Perception

 

My name is sam, i’m 17 and in prison.

It’s honestly a really long story but my therapist tells me i need to write about it to discuss and express my feelings.

I got 4 years + 5 years probation.

luckily since i’m so young if i mind my shit i’ll be out and done by 25sh. But for me things never really work out as planned so i’m not expecting much. I’ve served a year already but half doesn’t count because the trial was still going on, i didn’t get my sentencing until september and it’s january. So i’m still in the beginning of all of this. I’m pretty much used to it here though. I’m in solitude because i’m so much younger than the other female inmates. There is a younger boy but he is in a different unit. It’s boring, all i ever do is watch t.v and play solitaire. I don’t really understand how this is supposed to be my punishment but i’m not going to argue. Since i’m still growing i get a special tray from the cafeteria with much better food, i guess being the youngest has some perks. So yeah, now, i know that i’m kinda stalling but i really don’t feel like writing this, i’ve talked about my reason for arrest like 10 billion times with everyone and their cousin. But since i’m a good kid and want my points for cooperation,(you hear that mrs. amy) i’m going to tell you how it all came to be.

So once upon a time in a world not far from ours, a girl named samantha edwards was in a group home waiting for a foster home, she had just started freshman year and didnt have many friends but she was okay with it. It was a tuesday morning when her case manager swung by her school and pulled her out of 3rd period to tell her that they had found her an eligible foster home and she would be meeting the parents after school. She smiled and said all the right things about being excited to meet them and wanting to be a big happy family but in reality she couldn’t care less. She had been in 12 foster homes since 5th grade and was pretty tired of the whole shebang by now. Most parents, when they heard about all the trauma and fun jazz from her young childhood, thought they could fix her, you know, mend a broken heart and whatnot. When they realized that she wouldn’t call them mom and dad and follow them around and kiss their feet for saving her life, they stopped liking her as much. Sams average was about 3 months, depending if they had other kids or not.

So the end of school came, and she walked to her group home and saw her case managers car and a mysterious car whom she assumed to be new parents car. She stepped inside and saw them. The dad was about 6 ft tall and average weight, kinda a dad bod, the mom was very dark skinned with beautiful braids flowing from her head. They both were dressed really nice, in a way you don’t see many people. They didn’t just have one nice thing, but everything from their shoes to their hair just looked expensive. The only thing that didn’t look rich was their teeth. Both of them had a real yellowing smile, that almost gave off the impression of an addict. But only people with experience i think would really catch on.

 

So, i’m done writing in this 3rd person thing, it’s to confusing, but yeah, that’s when it all started. We had a little get together that day and talked about what i like to do and what they like to do, the only thing that really sticks out in my memory from that day was the ‘dad’.

He kept looking at me funny, i thought at the time it was because it was his first time meeting me , but now i know.

After they left my case manager asked me what i thought about them, and you know, i could’ve been honest and said that i didn’t like them and i got weird vibes and if you gave them a drug test they would definitely fail, but no. i was so desperate to get out of that damn group home and attempt to be a normal person that i didn’t care about what i was getting myself into.

Three weeks later i moved in. their house was a decent size, i had my own room, which was super nice. They didn’t have any other kids though so all the spotlight was on me. Things were pretty good at first, they weren’t too nagging and not very breathe all down my neck type stuff. It was nice.

I first caught steven (dad) smoking when i was waiting for my friend to come pick me up for a study date at a coffee shop down the street, he was in his car with the windows rolled down. I could tell he couldn’t see me seeing him, because he was talking on the phone super aggressively. “What do you want from me? She’s been here what a month, she’s not ready for the truth.”

Was he talking about me? And what truth?

“I know, i know, but i don’t want to scare her, i actually like having her around.”

At this point i’m really confused but right as he starts talking again, Jessica pulls up and yells

“ Why are you in the bushes sam?”

Damn, this is awkward.

“I, uhh, dropped my phone, i’ll be right there.”

Right as i look up, i notice steven staring right at me with almost a guilty look in his eyes.

I climb up into Jessica’s car and feel stevens eyes burning a hole through me as we drive off.

 

“ Maybe they are moving and are scared to tell you, or maybe steven has a secret really hot son and he is coming to live with you guys. Or they are like terrorists or something.” Jessica says as she stares at her empty coffee cup.

“ I don’t know it was just weird, and the way he looked at me when he saw me standing there. I feel like it has to be something really important.”

I’m honestly kinda annoyed, i don’t like secrets but i guess i’ll find out eventually. I try to change the subject.

“ Are we still going to Evans party tonight?” i ask kinda hoping she’ll say no. Evan Handler is Jessica’s boyfriend of 2 months now, if you ask me he just wants to get in her pants but according to her they are “madly in love” and “taking things slow, thank you very much.”  

“ Yeah, you promise you’ll be ready in time, last time i came it took like 20 minutes for you to figure out what shoes you were going to wear, and we were swimming.” she rolls her eyes.

Okay, okay i have some anxiety issues but that was like in 7th grade.

“ that was like 3 years ago, i honestly don’t really care what i look like anymore.” i take a big gulp of my coffee.

“ yeah i can tell.” she says eyeing my ripped jeans and oversized hoodie that’s probably older than me.

“Thanks Jess, you always know how to cheer me up.” i say sarcastically.

“ Anytime dear.” she answers with an equal amount.

 

Jess drops me off at home and as she rolls away she yells out the window

“ Be ready by 8, i want to get pictures.” then she blows me a kiss and drives off.

I shake my head, i hate going to Evans parties, all i do there is stand in the corner and try to avoid eye contact with everyone. Usually people don’t like me because when i bring smoke i don’t share. It’s not that i think people are gross i just don’t trust them, there’s too many stories on the news of people lacing other people and i don’t have time for all of that. Jess is about the only person i’ll share weed with, but she claims she is a social smoker and most of the time doesnt want to just smoke at home with just me.

I go to my room and plop down on my bed, i almost instantly fall asleep but something grabs my attention.

“ Steven what time are you leaving tonight?” i hear sandras voice ask.

“ I think it starts around 9:30 ish, why?” steven replies

“ make sure not to really show your face or make a big scene, Sam goes to Clark High now, we can’t have her going to school and her friends talking about us.” she says with a strong note of authority.

“You know i’m not stupid sandra, i want her as safe as you do.” he says.

Safe? From what?

“ I know, I know i’m just nervous that she’s going to find out from someone besides us, Then she really will want to leave.” she sounds worried.

I stop listening and start thinking. I want to know what’s going on, and from what i hear it sounds like Steven is going to Evans party for something. I haven’t told either of them that i’m going to a party tonight, they have no idea i’ll be there.

I glance at the clock and see the time, 7:15, i could probably take a quick nap before she comes, but i’m too hype from what i heard.

I get out bed and go to my closet, i grab a black shirt and my favorite ripped boyfriend jeans.

I get dressed and put my hair into its normal two braids going down my back. I look in the mirror, i don’t look terrible but i still look different from the other girls that will be there. All the girls in my school have almost a uniform, they all wear the same Skinny jeans or leggings with a crop top so they can show off their “curves” that all of them believe they have. I’ve never wanted to dress like that i don’t see the point in dressing like everyone around me just so i can fit in.

7:55 rolls around and i walk out into the living room, sandras sitting on the couch and looks over at me,

“Well, don’t you look nice. What’s the occasion?” she says with her eyebrows raised.

I look down at my clothes,

“ um, i’m just going out with Jessica, her parents are out of town, so she has the car all night.” i say trying to be cool.

“ oh, okay well be back before 2 please, and don’t do anything you will regret.” she laughs a little

“ What, like get 666 tattooed on my butt, or shave my head in a drunken fit?” i say playing along.

“ um, yeah i would say those fall along the lines of regret, but i think the 666 wouldn’t be a terrible idea, christianity is so overrated.” she smiles.

Even though all this weird shit is going on with her and steven, i wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

 

I hear Jess pull up and give sandra a hug and say goodbye. On my way out to the car, Jess rolls down the window and cat calls at me.

“ I see you Sam, looking like a regular hottie.” she’s screaming so loud i think she’s going to wake up the neighbors.

“ Shhhhhhh, jesus Jess, i look like i always do.” i was starting to feel a little more confident.

“ i have Never in my 5 years of knowing you ever seen you in anything but sweatpants and a sweatshirt.” she exaggerating obviously but yes, it was a slight big deal that more than the skin on my face and hands were showing. The back of my shirt hung down pretty far, revealing a white bralette Jess got my over the summer. I did look cute and as nervous i was about steven and them i was actually excited to go to the party.

\We pull up outside of EVans house and Jess calls him, to tell him we are here. He comes outside with jeans on and his bare chest exposed, as much as i didn’t like him, he was gorgeous.

Jess gets out of the car, and runs over to him. As i get out, i reach out to grab my purse and realize it’s not there. Damn it, i must’ve left it in my room.

I get out of the car and tell Jess i left my purse at home,

“We can’t go back now Sam.” she says as Evan tickles her sides

“ well, my weed is in my purse so i guess it’s going to be a boring night for me.” i said annoyed.

Evan perks up and says “ Don’t worry sam, we have plenty, actually my guy should be coming any time now.” he checks his watch.

“ Yeah, come on jess, it’s one time. No one is going to lace your stuff okay? Isn’t that right Evan, you’ll make sure she’s okay.” she looks at him with her cute little puppy dog eyes.

“ Yeah, come on Sam, let loose a little bit, and i’ve got a bunch of friends coming tonight and the way you’re looking tonight they’ll definitely want to stay for awhile.” he says with his little seductive look on his face. I blush a little,

“ Hey i’m right here babe.” Jess says demanding all his attention.

“ you know i’m just kidding sweets, but yes, i’ll make sure you both are very very safe.” he says as he kisses Jess.

“ ughh, fine lets go inside.” i said.

 

We go inside and i sit down on the couch. Evans house is party material, lots of open space and dark colored couches. This has been one of the only houses people have partied at since like 6th grade. Things were different back then, instead of bongs being passed back and forth it was pizza, instead of drunk girls stumbling up the stairs with guys, it was us spinning a coke bottle and blushing when it landed on their crush. Back when things were easier and the only problem i had was Jimmy Straight not wanting to kiss me because i was mean.

 

I’m waiting for Evan to come back from meeting with his dealer so we can smoke, i need to loosen up a little bit.

“God, whats taking so long? Is it that complicated to give someone some money?” i asked irritated.

“Sam, whats going on with you? Just a minute ago you didn’t even want to smoke and now your pissed cause he is taking his time coming back.” Jess said frustrated. She got up and started checking her makeup in the mirror.

“I mean you don’t always have to bitch about something sam, life’s not that bad.” she sits back down and starts scrolling on her phone.

I could tell she was already drunk from the punch evan kept pouring in her cup and stressed out or whatever but at that moment i didn’t care.

“Are you kidding me? You think life isn’t that bad?” i stood up obviously heated.

“Easy for you to say jess, considering nothing even remotely difficult has ever happened in your life, you’ve always had your perfect little mommy and daddy and nice big house with your nice car and expensive clothes, okay you wanna know where my parents are jess? They’re dead. You wanna know where my nice house is? It got sold when my parents died because no one could pay for it. You wanna know where my nice car and clothes are? They never existed because no one ever cared enough to go out and buy me some. Okay so forgive me if i’m a little hostile sometimes and moody, can really help it.” i exhaled really loud and looked away.

“ okay well none of that’s my fault sam,  your parents were drug addicts or something like that? I mean they knew what was going to happen if they kept using and if you weren’t a good enough reason to keep them alive that’s not my problem, so stop talking about it.” she looked me dead in the face when she said all of it.

I wanted to walk away, i wanted to say “screw you” and just leave but i couldn’t. All this hatred after so many years was building up, even if it wasn’t hatred for her.

So instead of leaving i decided to be a little more theatrical.

“You are gonna regret that.” i said, then i took her phone and threw it across the room.

She looked at me like i was crazy and got up and pushed me.

“Bitch, who are you?” she yelled.

Then i cracked her. I don’t really remember much of the fight after that except the end.

I was wailing on her pretty good, and we were both yelling when evan and the one and only Steven ran inside. I was confused why evan had called stevan and when, if they just now saw us what would’ve been the reason for evan calling him, but then i remembered  him saying it started at 9:30ish and i looked at the clock. 9:38 p.m. steven was the plug evan was talking about? I stopped hitting jess and looked at evan and steven.

Evan ran over to help jess, who was crying on the floor, i’m still not to sure if it was because her phone was broke or her face hurt, But steven just stared at me.

“ are you okay sam?” he asked softly.

“ what the hell are you doing here?” i demanded, my face was hot and there was blood dripping from my knuckles.

“ it’s a really long story and i don’t think here is really the setting to talk about it in.” he said, looking at jess and evan.

I turned around and caught jess’s eye, she looked drunk off her ass, and i started feeling kinda bad about the whole thing, but i wasn’t at the point of saying that aloud yet.

“Let’s go home sam.” steven said

I looked around, considering my options and finally said “fine.”

 

It took us about 25 minutes to get home and neither of us talked the whole ride.

When we got into the house sandra was already in the living room with a distressed look on her face.

I turned to look her in the face, she looked guilty.

“What is going on?” i said angrily

“ sam , sit down and don’t be mad, this is the last thing i wanted to happen.” she looked at steven with a very intense look.

“ She was beating the shit out of some girl, i kinda had to come in and do something.” he said, obviously not feeling as guilt as sandra.

She looked down at the dried blood on my hand and her eyes widened

“ What happened, why did you hit someone?” she asked, concern flooding into her face.

“ if someone doesn’t tell me why the fuck steven was at evans house selling him drugs, i’m going to hit another person.” i sounded like a different person, but i was so tired of the lies.

“ okay, okay.” sandra said.

She sighed then started.

“ so growing up, my dad was a very important partner in a very secret business. He was born in chicago and started out a regular pusher with not much to show, but one day he made this big score and jumped these guys and earned some respect.” she had a strong look of respect on her face as she said these words.

“He worked his ass off and climbed his way to the top of the ladder, he was the youngest of many of them but one of the most respected. He was fair and gave second chances when needed. Another one of the big guys had a sister that hung around sometimes, she’s my mom. My dad fell in love with her and they had me, we were happy. As i got older more threats were coming from opposing gangs, my dad got nervous. He packed us up and moved us to california in hopes of better safety.” she looked down.

“ i was 14 when he died. A gang member found their hideout and shot the place up. Dad was one of the few that didn’t make it out. I remember the look on my moms face when they told her. She crumbled. The gang didn’t really stick around that much longer, a bunch of people got locked up and everyone else kinda fell back. My dads close brothers stayed to help my mom but it wasn’t easy providing for a family on a wavering income.”

“I promised my mom, that when i got old enough i would help out, i got my first job at a laundromat, then when i got a little older i asked my dads friends to let me help out with pushing. Convinced them that i could open up a lot of customers at my school and my age. Said kids got scared when adults tried to sell to them. They gave me a couple grams a week and told me to show them what i could do. When  i came back the next week with more money than i should of had and explained that i got some down payments, they were impressed.” She got a smug smile and continued

“ i kept selling and eventually worked my way up like my dad. It was the only way i could provide for my mom, she doesnt know everything but shes aware that i dabble a bit in the family business. I met steven on a run one day and i guess he just stuck around.” she smiled and he rubbed her shoulders in a comforting way.

He starts talking “ we always wanted kids but we were nervous about having a younger one, too dangerous. We thought an older kid would be able to defend themselves and be a bit more independent. We wanted to give someone a chance to be normalish.”

Sandra speaks up again “ we understand if you want to leave, not a lot of people want to get caught up in this, but just know we want you to stay, you can always call this home.”

She continues “ and if you want to join us, you can. But if you don’t once again it’s okay either way.”  

Sandra stands up and steven holds her hand, “ we will give you as much time to think about things, we are here for you.” sandra goes to her room.

Steven starts walking towards their door but he stops and turns to look at me.

“ by the way kid, you totally kicked her ass.” he laughed a little bit then went inside.

I smiled in spite of myself. As crazy as all this shit is, i don’t think i could’ve asked for better parents.  

 

Fast forward a couple months and im pushing. i didn’t at first because i was scared of getting locked up, especially since my record was not squeaky clean already. but as time went on and i learned more and met more people, Steven and Sandra almost threw a party when i told them i was down. They promised me security and i was getting my own car so i could transport. i could keep half the cash and got allowance because i didn’t want to work on top of selling. Thing were for real going good, i was making cash, i felt like i finally had a family, and not to my surprise but i suddenly had a lot more friends at school when people found out what i had to offer. Jess and me still didn’t talk but i sold to evan now so he updated me on her every once in a while. he said she was distant and kinda mean, thought she was getting depressed. but i didn’t care, every time i saw her in the hallways she avoided my eyes.

i didn’t use at first, just sold. but as time went by it was nice to have an endless supply to any drug you want. When i had a test and didn’t sleep good that night, i popped some adderall and got an A. when i couldn’t sleep at night i took a couple xans and i was slumped. things were good. Until.

It was a thursday. I had 3 grams of loud on me and 6 Xans for a kid names darian. i sold to him every thursday during lunch. He gave me a 50 i gave him his stuff. We both had D lunch so i stayed in 4th period for an hour before i went to lunch, during this hour the teacher got a phone call saying i was needed in the dean’s office. i didn’t sweat it at first, i was just going to put my stuff in my friends locker then go up there. but when  i opened the door to leave, an officer was there to escort me to the office. right when i saw him i knew i was screwed.

“Hi, Miss Edwards?” he asked in a semi sweet way.

” Yeah, what’s wrong sir?” i said, steven always told me to be polite and respectful if you thought you were in trouble.

” will you come with me please, we have been informed that you have been selling illegal substances on our campus, is that true?” he said as we walked toward the office.

i stayed quite knowing that was best. Surprisingly he didn’t repeat the question, we walked in silence.  i had 3 grams and a baggie full of pills on me, i was in trouble.

we walked in the doors of the dean’s office and guess who i see standing at his desk. Jessica. of course, guys remember this is way you are close with your friends and closer with your enemies.

” Thank you miss jenkins i appreciate the helpful advice you have given us.” he says with a smile then gestures me to sit down.

“ahh, samantha edwards, i’ve read a lot about you, grew up in foster care but recently you have received a good home i see.” he says rubbing his chin.

“yes sir.” i look at the ground.

“do you know why you are here right now?” he looks me in the eyes demanding respect.

“not really, i was hoping you could clear it up for me a little sir.” i gave him my best ‘i’m innocent don’t search my bag’ look.

” well, see miss jenkins here to it upon herself to tell me that you were currently struggling with a drug problem, says you have also been providing drugs to other kids on our wonderful campus.” he looks at jessica who looks away almost embarrassed.

im fuming, god is this her way of revenge?

“sir, i think she is confused, i wouldn’t do that and i haven’t ever sold or taken drugs on this campus.” i say convincely

“then, you wouldn’t have an issue with us doing a quick search of your stuff and ask you to empty your pockets.” he reads the fear on my face.

“unless you want to come clean now and just make things easier on all of us?” his eyebrows raise.

i stay silent.

“that’s what i thought, stand up please and hand your bag to officer Tibb please.” he runs his hands through his hair in a stressed way.

i stand up and hand my bag to the officer, he takes it and dumps everything on the floor. Two bags full of drugs come out and land right on top. i flinch, and clench my fists. i swear to god i wanted to kill jessica.

“what do we have here?” the officer picks up the baggies and looks at them.

“this seems like a decent amount, were you planning on selling this or did you buy it here?” he looks me in the eyes.

“i want a lawyer.” i state with a kinda kiss my ass attitude.

” sweetie you are going to need it, they are searching your car right now.” the officer says as he takes out his cuffs and unlocks them.

My car? shit, i have at least 3 ounces in the back and god knows how many grams of coke. i was supposed to do a big run after school with my friend ramond. shit, shit, shit. 3 grams is nothing compared to what im about to face.

after they searched my car and found all my goodies, they pressed more charges. they took me in at around 11:30 am and by 5pm i was facing 4 felonies and they were discussing me getting waived into adult court.two days later in sitting in big girl jail and facing up to 10 years.

in those two days my whole life changed, after searching my car, they got a warrant and searched my house. so then not only did they find more stuff of mine but much more of sandra and stevens. They got taken into custody and related about 12 different drug busts back to them. Its kinda ironic because they are here with me. sometimes i see sandra in passing and she won’t look at me. stevens on the male unit so i will most likely never see him. I don’t know what their sentences are because there is some rule against me knowing what’s happening with the other people in my case. i don’t know, but i guess the morale of the story is don’t do things to get popular, or to get more friends. that shit aint worth it.  i might’ve been cool for a couple months but compared to all the stuff i’ll never get to do it wasn’t even close to the same. i’ll never go to prom or have a big 18th birthday party, i’ll never walk the stage and get my diploma or tour colleges. i missed out on my growing up because i was stuck in this fantasy of being wanted. a fantasy that was far from the truth. because we’re all those ‘friends’ now? do i get letters? no. Do i get visits? no. all those kids used me, and i guess i used them in a way to. But it’s all perception you know, do i think Steven and Sandra were bad people? no, not at all. But will other people who don’t know them and read the headlines saying ‘ foster parents force child into drug ring ‘ think they were bad people? yes. And will people think of me at school as the girl that used to be the plug but got busted or will they think of me as their friend and be sad i’m gone?  They way you live is all dependent on where you stand. if i was Jessica, i might’ve thought i was doing the right thing. If i was Sandra i might’ve thought i was doing the right thing. all these people who thought they were helping when in fact they were hurting is because they were on the other side.

but anyways, here you go Mrs. Amy, I hope you enjoy and if you ever want to hear any other stories i’ve got loads of free time to tell you some, you know where to find me.

 

Jeffersonville High School, 2019