While most Washingtonians flee the August heart for the cooler, conditioned air inside, Wanda, 24, is inside trying to get out.

"I would like to be in the heat," she said yesterday in the cool, beige-colored 10-by-7-foot room where she spends most of her days.

"At least I would be outside and able to read what I want, go where I want and wear what I want. And it wouldn't be this" she said, tugging at her blue denim jumpsuit.

Wanda had intended to spend August elsewhere this year, but instead she's back spending summer where and how she did last year, reading pulp novels and mysteries with the door locked.

Other people do her laundry and fix her meals. She works only six hours a day and has lots of free time. But Wanda does not like the life.

"I read a lot," she said. "I try to read because if I stay in this room with nothing to do, I'm afraid I'll go off."

On the narrow shelf above the bed are her books - 10 of them, all from the Harlequin Romance series.

"I read about one a day," she said, then she passes them along to her neighbors. She's also read "The Exorcist," "Carrie," "The Killing Gift" and several other murder mysteries since last month.

But other than that, she spends her days sleeping, eating, writing letters and looking out the narrow windows.

Wanda manages to get outside for a couple of hours of exercise every other day, but she says it's not enough. And it's boring spending so much time in her concrete-walled room. For furniture she has just an unmade bed and a matching attached metal seat. Two empty soda cans serve as her matching set of ash trays.

"You're just here with nothing to do," she protested. "I need some help with typing skills, but you don't prepare for anything when you get out."

Still, there's only five more months to go on her six-month sentence for heroin possession, and if things go better next year, she won't spend August 1980 inside the red brick and concrete walls of the D.C. jail.