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No Apologies

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Taystee’s never had an issue with touch—far from it. She’s fine with holding Suzanne to calm her down after an episode, or adding a few new steps to her and Janae’s handshake, or sitting between the split of Cindy’s legs for a hair touch-up.

But with P, it’s different. Taystee can’t really put her finger on it, but it is, and it makes her stomach feel all fucked up.

Like, they’re in line for lunch, and today they get crackers—real crackers with a little bit of salt and those nice, slightly-brown edges. Sure, they’re paired with soup the consistency of something ejected during the third day of the flu, but they know how to celebrate small victories.

“Shit, this is gonna be good,” Poussey says, and grasps Taystee’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. But instead of letting go, putting her hand back on her tray, Poussey lets it sit there, her warmth bleeding through layers of prison cotton. After a moment, her hand slides down—slowly, grazing Taystee’s bicep and forearm before falling back down to her tray. Taystee watches its descent.

P catches her eye and frowns, ducking away like she’s all embarrassed, like she doesn’t want to be seen. “Sorry, T.” She holds up her hands, a silent I’m innocent.

Taystee snaps to attention and scoffs, nudging Poussey with her elbow. “Man, don’t apologize. We’re cool.”

She believes it—they’ll always be cool. But a hand on her shoulder never made her feel like that before.