By Carolyn Ward

The kitchen was fragrant and hot, but the windows wouldn’t open.

Cleo swiped the knife on the carrots, decapitating her sick uncle a hundred times over, a grin tucked secretly inside her mouth. He had paid heavily for the six years of her childhood.

Louise switched on the mixer, imagining her now dead attacker being cut into a thousand tiny bloody chunks by the whizzing blades.

Collette smashed potatoes, thrusting downwards and viciously twisting, picturing her father’s fat face, bruising beneath the creamy mass. ‘Daddy dead…daddy dead…’ she repeated.

The guard checked her watch. ‘Lunch within the hour!’ she yelled.

The women, hunched beneath the memories of their attackers and the life-changing cost of their own retaliations, chopped, mixed and mashed all the harder, anger and hatred seasoning the food. Cleo threw in a little extra ingredient, her secret grin threatening to burst out like sunshine after the storm. She bit her cheeks until the guard’s grey eyes moved on. The knife was taken back off her, locked away.

Sixteen men sat in luxury at the board dinner, awaiting the specially prepared food sent up from the kitchen. They washed it down with bottles of burgundy, congratulating themselves for reducing the budget for the women’s prison. Cheaper steel, cheaper concrete. Keep these bitches in their boxes and save the tax payer’s money. The inspector from the ministry raised his glass the highest, pleased with the economies. ‘Good news for the P.M. at last,’ he chortled. The Governor snorted in response, his trousers straining as he struggled to stand.

The women hurried in with steaming platters, eyes on the thick carpet. Appreciative grunts and belches filled the air.

Cleo tucked her grin inside her mouth again, wondering if the drain cleaner would work. ‘Removes the most filthy and rotten,’ it promised.