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What We Have To Do To Survive

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Franky might not be Top Dog anymore, but it sure as fuck feels like she is. She can feel that pressure building again. Her thoughts swirling. She’s keeping things from Bridget after they finally got back on track with each other. But she couldn’t tell her what Vera asked her to do. Franky needs to keep Bridget as far away from this shit as possible.

She’s sitting in the library waiting for a new inmate who wanted to speak to her about legal help. Franky was looking forward to this. To throw her mind into a case. She missed Legal Relief, but this was the next best thing. Advocating for people who would not get the legal support they needed.

Iman walks in, and Franky listens to her story, sympathetic. She sees a clear path for a possible reduced sentence, but she’ll need to get Vera’s approval to access the internet and Iman’s social media profiles. Vera has the day off today so she’ll have to ask for a meeting tomorrow morning.

 Bridget warned her about Iman, said she didn’t trust, but Franky thinks she’s just being paranoid. Probably because Franky had been in the slot and she was on high alert. Iman seemed nervous and intense, but Franky acquainted that to this being her first ever conviction.

Franky’s lying in her cell trying to read and ignore the music and laughter. She didn’t want to join the party, and this was the fifth fucking night this week that all this noise is going on. Bridget’s out there with Boomer. Boomer just finished a new brew and brought some for them to try, but Franky was interested. She wasn’t really a drinker. A glass or two of wine at dinner or maybe a few drinks when her and Bridget were out, but that’s it. She didn’t enjoy it. The smell reminded her of her mother, who often smelt like the stale alcohol. And she didn’t like being drunk. Franky constantly needed to be in control of herself and the situation she found herself in. A lot of awful shit had happened prior to prison, when she was young and naïve and focused on partying and getting into trouble. Her entire life had been out of control then, but Wentworth changed that because she was forced to become aware

The door to her cell opens and Bridget slips in. Franky can tell by her demeanor that she’s been drinking. Her pupils are dilated and the way she’s holding herself are clear signs that she’s intoxicated.

“Baby, why don’t you come out and have some fun?” Bridget asks. She’s leaning against the wall.

Franky barely looks up from her book, raising the cover. “No, thanks. I’m reading.”

It’s a worn copy of a classic. One that Franky has read probably a dozen times. She’s read just about every book in the education center at this point.

Bridget moves toward the bed. “We can always have our own fun.”

For a moment she’s interested. Moving her book to the side and letting Bridget climb on top of her. The smell of alcohol on her breath proves to be a turnoff, and she turns her head to the side, dodging Bridget’s attempt at a kiss. Bridget sits up, so she’s straddling Franky’s hips, an adorable pout on her face.

“Why don’t we just lay here? I wanna hold ya.” Franky says trying to divert Bridget’s attention. They abandon the book as it finds its way to the floor to make room for Bridget to cuddle into her side.

“You all right? You seem tense.” Bridget says. She’s nuzzling Franky’s neck, pressing kisses to it and her hand is wandering across Franky’s stomach to coax her into what she’d rather be doing. Franky’s almost always willing and ready to make love to her. She rarely, if ever, denies her.

“Yeah, I’m good. We haven’t spent a lot of time together recently. Let’s just talk.” This isn’t true. They spend their entire day together and share a bed each night, but there had been little to no meaningful conversation between them. Their persistent issues with communication occurring again. Franky was unwilling to discuss her, and Vera’s agreement. Vera was part of Bridget’s rather small support system here and she didn’t want to rock the boat and affect their relationship because she knows it’s important to Bridget. She’d been unable to discuss the larger issue regarding the drinking. There wasn’t a suitable time during the day and most nights Bridget had been drinking and there was no point in attempting a conversation because she wouldn’t be receptive.  

“I don’t want to talk. We talk all the time. “Bridget says. Her hand slips under the hem of Franky’s teal tank top.

Franky thinks about giving in. It wouldn’t be the first time she used sex to avoid a conversation that didn’t want to have. She can’t help but let out a low moan. Bridget knows what buttons to push. 

“Gidge, c’mon stop.” Franky says reaching down and removing Bridget’s hand. “You’ve been drinking. Let’s just go to bed. You’ve been doing that a lot lately.” Franky says mumbling under her breath. It’s a cheap shot, and Franky had said it without really thinking. Something that came out without her consciously deciding to say it.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bridget’s offended and Franky could lie. Could attempt to mollify her, but she doubts her girlfriend would buy.

“It means you and Boomer have been drinking a lot.” Franky stands up. The bed is too bloody small for them both to be in if they’re going to argue.

“Are you jealous?” Bridget says. Her blue eyes are fiery.

“Nuh, I’m not jealous.” Franky says her tone of voice gives away just how ridiculous she thinks Bridget is being. “You know I don’t like it when you drink and I’m not going to tell you that you can’t, but I don’t want to be around you when you do.”

“I’m just having some fun.” There was always an excuse. Always some pseudo reason that meant Bridget needed a drink at the end of the night.

“Look, you’re an adult. Do what you want.” Franky says. She pulls the tank top over her head, getting ready to change into her pajamas and go to bed.

“Well that’s not at all condescending.” Bridget says. “I don’t have a problem.” She’s defensive now

“I didn’t say you did.” Franky finishes changing and grabs her book. “I don’t wanna fight. You sleep here. I’ll sleep in your cell. We’ll talk in the morning when you’re sober.” She walks over to the bed and kisses Bridget. “I love ya, Gidge.”

Her anger comes from a place of concern and rather than annoyance. With no frame of reference, Franky worries that this is all her fault. That this is another way she’s dragging Bridget down because somehow her issue with alcohol only occurred because of her association with Franky.

Bridget stops Franky from moving away. “I don’t want to fight either.” She attempts to pull Franky down onto the bed either. “Stay in here. I can’t sleep without you.”

Like always, Franky can’t deny her and she agrees, lying down next to her. Turning on her side, feeling Bridget wrap her arms around her from behind. It doesn’t take long for her to fall asleep. Franky can hear her breathing even out while she lies awake. Maybe she should talk to Vera about this tomorrow. The governor being her friend might get through to her better than Franky could. She doesn’t want to violate any boundaries, but she’s worried. Franky had seen too many women fall into the grips of addiction. Even Bea, who hated drugs, had those few months after Debbie died were, she relied on the sedatives to get her through the day. Access to drugs and grog are more readily available in prison than on the outside. Franky should know she trafficked them. Bridget’s not an addict, and she sure as hell isn’t going to let her become one. Not if she can help it.

It was easy to give Bridget an excuse on why she needed to see Vera. It wasn’t even a lie exactly because she needed to ask Vera for access to Iman’s social media profiles.

“Doyle, have a seat.” Vera says when Smiles lets her into the office.

“I need ya to give me access to the internet. I’ve been helping that new inmate Iman and I think I have a case, but I need to see what they posted.”

“You know I can’t do that.” Vera says.

“C’mon, Vera. Don’t you trust me? I’m only trying to do my job.” Franky says. She can be manipulative when she wants to, and she knows exactly what buttons to push to get Vera to give her what she wants.  Part of her feels guilty. Like she’s taking advantage of Vera, but it’s not something she can dwell on.

“Its Governor Bennet.” It was hard for Franky to resort back to seeing Vera as an authority figure again. While they weren’t friends, they had started to build a more personal relationship because of Bridget. “Okay, half an hour of supervised time on the internet. If you access anything that hasn’t been approved, you will lose privileges.”

Franky agrees to those terms. “Something else on your mind?” Vera asks her. Franky’s mind seems like its elsewhere, like she’s not fully present in the conversation anymore.

“It’s about Bridget.” Franky says deciding that Vera needs to know because she can’t help Bridget by herself.

“What’s wrong? Did something happen?” Vera asks. She stands from her desk and starts worrying her bottom lip.

“She’s been drinking a lot and I’m worried about her.”

“How is she getting access to alcohol?” Vera asks even though she knows that Franky isn’t going to tell her who’s providing the alcohol.

“Don’t know.” Franky’s lying and they both know it. Franky stares at Bridget, “There’s something you’re not telling me.”

“Right before Bridget resigned, she came back from her lunch break and she was drunk.” Vera tells her. “And then one night she showed up to my house, and she was intoxicated.”

“How do you know she was drunk at work?” Franky asks.

“Birdsworth saw her and told me. Bridget left before I could talk to her, but I trust Liz. There’s no reason for her to lie.” Vera says. “The only way I can help Bridget is by cutting off her access. I can try to talk to her or get her to see a drug or alcohol counselor, but I think we both know she won’t go for that.” Vera uses a bargaining chip of her own. “I promise you whoever it is won’t get into trouble, but I need to know.”

Franky weighs her options. She doesn’t want to lag. It goes against the number one rule that was drilled into her when she was incarcerated. But is it really lagging if the other person doesn’t get into any trouble for it? So even if it makes her sick to her stomach, she gives in. Detailing where Boomer keeps her stash. She asks Vera if she can wait to do the search so Franky can give Boomer a warning about what’s coming.

She leaves the meeting angry with herself. Angry that she gave in and told and angry because for a moment even she doubted Bridget’s story. Thinking for a moment maybe Bridget got drunk and get behind the wheel of the car and that woman ended up in hospital over things Bridget did. As quickly as the thought comes into her head, it is pushed out. But the seeds of doubt had been planted.

Franky’s mind is even more conflicted and the shit that goes down during yard time does nothing to ease it. Franky witnesses Allie hanging around Tina and her crew, most likely attempting to score some drugs. That suffocating feeling is back. The one she felt constantly as top dog. The feeling of having to deal with so many people’s shit when she could barely deal with her own. How the fuck was she supposed to focus on her own case when every bloody day there was an additional problem, they expected her to handle. 

“Hey Booms.” Franky says taking a seat at the table next to her. She decided she would tackle the easiest problem first. Bridget was having her meeting with Vera so it seemed like a good time to talk to everyone else since she didn’t want her to know “I need ya to get rid of your brew. A Screw tipped me off and they about it. I don’t want ya getting into any more trouble.” Franky’s actions already caused Boomer to get another 7 years added to her sentence. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she got any more.

Boomer thanks Franky for telling her and then goes to dispose of it, but Franky stops her. “I need ya to do something else for me.”

“What?” Boomer asked. She’s eager and fiercely loyal to Franky. Willing to do anything she is asked to do.

“If you make more, don’t give anymore to Bridget or any alcohol at all.” Franky’s trying to get Boomer to understand the seriousness of what she’s asking. Vera said they needed to cut off the source, and she was right. It had yet to get to the point where it became serious enough or Bridget was actually dependent on it, but it would be easier now if they stopped the train before it got on its track to begin with. She makes another decision. “Miss Bennet asked me to take down Ferguson.” Franky says just above a whisper.

“When are we gonna do it? Are you gonna bash her?” Boomer says loudly. Her excitement overriding the need for secrecy.

Franky elbows her and tells her to shut up. “I don’t know yet. I need ya to be ready.”

She gets Liz alone. “Something on your mind little mouse?” Liz asks her always able to tell when something’s wrong with Franky.

“Just worried is all about Bridget” Franky says.

“About her drinking?” Liz says as an alcoholic she was also picking up the signs.

“She’s not an alcoholic. She likes to have a couple of drinks at the end of the night. It’s no big deal.” Franky’s still in denial. Unwilling to admit the truth that’s right in her face.

“You don’t have to be falling down drunk every day to have a drinking problem.” Liz’s own alcoholism had started as a drink or two at the end of night and had only progressed from there. “I’m not saying that she’s an alcoholic, but I think we both know that she doesn’t have the healthiest relationship with drinking.”

Franky feels Liz’s arm wrap around her shoulders. Holding her the way a mother would. “I don’t know how to help.”

“You can’t help her until she’s ready to listen.” Liz gives her one last squeeze before removing her arm and leaving Franky to think about what she’s going to do next.

Franky pushes into Allies cell later that day when she knows the other woman is in there and she searches, rifling through Allie’s things. “What the fuck are you doing? Allie says she goes over towards Franky attempting to push her away.

“Where’s your stash?” Franky says she’s pissed at her. That Allie would throw all the work Bea did away.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Allie says. Her plan to deny as much as possible.

“You’re a shit liar. I saw you buying gear today.” Franky’s pulling books and clothes onto the floor, completing her own version of a cell toss. There’re not many hiding places in a cell and they’re not hard to find. She pulls a baggie of drugs from under. “Well, what’s this?” Franky asks sarcastically, holding the gear up.

“What’re you doing?” Allie asks. Franky had moved towards the toilet, ready to flush the gear. Allie moves to stop her. It’s a brief tussle with Franky only really trying to keep the drugs out of her reach. In Franky’s mind, the only reason she cares this much is because she must be using.

“Don’t do that.” Allie says, yells really.

Franky throws the bag to the ground. “Fine, do whatever the fuck ya want. It’s not me that’s pissing on Bea’s memory.” She storms out and into her own cell.

She considers her options.  Franky needs an in with Kaz so she can get the other woman to trust her.

“I need to speak to Kaz.” Franky says. There’re members of Kaz’s crew standing in front of her stopping her from really entering the unit. “It’s about Allie.” She says when no one moves.

“What’s going on?” Kaz says approaching her.

“She’s using. I caught her with gear. Just thought you’d like a heads up.” Franky says. She doesn’t know Kaz enough to have an opinion on her other than her no violence rule is shit and doesn’t work. Franky doesn’t like violence, but here it’s a necessary deterrent.

“Where she’d get it?” Kaz asks. She doesn’t like drugs and won’t tolerate them.

“She was hanging around Tina Macardo. I didn’t if she scored any, but she has a decent stash in her cell.” Franky says.

“Thank you.” Kaz says. The two women have an understanding with each other

Before Franky leaves, she makes an offer. “Ya need help with anything, I’m willing to help.”'

When Franky gets back from her brief excursion to a very pissed off Bridget. “Who the fuck do you think you are to go behind my back to Vera?”

Franky doesn’t recall ever experiencing Bridget being this mad at her. They’ve had their fair share of fights, but genuine anger is rarely present. “I was worried about ya. I’m still worried.”

“How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t have a drinking problem.” Bridget says.

“Are you sure about that?” Franky asks her. They’re getting to the point where they’re screaming at each other. It’s getting harder for Franky to convince herself that this wasn’t a huge issue.

“You don’t get to decide for me about what I can and cannot do and you don’t get to go behind my back to enforce those decisions.” Bridget’s angriest at Franky’s controlling nature and the threat that posed to her autonomy. And because she wasn’t yet willing to admit it to herself.

“Well, if you’re not going to help yourself, then I have to step in and do it for ya Gidge.” Franky’s intentions were pure, and she really thought she had Bridget’s best interests at heart.

“You didn’t even fucking talk to me about it first.”

“I tried; you didn’t want to listen.”

“I don’t want to even be around you right now.” Bridget walks away and Franky can’t help but wonder if she just did irreparable damage to their relationship.