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NYT: Love’s Road Home


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Love’s Road Home

By C. J. CHIVERS NOV. 10, 2017


The engagement began as notification more than proposal.


Samuel J. Siatta was an inmate in the Shawnee Correctional Center, a state penitentiary in southern Illinois, serving a six-year sentence for a home invasion in which he had struck another man with a frying pan. Ashley Volk was his off-again, on-again girlfriend since the sixth grade. It was early 2016. She had driven six hours to visit him between bartending shifts.


The two faced each other across a cafeteria table. He rested his tattooed arms on top. She noticed something unusual: a loop of blue prison-safe dental floss on the ring finger of his left hand. She had not seen this before.


“What’s that?” she asked.


That, he answered, was his hope. “It’s a reminder that when I get out of here we’re going to have a future, and I’m going to marry you, and we’ll have a real life,” he said.


Joy flashed through her, followed by dread.




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