lessons for your future.”
Sighing, Franky turned back towards Bridget. “I don’t know if I even trust myself.”
“Shhh,” Bridget shushed her with a kiss and a sweet smile. “Rest,” she said laying her head on Franky’s chest.
Franky held Bridget, feeling her body grow heavy against her as sleep overtook Bridget once again. Franky’s cheeks puffed out as she exhaled to the ceiling. Night brought doubt, but it also brought comfort and Bridget’s brand of comfort was the best thing thing Franky had ever experienced. There was security in her embrace, wisdom in her words, a fire in her eyes that screamed her desires and a body that was receptive to hers.
She had met Bridget in the worst of times, but now in her posh bed and bungalow, Franky took her doubt and packed it down. She’d already worked through much of her guilt, making amends with Boomer, apologizing to Liz, and teaming up with Bea to save Joshua, all of which were very redemptive but none of which still kept her up at night. That honor was saved for the petrifying prospect of fucking things up with Gidget.
Bridget’s limbs were heavy across her body but Franky didn’t feel confined. Her even breathing was a metronome to Franky’s and the body heat radiating off her kept the brunette’s lanky form warm without a blanket. Night was for holding her lover and confidant.
As for the rest of it, Franky decided, with Bridget heavy on her breast, it was time to finally say goodbye to that angry prisoner inside of her and to all the things that she had done in prison. Night was for squashing self-doubt and conquering fear, for building herself back up in the dark. It was for being the woman that she wanted to be.
Night was for taking back her life.